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Helpful Apps For Baby Boomers: Making Life Easier With Tech

Our thanks to Bash Sarmiento for this contribution to our blog.

[Source: Pexels]

With technology becoming more and more user-friendly, it is almost impossible to say that older adults and seniors cannot use a mobile phone or have access to the internet. Both groups have willingly kept themselves up to date with the latest gadgets and already have the technical knowledge to be able to keep up with modern times.

A study by the Pew Research Center (2019) revealed that 60-year-old Americans and older spend more than half of their leisure time in front of their TVs, computers or laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices daily. There is also a significant increase in terms of seniors’ adoption of digital technology. In comparison, only 14% of those ages 65 and older were internet users back in 2000. This number increased to an impressive 73% in 2019. Also worth noting, about 53% of seniors are already smartphone owners. 

This is not a surprise especially when technology has made an effort to penetrate the baby boomer and senior markets with gadgets that are useful and foolproof as they can be for their age. Technology for older adults includes high-tech wearables like a smartwatch which can monitor their blood pressure and act as a pedometer to track their steps. Smartphones have become more convenient with screen magnification, talk-to-text, and assistive touch features. Plenty of mobile phone applications are also accessible through various smartphone app markets. Apps that can genuinely make the lives of people from all walks of life, more so, age groups easier and more convenient. 

Here is a list of some awesome apps that can facilitate their social interactions, track their health and wellness, sharpen their memory, and others:

  1. Facebook for socials.

According to Statista (2021), a percentage of 11.3 represents Facebook users ages 55 and over worldwide. No matter small, it still provides a digital presence to the baby boomer and senior age. Facebook has been a useful app for keeping in touch with busy friends and family members. With its improved algorithms, it has also become a platform where former classmates, schoolmates, and colleagues reunite. Through Facebook Messenger where they can call, send a message, or video chat regardless of the distance, communication is a sure success. They can enjoy sending messages or just lurk and check the newsfeed to get a glimpse of what everyone has been up to. 

  1. Magnifying Glass with Light for Productivity

This app is a great way to enjoy comfortable reading. While most smartphones have the feature to magnify the texts on screen and make screen-reading an easy task, the magnifying glass app uses the phone’s camera to magnify texts of hardbound books, magazines, and other external reading materials. The users just need to position their device’s camera over the text and it will automatically enlarge and brighten the text shown on the screen to facilitate easy reading.

  1. Shopwell and WebMD for wellness.

A healthy diet is crucial in keeping the mind and body in the best shape. The Shopwell app can help in identifying food that can fit one’s health goals and needs. Whether you are following a plant-based diet, carnivore diet, or anything the doctors recommend, this app can help you make a nutritious grocery list that you can take to your local store or market. It will also recommend alternatives to ensure that you are on track with the right options. WebMD, on the other hand, offers an array of researched medical studies and conditions so it is the perfect reference if you want to check symptoms or simply locate the nearest physician or hospital. This app can also identify whether or not meds can be bought over-the-counter or requiring medical prescriptions, their side effects, and uses. You can also put up a reminder for your maintenance medicines. You can also find home remedies and research at-home health services from the same app. 

  1. Senior Discounts & Coupons App and Mint for thrift finds and budgeting.

The Senior Discounts & Coupons app may not track your savings but it can help you find discounts and sales. It can help you find out which stores, hotels, and restaurants offer discounts for seniors. Mint, however, lets you monitor your spending as this is a personal finance app where you can sync your bank accounts on one page and check each expenditure. You can also control your spending habits by designating a limit and it organizes your spending into charts and categorizes it into groceries, gas, food, entertainment, etc. It is also a platform where you can pay your rent and other bills so you do not have to go elsewhere.

  1. Words with Friends 2 for leisure.

This is an interactive Scrabble-themed game that older adults can enjoy while maintaining their cognitive health. In this game, a board will be displayed on the screen along with a list of letters that can be used to form words. The game keeps scores and will provide new letters as frequently needed. It can be played alone but it will be more fun and engaging when played with friends or family members in competitive teams.

Smartphone technology has changed over the years and these apps are only the tip of the iceberg. The more older adults are committed to transitioning to the digital world, the more mobile app developers rapidly take action and make these helpful apps readily available. Share this with anyone who might just need this list today.

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About the Author:

Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management, and traveling are translated into his works.

Links:

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bashsarmiento

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20 Awesome At-Home Hobbies with Health Benefits for Retirees and Older Adults

Our thanks to Tamara Segal for this contribution to our blog.

Older adults playing games

Today, more than 45,000 people in the U.S. are receiving their Social Security benefits. While some retirees prefer to maintain part-time jobs that don’t conflict with their benefits or retirement plans, many others are uncertain about what to do with all the time suddenly thrust in their lap. 

