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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.

10 Innovative Apps for Seniors

Our thanks to Artur Meyster for this contribution to our blog. 

Smartphones each year are farther away from being a cellphone and closer to being a mobile supercomputer. Therefore, it is undoubted that they play an essential role in our daily lives. The rapid advancements of technology have allowed developers to create apps that can make our lives easier—especially for seniors. Whether or not you are a fan of tech, below are some innovative apps that might come in handy and bring about positive impacts in your life.

1. FallSafety

The app offers help when you need it the most. With its intelligent fall detection feature, FallSafety can detect when a user experiences a fall and will automatically send an alert to an emergency contact or healthcare organization. The app takes a few seconds after the fall to send the alert, in case it’s a false alarm. The app is available for Android, iOS, and Apple Watch users.

2. Red Panic Button 

This app is for everyone to use in emergencies. If you find yourself in a threatening situation or if you worry about your safety, you can whip out this app and press the red button that will immediately send a text message and an email containing your GPS coordinates to your emergency contacts. This app is especially great for seniors who have problems with mobility as it will ensure they get the right help at the right time, with just a push of a button.

3. Lumosity

Lumosity is a brain-training app that can help improve a user’s memory and focus. While we could all use a little brain teaser every now and then, seniors especially can benefit tremendously by using Lumosity as it keeps the mind active in a fun way. The app offers various interactive features to sharpen your problem-solving skills and math abilities, among others.

4. Seniors Phone

At the rate of which technology is advancing, it is understandable how some seniors might find it overwhelming. That is, however, a problem of the past. Seniors Phone is an app that changes the user interface of any smartphone to a simplified version. You can customize everything—from the size of the fonts to the buttons—to make it easier for a user to navigate the smartphone. Some other features include bright-colored widgets for better identification and an SOS button which can send a distress signal to an emergency contact. 

5. VizWiz

Many seniors have deteriorated vision which can make daily activities a real challenge. Enter the VizWiz app, which allows a user to take a photo of their surrounding and receive the corresponding descriptions. According to its developer, the app combines automatic image processing, anonymous web workers, and members of the user’s social network in order to collect fast and accurate answers to their questions.

6. EyeReader

This is another app that is meant to help individuals with visual impairments. The app is essentially a unique reading magnifier that can help many who find it difficult to read the smaller print. As we age, our visions will likely deteriorate, therefore this app can prove to be really helpful for seniors to perform daily tasks that involve reading.

7. MedMinder

MedMinder is not only an app, but it is also hooked to an automated pill dispenser. This innovative device helps seniors to stay independent by alerting them about the right time to take their medications. Its safety features ensure that pill mix-ups are a thing of the past. The dispenser will be locked at all times unless it’s time to take a pill. First, the compartment will flash, then the device will make a beeping noise before sending an alert via the mobile app. If the patient fails to take the pill at the right time, the app will notify all caregivers. 

8. LibriVox

We all love a good story but what happens when your vision starts to deteriorate and reading becomes more of a hassle than a hobby? Opt for audiobooks. LibriVox offers an extensive list of audiobooks that are recorded by volunteers, available on the free public domain for anyone and everyone interested. Users can either choose to listen to the audiobooks online or download them for later. 

9. Yesterday USA

For those who are feeling nostalgic about the old times, Yesterday USA is the perfect app for them. The app is an internet radio station that broadcasts old radio shows from the 1920s to the 1970s. Now in its 31st year, the best part about Yesterday USA is you can tune in any time of the day as it operates 24 hours. 

10. Medisafe 

Medisfe is an app that works with Machine Learning and AI. The app is for seniors to keep track of all their medications. It gives reminders of when to take each pill and also alerts users when the prescription is running low. Medisafe also lets users enter their caregivers’ information, allowing the app to send alerts if the users forgot to take a pill.

Hacking Longevity Market Trends & Consumer Preference

Article Originally Published in Aging Today Newspaper of ASA.org

September-October 2019, Vol xl No. 5

There now is heightened interest in serving the longevity market, as evidenced in The Business of Aging’s 2018 study, Hacking Longevity: A Three Generation Look at Living a 100 Year Life (tinyurl.com/yxdsle49), which painted a landscape of opportunity for companies that can speak authentically to older con­sumers, and help them navigate later life.

 Many companies have built products for different generations of older consumers.

Though the needs of and opportunities to serve this consumer cohort are recog­nized and well-researched, some compa­nies steadfastly chase the youth market, assuming more money and opportunity lie there. Also, new companies and tech­nologies tend to target wealthier older consumers—those who can pay regardless of insurance reimbursement. Companies’ offerings could (and should) have more wide-ranging social impact and greater results with low-income adults, particu­larly those of more diverse backgrounds who may be managing multiple chronic conditions, who are more at risk for social isolation and who may not have technolo­gy to assist in their care. Nonprofit organizations can partici­pate in these marketing opportunities by educating young companies about the re­alities of older adults’ lives, and by work­ing with for-profit companies to provide distribution and pilot programs, bringing new products and services to more vul­nerable older consumers. Many companies claiming to target older adults have built and marketed products to at least two different genera­tions of older consumers and-or caregiv­ers, likely the Greatest and Baby Boom generations. But members of these co­horts differ in how they age—and in how they perceive their aging. Thus, it is criti­cal that companies access key consumer insights, especially because people, as they age, can’t always relate to the brands they once valued, thinking that these brands no longer speak to their needs.