While many older adults dream about the day they can hang up their 9-to-5 workdays and long commutes, they may not know precisely how to spend each day once work no longer encompasses their time. On average, seniors spend under 10 hours each day sleeping, and that leaves quite a bit of time for leisure activities once their daily chores are completed. 

The average senior has roughly seven hours of leisure time each day, according to the Wall Street Journal, and half of that is spent watching television. Unfortunately, TV watching is associated with a sedentary lifestyle, and that’s not great for anyone’s health. In order to maintain their physical and mental health—even give it a boost—retirees can embrace new hobbies that are good for both their physical and mental well-being. Here, we’ve outlined some fun retirement hobby ideas with great benefits for seniors.

Why Is It Important to Have a Hobby, Particularly after Retirement?

Older adults playing chess

No matter where they live or their financial status, seniors of all walks of life can benefit from having a hobby that they enjoy. A hobby that involves movement or supports mental agility can support seniors’ cognitive function or physical health. The amount of time that a person should devote to their hobby is, of course, entirely subjective. After all, it’s not always possible—or preferable—to fish all day in the hot sun or fish during the winter months. On the other hand, it is important to allocate plenty of time to a hobby—or even several hobbies— that can enhance the body and mind. The health benefits associated with many hobbies are undeniable. Gardening, for example, offers health benefits like sunshine, which provides the body with vitamin D and boosts serotonin production for a better, more stable mood). It also requires movement, such as bending, walking, and light lifting, which helps you maintain physical fitness. Other health benefits associated with hobbies include:

  • Stress reduction and stress management
  • Challenges the brain (which can improve functions mental functions like memory)
  • Supports the immune system
  • May support mobility
  • May support weight management
  • May improve social connections (which can enhance mood)

Physical hobbies, such as ballroom dancing or yoga, offer a wide range of health benefits, including reduced blood pressure, improved heart health, and reduced risk for mood disorders like depression. Seniors should consider their health needs and choose a hobby — or a few hobbies — that will support their health where they need it most. 

20 Hobbies That Offer Health Benefits for Seniors

Older adult on a laptop

These are some popular hobbies that seniors and retirees love and rely on to support their physical and mental health. Many involve little or very little expense but offer a tremendous amount of enjoyment, social engagement, or other benefits that are important to retirees. 

1. Learn a new language

Learning a new language offers therapeutic cognitive benefits like delaying or reducing the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This type of learning can support memory, information comprehension, and self-confidence. 

2. Knit, crochet, or sew

Although these hobbies aren’t associated with physical activity, they can help retirees maintain their mental dexterity and provide great stress reduction. Some seniors even monetize their knitting hobby by creating products for local craft fairs or their Etsy shops.

Older adult sewing

3. Gardening

Gardening offers both physical and mental health benefits — and a bounty of produce and flowers. Not only does it support heart health and mood; it may even help reduce the risk for dementia, according to AARP

4. Embrace technology

Seniors certainly can keep up with their tech-savvy grandkids if they want to. Retirees can download apps that support their other hobbies. For instance, download apps to listen to audiobooks while gardening, or post pictures of artwork on Instagram.

5. Join a virtual or in-person book club

Older adult using a tablet

Speaking of books, many seniors enjoy reading. There are library book clubs as well as virtual book clubs that are designed especially for seniors or readers of specific genres, like mysteries or literature. Book clubs offer social interaction, reducing stress and promoting a feeling of connectivity.

6. Learn a new instrument

Playing an instrument such as the piano, organ, or violin supports an individual’s dexterity. Of course, these pastimes are also enjoyable and can enhance a person’s mood or lead to better stress management. 

7. Paint

Painting is a great way to pass the time. It offers seniors improved stress reduction, enhanced dexterity, and promotes self-confidence. Seniors have many different styles to explore, including watercolor, oil, and acrylic painting. Taking an art class is another way to support this hobby and establish new social outlets.

8. Mentor a child or college student 

Maintaining connections with the outer world is important for seniors because it can reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation. While seniors can mentor online, they can also attend area community centers that welcome retired volunteers and mentors.

9. Write a memoir

Retirees are a fount of knowledge and experience. That knowledge and those experiences can be invaluable to family members but they might also be worth sharing with others. Many retirees spend time writing memoirs for different purposes—to record their life story or share their professional knowledge with people in their former work field. Writing promotes mental agility and stress reduction.

 10. Create and maintain a blog

We’ve already mentioned how writing can help seniors maintain their active minds, but blogging about topics like cooking, gardening, or traveling encourages seniors to maintain their active lifestyles. Blogging is also a great way to connect with people of all ages.

11. Animal care

Older adult with a cat

Many retirees combine their love for pets with volunteering at area animal shelters. Others opt to pet sit for some supplemental income. Animals can keep seniors from feeling lonely and show them how needed they truly are when it comes to the care of animals and pets.