Market Opportunities and Trends Solutions for the Greatest Generation were designed for a “birds of a feather flock to­gether” mindset—think suburban living and resort-style senior living—whereas baby boomers require curation: they value individuality and specialized approaches.

The personal health and fitness con­sumer category is growing. While older generations prefer group programming, the newer generations of older adults pre­fer personal trainers, individualized meal programs and customized vitamin and supplement regimes. With high rates of obesity and diabetes, companies in this space are poised for growth.

Experiences are king. The Baby Boom Generation ushered in the “age of experi­ences,” and technology has enhanced this trend’s growth. Sometimes the language of experience is “memory-making,” espe­cially when it involves a family’s multiple generations. From adventure travel to food and wine to family vacations, older adults prefer to share experiences instead of gifting “things.” They also share these experiences via social platforms or within family circles. This sharing impetus ex­tends to exploring family history and heri­tage, hence the growth of genealogy sites and DNA testing.

A preference for “little luxuries.” The new older adult appreciates not just peak experiences, but also top products— luxuries that span from gourmet ice cream to home wine cellars to designer bifocals to a meal in a celebrity chef’s restaurant. In­herent in all things experiential is sharing the experience on social media.

Home maintenance has created an in­dustry of gig workers who provide services older adults are unwilling to do or can’t do. Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and TaskRabbit all cater to this market. The segment of this home services economy ripe for innovation is the home organization–de-cluttering business. Organizations do exist, e.g., the National Association of Senior Move Man­agers, but this is a fragmented industry. Young families don’t want their parents’ furniture, collectibles and memorabilia. And, as older adults downsize and want to get rid of possessions, there is enormous (and growing) market opportunity.

Home is the center of care. As the ma­jority of older adults plans to age in their homes, professional homecare providers seek innovative ways to deliver care and services supporting the daily activities of older adults and their family caregivers. Applications for voice-activated devices (e.g., Amazon Echo and Google Home) that enable aging in the home are increas­ingly popular, as are services such as gro­cery delivery, medication reminders, care support and rides.

Products that have been used in the home for years are being re-engineered for aging at home. Consumers and care­givers are thinking about toileting and cleaning, maintaining odor control and keeping the home clean and infection-free. Expect robotics to assist with mun­dane in-home tasks.

Pet ownership is on the rise. The Baby Boom Generation has the highest divorce rates and the most aging singles. Pet owner­ship, as a means to avoid social isolation and loneliness, is more prevalent in this cohort. This indicates soaring sales of high-end pet food, pet insurance and accessories. This market also has created a service economy around in-home grooming, dog walking and sitting, veterinary services and more.

Financial services. The 2018 Hacking Longevity study revealed elders’ lack of understanding of financial products for retirement saving and, like other studies, showed that the Baby Boom Generation is understandably stressed about having enough money as they age. There is inno­vation around annuities and reverse mortgages, but these products have re­ceived mixed reviews, so selling any new versions is difficult. Consumers need more education to understand these prod­ucts’ uses and value.

The cannabis market has a Wild West feel to it.

Cannabis and CBD for pain manage­ment. The biggest category of consumer interest over the past two years is canna­bis and CBD. As states legalize medical and recreational cannabis, older adults are embracing it for pain management, help with sleeping and more. CBD prod­ucts have flooded the market with little evidence of efficacy for all of the claims made. This category has a Wild West feel to it, as start-ups appear daily; there is no clear market leader, but revenue projected by 2022 stands at $32 billion.

Companies in these trending catego­ries seek partners, just as they do inves­tors. While it can take for-profit and non­profit businesses time, imagination and key consumer research to create valuable partnerships, consumers benefit most from a careful development process. n

Lori Bitter is a marketing, research and development consultant, speaker and au­thor in the Bay Area, and author of The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boom­ers Are Bridging the Generation Gap (Ithaca, NY: Paramount; 2015).

Assisted Living or Aging in Place? How to Choose

Our thanks to Caroline James of elderaction.org, for this contribution to our blog.

 

Where to live when you’re elderly is the type of decision you want to make before life forces you to do so. If you don’t, you may discover you have fewer options than you’d hoped. Seniors who have a disability are sometimes unable to return home, and without time to spare, they have no choice but to move into whichever care facility has space.

Unfortunately, it’s also exactly the type of decision you want to avoid. No one likes thinking about losing their independence or developing an age-related disability. However, you can’t ignore the fact that two in three seniors will need long-term care as they age.

So, how do you choose where to live and receive care when you’re older? These are the three most important factors to consider.