12. Restore or build furniture

Carpentry and furniture restoration isn’t as active as dancing, but they can keep seniors moving and active. Many retirees look forward to the day they can spend all day at their woodworking bench or getting to projects like reupholstering old chairs. Hobbies like these help seniors stay creative and physically and mentally active. 

13. Meditate or Do Tai Chi

Activities like Tai Chi and yoga feature a strong meditative focus. This means that these pastimes support both physical and mental health. They enhance agility and flexibility while decreasing stress and improving mood. Attending classes for these hobbies is a great way for seniors to get out of their homes and meet with other people.

14. Photography

Seniors who love to be outdoors might want to improve their photography skills. Photography pairs well with many hobbies, like bird watching, artmaking, and blogging. Some retirees become quite serious about their photography and even rely on it for extra income. Like other forms of art, photography can improve mood and help reduce stress.

15. Chess

Chess has long been associated with seniors and retirees, but you don’t have to visit the park or the local coffee shop these days to enjoy a game. There are online chess clubs where seniors can improve their game. Chess is an effective way to promote mental dexterity — it may even help reduce the risk for dementia. 

16. Crossword puzzles and other games

Like chess, crossword puzzles can help retirees keep their minds active. Games that involve thinking are helpful for warding off dementia and supporting memory and overall cognitive health.

17. Cooking or baking

Older adult at the kitchen sink

Both men and women retirees look forward to the days they can spend all day in the kitchen perfecting heirloom recipes or cooking for family and friends. Cooking can reduce stress, but the simple acts of standing, bending, and stirring can also help seniors burn calories and stay mobile.

18. Walking club

Many neighborhoods are home to senior walking clubs. Walking offers both mental and physical health benefits such as weight management, cardiovascular health, mood improvement, and immune system function. Many communities feature trails specially designed for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. 

19. Start a collection

Many retirees have a passion for collecting. Whether it’s baseball cards, art, or vintage jewelry, these collections encourage seniors to get out to flea markets and estate sales. It may help them to stay active online as they scour auction sites to find their treasures. 

20. Dancing lessons

Dancing classes for adults have made a huge comeback due to the popularity of shows like Dancing with the Stars. Many community centers, as well as dance studios, feature dance classes for seniors that include ballroom dancing or even modern dance.

Each individual has to assess their own physical limitations and needs when choosing these or other hobbies. The main thing is that retirees be deliberate about allocating time to their hobbies and sticking with them to enjoy their benefits. It’s a priority for all seniors to maintain or improve their health, and participating in enjoyable pastimes such as these can certainly help. Other hobbies to keep in mind include fishing, scrapbooking, volunteering, genealogy research, tennis, bicycling, golf, geocaching, swimming, building models, origami, jewelry making, and taking online courses on a topic of their choice. 

Sharing Hacking Life Shifts with Marin County Section on Aging

I am excited and looking forward to be sharing insights from our latest research study, Hacking Life Shifts with Marin County Section on Aging on March 18th, 10:00-11:30 am PT.

Most of us are creatures of habit. We get comfortable with our routines. We form attitudes and values that guide and influence our behavior. But then change happens. And that’s part of life. As we get older, change can be difficult and profound. When it comes suddenly, change can disrupt not only our routines, but also the very direction of our lives — sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. How we navigate change is a reflection of not only who we are, but also who supports us and how. Change creates needs for new types of help. And, that’s where brands have a role to play. It’s important to understand that Life Shifts are not discrete. To the contrary, they’re often intertwined. Nearly half of adults aged 45 and over (47% to be exact) find themselves in at least one of the five Life Shifts studied. So, there’s a decent chance you (or a loved one) are currently going through one or more these changes.

Hacking Life Shifts – A c-level read-out of key insights from this groundbreaking study of how three generations of Americans are navigating profound changes along the aging journey.

To join the virtual networking meetup and for more info, visit us here.

For more information about Hacking Life Shifts, you can enjoy the e-book on the study: download Hacking Life Shifts here.

The Best Shoes for Older Adults to Fight Common Foot Issues

Our thanks to Dj Crino for this contribution to our blog.

Many people suffer from foot issues, and as we get older, these can become more prevalent and painful.

Choosing the right pair of shoes is important regardless of the size, shape, or general condition of your feet. However, when you do have foot problems, the type of shoes you opt for is even more important. Choosing the right shoes goes beyond just looking for men’s comfortable sneakers or comfortable women’s shoes. You need to focus on particular features that provide support to the part of your foot causing you problems.  

The following are some general tips to help you choose the best shoes for foot issues you may deal with.

Heel Pain

There are underlying causes of heel pain like plantar fasciitis, which causes pain on the bottom of the heel, and Achilles tendonitis, causing pain at the back of the heel. Bursitis and heel spurs can also trigger heel pain.

The key, if you have heel pain, is to choose supportive sneakers, like Taos women’s supportive sneakers, or sneakers for men with support. When you have shoes with arch support, it helps align your feet properly and distributes weight evenly across your foot. That then reduces the pulling and pressure on your heel that causes pain.

Even when choosing sandals, if you have heel pain, make sure they have adequate support.

Bunions

Bunions can cause stiffness in your big toe, and having a bunion can put pressure on your other toes. You want shoes that fit well, and never wear shoes that are too tight. Tight shoes can make bunions worse.

Look for shoes with ample space around your toes, and keep the heel low. Along with the wide tox box, you want sturdy soles and arch support. You ideally want a full range of motion in the joint affected by the bunion.

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses can be caused by factors including spending most of your day on your feet, regularly running or participating in activities where your feet are rubbing against your shoes and socks, and also wearing shoes primarily for fashion too often.

To find shoes that are good for existing corns and calluses and can help prevent future ones, look for a pair that is comfortable and gives you room to move your toes but also feels secure on your foot.

When your shoes are too big, they can rub while you walk. If your shoes are too small, they can put too much pressure on specific parts of your foot.

Also, don’t buy wide shoes unless you really need them. If your shoes are too wide for your foot, it causes sliding inside the shoe, which can lead to calluses.

Instead of getting an unnecessarily wide shoe, choose with one an insole providing arch support.

Pain in the Ball of the Foot

Finally, pain in the ball of the foot is sometimes referred to as metatarsalgia. If you have this issue, it may be due to the fact that the fat pad on the ball of your foot is worn down. Look for shoes with plenty of padding in the forefoot to make up for that lost natural cushioning.

Connecting on a Budget: Video Chat Solutions for the Pandemic

Our thanks to Jim Vogel for this contribution to our blog.

Learn more about the mature consumer market at The Business of Aging.

The longer the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, the harder it is to remain isolated from friends and family. However, for older adults and other vulnerable groups, traveling and attending big family gatherings is still too risky. The need to connect safely during the pandemic has given rise to a demand for affordable, user-friendly video chat technology for older adults. But while tablets and gadgets are cheaper than a plane ticket, they still put a dent in older adults’ budgets.

How can older adults reap the benefits of social technology on limited budgets? These cost-saving solutions keep older Americans connected through the pandemic.

Free Apps for Staying Connected

For older adults on a tight or limited budget, free apps are the best place to start. Free apps for the social distancing era include the following:

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is a great tool because most of us are already on Facebook. In addition to chatting with friends, Facebook Messenger supports video calls for up to eight people and Rooms for 50.

FaceTime

FaceTime’s biggest drawback is that it’s only available on Apple devices. But for Mac users, this free iOS app is one of the simplest out there.

WhatsApp

Big family? WhatsApp supports group chats for up to 256 people so everyone stays in the loop. WhatsApp also supports video calling for connecting face-to-face.

Skype

Skype is another video chat solution that works no matter what type of device or operating system you’re using. Skype supports one-on-one or group video and voice calls.

Marco Polo

Marco Polo is the best app for families separated by time zones. Rather than chatting in real-time, Marco Polo lets users send video messages that can be stored and viewed any time. While Marco Polo’s premium version costs $5 a month, users can access the app’s core features for free.

Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party)

Whether families want to view a new release or a holiday classic, Teleparty lets them do it together with synchronized playback and group chat. Users need a Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or HBO subscription to watch, but the Teleparty app itself is free.

How to Save Money on Video Devices

When it comes to new technology, older adults prefer to keep it simple. Devices with complicated interfaces and batteries that constantly need charging are likely to end up in a desk drawer.

Tablets and smart displays are the best options for video calling. More comfortable than tiny smartphone screens, these gadgets are both feature-rich and easy to use. Unfortunately, they’re also pricey: Most smart displays start around $200. These include the Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub, and Facebook Portal. Meanwhile, popular tablets like the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab run anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to $1,000-plus.

Two notable exceptions are the Echo Show 8 and Fire HD. While these devices offer smaller displays than the other options, at around $100 they’re great options for buyers on a budget. Alternatively, buyers can wait for price drops on the most popular video calling devices. Watching the Daily Deals at Best Buy is a great way to get a steep discount on new technology. Shoppers can also use a Best Buy discount code to save at any time.

Not everyone wants to purchase a new device to video chat. Whether they’re minimalist or just on a budget, older adults can upgrade their video calling experience without spending hundreds. Many of the most popular webcams, including the Logitech C310 and Microsoft LifeCam, cost less than $50 and come with built-in microphones. A ring light or LED light panel ensures even lighting and good video quality at any time of day.