Location

Some communities are more suited to aging in place than others. For instance, seniors who live near medical facilities, caregiving agencies, public transit, and other important amenities have an easier time aging at home than rural seniors.

Care Needs

Seniors who need a lot of daily support benefits from assisted living, where they don’t have to worry about coordinating and budgeting for in-home care. On the other hand, seniors in good health can retain full independence by aging in place. So, consider your health today and how it may change in the future; if you have chronic health conditions or mobility problems now, you’re more likely to need full-time care later on.

Cost

Assisted living averages $48,000 a year — and that cost is steadily rising. While expensive, assisted living may cost less than you’d spend aging at home. At $22 an hour, the average cost of part-time care is lower than assisted living, but seniors who need round-the-clock care can save money by moving to assisted living.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living communities offer a supportive living environment where seniors can get help with day-to-day activities, such as taking medications, preparing meals, and managing personal care. Many assisted living facilities offer perks like fitness centers, gardens, and spas.

Since every assisted living community has its own personality, you’ll want to tour several in the San Francisco area before making a decision. Keep in mind that different communities offer different levels of independence. While some have communal facilities and cater specifically to seniors needing in-home care, others offer apartments and studios for seniors who are still self-sufficient but want some basic assistance with housekeeping and healthcare. Prices also range widely in San Francisco, with assisted living costs ranging from $1,695 to $11,270 a month. Factor your budget and your needs to narrow your search for the right assisted living facility.

How to Age in Place

If you’re in good health, you may be thinking of aging in place. However, are you sure your home is the right one to age in? While most seniors prefer to age in place, many don’t live in a home suited to senior living. They might not pose an obstacle now, but staircases, narrow doorways, and dimly lit spaces become a safety hazard in your 80s.

Some seniors opt to remodel their current home while others choose to buy a new house better suited to aging in place. When making your decision, consider not only the cost but also convenience. The cost savings offered by downsizing may be modest, but moving to a newer home means fewer repairs to worry about during retirement. You’ll also be able to settle in within weeks instead of waiting months for a remodel to finish.

Whatever you choose, don’t wait to think about where you’ll live when you’re older. If you decide to move to assisted living, you’ll need time to prepare your budget and find the perfect facility for your golden years. And if you decide that you want to age in place, starting now means you have many years to enjoy your ideal home.

 

Happy Grandparents’ Day!

If you’ve read my book, The Grandparent Economy, you know that my interest in the lifestage is both personal and professional. I was raised by my paternal grandparents from infancy. It was something of a novelty in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Today that is a much different story.

The origin of Grandparents’ Day

In the 70’s, Marian McQuade was a champion of intergenerational relationships, urging young people to adopt a grandparent and to have older adults in their lives. She encouraged West Virginia’s Governor to recognize an annual Grandparents’ Day. In 1973, Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia introduced a resolution to the senate to make Grandparents’ Day a national holiday. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation making the first Sunday of September after Labor Day “National Grandparents’ Day.”

This proclamation cites the purpose, “”…to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer”.

Grandparents Today

Nearly one third of all families in the US are grandparent households, largely due to the aging of the huge Baby Boomer population. Baby Boomers are a new breed of grandparents – more engaged and financially involved – maintaining their “helicopter” status well into grandparenthood.

The other side of the grandparent experience are grandparents who step in to raise their grandchildren, just as mine did more than 50 years ago. More than 2.5 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. This transcends race and income. The growing numbers are largely due to extended deployments of parents, death of parents, and the opioid crisis. As the opioid crisis affects multiple generations, we are seeing an increase in great grandparents as the primary caregivers for children as well. Many older adults do this at the expense of their own health and retirement savings.

In May of 2017, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act” with the support from 40 older adult and advocacy groups. This act was signed into law in July. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will coordinate the work of a Federal Advisory Council to provide resources and best practices to support grandparents and other relatives raising children. It’s a great start in providing for the physical and emotional well-being of these special families.

How to Celebrate Grandparents’ Day

I have some thoughts to share from a variety of my favorite organizations.

Bridges Together

In addition to Grandparents’ Day, it’s Intergenerational (IG) Awareness Month – a month set aside to raise awareness about and celebrate the benefits of intergenerational connections. Bridges Together invites you share your stories of intergenerational relationships:

Share the power of intergenerational relationships. Write a 500 word story, create a piece of art (visual or performing) and submit it to the Kraemer IG Story Contest.  The contest is now open and will remain open until Oct. 31.  Cash prizes will be awarded.  Read more and enter now!

Loved1

Do you have a grandparent or great grandparent living away from you and your family?
Loved1 delivers a gift box of thoughtfully curated products that focus on healthy living, quality of life, nutrition, and fun. You receive an email detailing the items in the box and an Engagement Guide to encourage great discussions and interactions with your family member.

GRAND Magazine

GRAND – the digital magazine for living the ageless life – is now available for FREE. If you are a grandparent, it is the ultimate guide to this stage of life. If you know a grandparent who would enjoy GRAND, subscribe for them as a gift! Check out GRAND’s site as well for more excellent information. To get your FREE subscription, click here!