Now more than ever, it’s important to stay connected. While some older adults assume anything high-tech is out of reach, connecting face-to-face during the pandemic is more accessible than you might think. Whether an older adult has $50 to spend or $1,000, there’s a video calling solution that’s right for them.

Five Fun Activities To Do With Your Grandkids

**Please practice social distancing and wearing masks if/when needed for these activities.

Our thanks to Cristin Howard for this contribution to our blog:

Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.

Visits from grandchildren are a joyous occasion. There’s nothing quite like the hugs, snuggles, and smiles your grandkids bring when they come to see you.

However, the initial excitement can quickly wear off and kids, as they’re prone to do, might start complaining that they’re bored.

While being bored isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you’d like to have some fun suggestions for when your grandkids come to visit, look no further.

We have compiled a list of five fun activities to do with your grandkids!

Take a Walk

Getting out and moving is good for every generation, and there are significantly less breakable items outside on a walk than inside.

If your house is on a busy street, or doesn’t have a sidewalk, consider driving to a nearby park or trail to take your walk.

Walking with kids is a surefire way to get them talking, and you’ll be surprised how quickly they start to chatter about all the things going on in their lives.

Depending on the ages of your grandchildren, expect bouts of running interspersed with stopping to look at bugs, leaves, acorns, and exciting cracks in the cement. Exploration is good for kids, and they’ll definitely remind you how to stop and smell the roses!

One advantage of going for a walk is that it’s an outdoor activity.  So, if you put on a mask and practice social distancing, this one is on the safer side of the spectrum.

Do a Puzzle

Puzzles work for kids of almost any age (once they’re past the toddler stage) and with a wide range of size and piece numbers, you’ll be able to find a puzzle that can entertain several people at once, even with a wide age range.

Younger kids can help with more challenging puzzles by sorting out like pieces and having them try to put together a small portion of the puzzle.

Puzzles themselves have a few extra perks. One is that you can talk and catch up while working on the puzzle, but it takes some of the pressure off when it’s quiet as well. Another is that a puzzle is a come and go activity. This works well for kids with short attention spans, or when parents need to get dinner ready or change a diaper.

Get in the Kitchen

Yup, that’s right, get those kids in the kitchen! If you have some skills (or just a little bit of knowledge) and enjoy whipping up tasty treats, then invite your grandkids to join you when they come over.

Don’t worry if you’re not a great chef. Even making slice n’ bake cookies together, or cooking a box of macaroni and cheese can be a great memory for both you and your grands. The kitchen is an excellent place for kids to learn new things and family traditions, histories, and recipes are often passed down through shared cooking experiences.

Another perk to spending some of your visit in the kitchen is that kids are more likely to eat when they help cook. Learn their favorite foods and encourage them to try new things at the same time!

Trade Technology Secrets

While it’s true that the younger generations typically know the latest and great technology tricks, grandparents often have a few apps and ideas of their own that they can share with their grandkids.

Playing with different apps or even learning how to use technology better is an easy and educational way to pass the time with your family. If your grandchild is an artist, they can draw you on a drawing tablet and send you a digital copy, or if they love to code, ask them to show you some of their creations.

There’s always something new to learn and do when it comes to technology, even if it’s just putting together a playlist to share your favorite songs!

Read a Book

A classic for a reason, reading a book never gets old, and it’s an activity that can be enjoyed at every age. Maybe your grandchild is learning to read and wants to read their favorite story to you, or perhaps you have a favorite book that you would love to share with the next generation.

Either way, sitting down and reading a book is entertaining, educational, and creates some common ground to help spark conversation later on in the visit.

If it’s hard for you or your grandchild to read aloud, consider using one of the audiobook apps to listen to a story or podcast together. There are so many to choose from, both long and short, that you’ll never run out of material!

This is actually a great activity for current times as well.  Even with social distancing in place, setting up a Zoom or Facetime call to do a little reading can work quite well.

Zoom Calls, With An Agenda

Depending on their age, your grandchildren might or might not have the patience and attention span for a long conversation.  But, that doesn’t mean that Zoom calls can’t still be fun. They key it to have a few different ideas ready to make the best use of your virtual time together.

One idea is to tell a few jokes. You might pick up a children’s joke book and read a few near the beginning of each call. This is a great way to get things off to a good start.

You can also play games like Twenty Questions.  Games like this can be a lot of fun and a great way to spend quality time from kids, even when you’re not in the same room.

Make Visits Count

If you feel pressured to make sure your grandkids have a fun time with you, take a deep breath and relax.

Kids have a way of finding things to do and the most important activity when you’re together is spending time and making memories. And for that, you don’t need to plan much of anything!

How Technology is Extending Life at Home For Older Adults

Our thanks to Karen Smith for this contribution to our blog

Bio: Karen Smith has been working for MePACS as the Head of Sales and Marketing for the last four years and has over 20 years experience in health, technology, digital and finance industries.

No one enjoys getting old, but unfortunately it happens to all of us eventually. More older adults are choosing to age at home, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The countless virus outbreaks in aged care homes have made people wary about putting their aging relatives into these facilities. In Australia, a survey that was conducted this year found that only 15% of Australians between the ages of 60 and 80 trusted the aged-care industry.

While older adults are happier living at home, this comes with its own challenges as families can be concerned about their elderly relative’s safety. In the US, 27% of people aged 60 and over live alone and more prosperous countries tend to have smaller households. Technology is able to support independent living for older adults by keeping them safe, helping them with daily tasks and staying in touch with others.

As we age we tend to go out less and it’s estimated that older adults spend 80-90% of time at home. This means that the chances of having an accident are much more likely to occur around the home which is why many older adults are starting to embrace smart technology that is helping to keep them safe.

The global population is aging

By the year 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65 according to the United Nations. Advances in healthcare and technology are also allowing people to live longer, which will put increased strain on hospitals and aged care homes. We need home healthcare technology to meet the demands of our global aging population.  

Unfortunately, getting old comes with a higher chance of health problems. Some common conditions that happen with old age include:

–   Hearing loss

–   Cataracts

–   Diabetes

–   Dementia

–   Heart disease

–   Back and neck pain

It’s not uncommon for a person to experience many conditions at the same time. People who are overweight, have an unhealthy diet or don’t do exercise can also be more likely to develop health conditions later in life.

We now have smart technology that can monitor heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels without even needing to see a doctor. It’s important to note that technology isn’t a replacement for seeing a healthcare professional, but rather a way of collecting and tracking personal data so you can make an appointment to see someone if something is wrong.

Devices that help older adults stay safe

While there are many devices available on the market that are helping older adults to age at home, here are a few that deal with key issues affecting people in the older age bracket.

Smart kitchen appliances

Kitchens can be a dangerous place for older people, which can be due to:

–   Forgetting to turn off a tap or switch off an appliance which could lead to water overflowing or starting a fire  

–   Falling over with a hot object due to lack of balance

–   Forgetting how to use something in the kitchen due to a medical condition

If you’re looking to make your kitchen or a family member’s kitchen safer, there are smart stoves and ovens that can automatically shut off if they detect smoke. There are some devices that can also detect motion in the kitchen, so if someone were to walk away and leave the stove unattended, it would automatically switch off.

There are also a number of other devices that can make the kitchen a safer place including smart refrigerators that monitor food consumption and can alert you when supplies get low.

Smartwatches with fall detection

While medical alerts for fall detection are nothing new, a stylish smartwatch with automatic fall detection is much less bulky. The added bonus is that the wearer has all the benefits of owning a smartwatch including telling the time, in-built GPS and fitness tracking that can motivate them to do daily exercise.

Falls are the most common injury in older adults and they can have devastating consequences. Not only can they cause hip fractures or broken bones, but they can cause a person to lose confidence in their own ability. If the person is unable to move and lives alone, help is difficult to get which is why a fall-detection smartwatch can be a life-saving device.

Medication reminders

Many older people can be on several types of medication. Forgetting to take medication or doubling up on doses can have serious consequences, which is why technology can help to alleviate this problem.

Smart speakers that include a voice-activated virtual assistant can be set-up to remind the person to take their medication. There are also smart sensors that can be placed around the home that use artificial intelligence to learn the movements of a person and can alert them if they forget to take their medication or remind them that they have already taken it.

For those that are more forgetful, there are automatic pill dispensers that can be filled up by a caregiver or a family member so that the person cannot access the pills unless they come out of the dispenser.

Data privacy concerns

Any device that collects its own data and can communicate via a network is part of the ever-growing gadgets known as the Internet of Things (IoT). When it comes to collecting health data, this raises concerns about regulation and who has access to this data.

For example, an older adult with health conditions might be happy to share their personal data with their doctor but wouldn’t want that same data being shared with a third-party.

While virtual assistants and home sensors are improving the lives of older adults wishing to live at home, there is growing concern about what companies are doing with all that data.

As our society comes to rely more and more on technology to make our lives easier, the industry needs to design tough privacy regulations to keep vulnerable adults safe.  

FAQs on Practicing Yoga Amid the Pandemic: How Seniors Can Stay Safe

Our thanks to Jim Vogel for this contribution to our blog. 

Yoga is a great form of exercise for older adults, but the pandemic has disrupted many seniors’ yoga routines. Not only are studios closed in many areas of the country, seniors also tend to be at a greater risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19. But it doesn’t mean you have to put yoga on hold. Find a few solutions to help you continue doing yoga throughout the pandemic.

Q1: In what ways is yoga beneficial for seniors?

A1: You might be surprised at how much seniors can gain!

3 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

How You Can Improve Your Balance with Yoga

4 Ways Yoga and Meditation Can Mellow the Mind and Soothe the Soul

 

Q2: How can I practice yoga at home if I’m hesitant about going to a studio?

A2: Even though some yoga studios are reopening, you might still feel uncomfortable in a group, and that’s okay. You can practice yoga at home in a variety of ways.

The 8 Best Online Yoga Classes of 2020

Chair Yoga for Seniors: Reduce Pain and Improve Health

Yoga At Home: Stay Motivated With This Insider Trick

How to Check Your Form When You’re Doing Yoga at Home

 

Q3: How can I practice yoga safely at home while avoiding pain and injuries?

A3: Finding motivation to do yoga at home is great, but you will also want some gear that makes it safe for you to practice without an instructor.

Why Are Seniors Turning to CBD?

Get Pain Relief with the 25 Best 1000mg CBD Creams of 2020

3 Yoga Props You Need in Your Routine

4 Yoga Mistakes that Can Cause Knee Pain

 

Q4: How can I stay safe if I decide to go to a yoga studio for in-person classes?

A4: If you want to enhance your home practice by trying in-person sessions, sign up for classes with a studio that has reopened. However, take precautions to stay safe.

How to Exercise with a Face Mask — And What Not to Do

When and How to Wash Your Hands

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Do I Do If I Feel Sick?

How to Clean Your Yoga Mat the Right Way

 

Doing yoga amid the pandemic sometimes requires a different approach, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. It’s worth setting up a practice area at home or even venturing out into the world to attend an in-person class — precautions in place.

4 Ways to Refresh and Feel Your Best Despite the Coronavirus

Our thanks to Gabriel Patel for this contribution to our blog. 

Feeling good about yourself – both inside and out – is essential for keeping a positive outlook on life. But since heading to the salon or beauty parlor hasn’t been an option for some time, you need to get creative when it comes to looking and feeling your best. Here are four ways to refresh, whether you’re staying home or heading out as pandemic restrictions lift.

1. Expand Your Perspective

As an older adult experiencing the pandemic, you might feel more “other” than ever before. Though quality of life is a concern for many people, empty nesters or those without family around often feel overlooked. But the truth is, the older generation has more of an influence on society and the economy than you might think.

Expanding your perspective by exploring resources from The Business of Aging could help reframe your thoughts on your coronavirus experiences. At the very least, you’ll learn that you have more to offer than the younger set might think.

2. Indulge in Self-Care

Self-care is one way to pamper yourself without leaving home. Whether you’re avoiding outings in public or want to stress less and continue to stay home, dedicating time to caring for your body is beneficial.

Schedule a spa day at home to refresh your body and mind. Consider adding CBD soap to your routine, especially if you’re managing dry or otherwise sensitive skin. Before buying, check out sizes, scents, and whether your favorite CBD soap is full- or broad-spectrum.

Other rejuvenating skin treatments can help combat the effects of staying indoors for so long. Remaining in self-isolation with the AC on has likely caused your skin to become drier than normal.

Prevention recommends choosing a moisturizer based on your skin type, whether you have sensitive skin or are prone to adult acne outbreaks. Especially for delicate facial skin, which becomes thinner as you age, consider a gentle moisturizing product.

If you plan to venture out as pandemic restrictions lift, pack sunblock along, too; studies suggest that only 15 percent of older adults regularly use sun protection.

3. Get Moving in New Ways

Moving your body is always trendy, but these days, it’s more about innovative routines that you can do anywhere.

Trying a virtual fitness class is a low-stakes way to try a new exercise regimen at home. Programs like SilverSneakers are typically covered by your health insurance and offer health provider-endorsed activities for enhancing balance, increasing muscle strength, and more.

If you opt for in-person courses, check out classes near you that take place outdoors. You can also seek fitness opportunities that employ other methods of reducing germ transmission, such as reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing.

4. Declutter Your Home

Like most Americans, you may have decided to start a new hobby or begin projects around the house during the pandemic. But the combination of doing more at home and not being able to entertain could mean your home has become cluttered.

You might not think it matters much, but Mayo Clinic confirms that clutter around the house can impact your mental health and distract you from important tasks. Extra stuff everywhere can even impact your sleep – so it’s vital to start creating more open space in your home.

Taking it step by step, and day by day is the best way to begin cleansing your living space. Break down tasks into manageable chunks, and you’ll accomplish more and feel better while doing it.

Staying home for such a long period has impacted many older adults in ways they didn’t expect. But now that society is reopening, the transition to the new normal requires an effort. By expanding your perspective, caring for yourself, and freeing up your living area, you can start to feel like yourself again – even as things continue to change.

Photo via Unsplash

After decades of denial, pandemic is making Minnesota baby boomers feel their age

By Kevyn Burger Special to the Star Tribune

Baby boomers, the generation that refuses to age, might have met their match in the coronavirus.

Marilyn and Juan Galloway exchanged a look that many married-with-children couples might recognize.

Their 22-year-old daughter had just dropped an unintentional bombshell, one that left them equal parts amused and wounded.

“She said, ‘If you guys get COVID, you’ve lived your lives,’ ” said Marilyn, of White Bear Lake. “She was dead serious, like, ‘You’re elderly and at the end of the road.’ We were stunned. We’re 55 and 63. We run, golf and bike. We’re more active than our kids. At the age that my grandmother wore a housecoat, I spiked my hair and dyed it purple.”

For baby boomers, it seems that COVID-19 has done what self-denial and evidence to the contrary has been unable to do: make them feel old.

For the generation whose youthful battle cry was “Don’t trust anyone over 30” and who prided themselves on remaining relevant as the years accumulated, being lumped in with the cohort regarded as frail and vulnerable has come as a shock.

“The pandemic has been a reckoning for baby boomers,” said Scott Zimmer, a speaker and trainer for Bridgeworks, a Wayzata consulting company that advises businesses on generational dynamics.

Based on sheer size, the 76 million American boomers, now between ages 56 and 74, have been courted by marketers since their postwar arrival. They have reframed every life stage they’ve passed through and were in the process of rewriting the script for their retirement years when the coronavirus arrived and stripped away their pretensions.

“They retain a youthful spirit and don’t want to slow down like previous generations. They take on encore careers and find new activities to be passionate about,” Zimmer said. “Now they’re forced to acknowledge that they’re not invincible. Even if they’re in great shape, they can’t deny that their age puts them in greater danger if they catch the virus.”

Dings and Dents

Writer Bill Souder’s upcoming biography of novelist John Steinbeck is titled “Mad at the World.”

That could also describe the 70-year-old author’s feeling about the way his age group is characterized.

“ ‘Seniors.’ ‘Elderly.’ I don’t like those terms. ‘Your sunset years.’ The labels they attach feel like they are trying to erase you. The message is that when you get older than a certain age, you’re in this other category. You are diminished, a fossil,” he said. “I don’t belong in that club.”

Souder has preferred to define himself by his activities rather than his age.

“I ride my bike, I still wade a trout stream. Last year I got a new hunting dog to trudge through the forest and fields with me. I do the same things I did when I was 40, but a little slower,” he said. “I’m like a golf ball. I’ve got dings and dents, a little asthma, a little heart disease.”

Since the arrival of the virus, Souder’s pre-existing conditions, previously regarded as minor and manageable, have prompted him to act with caution. He’s isolating in his home in Washington County in the company of his wife, their adult son who’s quarantining at home following a furlough and Sasha the wire-haired pointing griffon.

“At a certain age you are at an elevated risk and you have to live your life differently,” he admitted. “The science is clear. I can’t spin it.”

Ageism at the Root

For many boomers, the pandemic is revealing, even cementing, some long-held negative stereotypes associated with aging.

“They are experiencing ageism with the assumption that a number — their age — is the defining marker,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, a national association of nonprofit providers of aging services. “They may have experienced ageism in the workplace, but not in their day-to-day lives. They’re seeing how the contributions of older adults are undervalued and underappreciated.”

Age is just a number, but how that number is perceived is subjective. As people get older, the definition of “old” changes. In a Pew Research Center study, only 21% of those between the ages of 65 and 74 said they felt old, and just 35% of those 75 and older self-identified that way.

Advances in medical science in the past half-century have created a longevity revolution that is giving Americans not only longer life spans, but more years of good health. Still, anyone north of 55 is often lumped into the same age category.

Lori Bitter believes that happens out of “ignorance or laziness.”

The president of the Business of Aging, a California consultancy that advises companies marketing to mature consumers, Bitter thinks the older demographic needs to be sliced thinner.

“There’s not enough understanding that 65 and 85 are vastly different, just as people who are 50 and those who are 65 are nowhere in the same territory. Some of the language used for this vast, diverse group is ridiculous,” she said.

“Companies and others trying to speak to the different ends of the cohort need to distinguish between them,” she said.

It’s a fine point that the pandemic does not take into account.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “the greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older,” the CDC also generalizes with the statement that “As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases.”

That means that in the foreseeable future, taking the threat of the virus into consideration may cause baby boomers to live more constricted lives.

“We really don’t want to get it, so we are being conservative,” said Souder. “We don’t touch our kids. We sit in the backyard. All bets are off on when that will change. But I’m not bedridden, I don’t have one foot in the grave. I’m here and a high-mileage version of myself.”

Kevyn Burger is a Minneapolis-based freelance broadcaster and writer.

This article is originally featured in StarTribune.