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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

LinkedIn: https://ph.linkedin.com/in/ringwald-rommel-p-sarmiento-ii-69270413aFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarmientobash/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarmientobash/

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.

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.

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.  

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.

Giving Gifts That Make a Difference

I get to take a look at products designed for older adults every day. This year I brought technology from two companies I have known since their start-up days into the homes of my parents.

Technology

After the passing of my step-dad, my Mom decided she wanted a medical alert device. We turned to Greatcall and Lively.  As I knew it would be, the service she has received has been exceptional. My Dad, who lives in a rural area, expressed an interest in some sort of device to stay in closer touch with us. He was especially missing all of the photos of his newest great grandson. Knowing that he is not tech savvy, we were reluctant to put an ordinary tablet in his hands. Instead we turned to GrandPad. Because of his location, the set-up proved difficult, but the service was excellent, we were communicated with about solutions, and understood the issues. I am happy to be the influencer on these purchases, and to experience the service models these companies have created.

Comfort & Joy

While I live and work in the world of technology, I’ve been working very hard this year to uncover things being created for older adults that bring joy, comfort and fun. There is plenty of investment in technology that solves for the dissonances of aging. There is not nearly enough focus (or funding) on joy. My short list of gift ideas is focused on this theme!

Give Loved1

Loved1 is subscription gift box for older adults that contains items focused on wellness and happiness. The difference is that the items are carefully curated to encourage engagement between the sender and receiver. Subscribers, usually the adult children, receive an email about the items in the box and an Engagement Guide filled with ideas to promote rich conversations and fun interactions. Subscriptions come in 12, 6 and 3 box options. This is the perfect gift for your family member living in a community to encourage family members of all ages to visit and engage around fun activities; and if you are long distance caregiver, the items in the box create conversations beyond the basic check-in calls. You can listen to my friend Paul Vogelzang’s Podcast with Loved1’s Joe Adams to learn more.

Bridges Together

Bridges Together is the go-to organization for intergenerational engagement. They offer training and tools to help individuals and communities embrace and create a truly age-integrated world. Schools, communities, and companies use the Bridges curriculum to create all types of intergenerational activities. Founder Andrea Weaver calls intergenerational engagement “an inoculation against ageism.” Become part of the age integrated movement and subscribe here. You can see the outstanding “How To Guides” that are part of your subscription. If you are looking for a fun stocking stuffer, or a way to stimulate non-political discourse over the holidays, check out the Grand Conversation Cards. This deck of cards has thought-provoking questions for people of all ages to encourage deeper conversations among multiple generations of family. These are great for the dinner table (sans devices), for workplace training, or you can play one of the games that come in the How To Guide.

 

Clothing That Comforts

Jan Erickson created Janska from a dream about a jacket. She had an older friend who had become disabled from a series of strokes. The hospital gown became her wardrobe and Jan wanted to create something to keep her warm and also restore her “personhood” during this difficult time. That jacket that Jan sketched from her dream launched a made-in-America clothing company with five collections and accessories sold nationwide. The Clothing That Comforts line is the embodiment of Jan’s philosophy that clothing does matter, and that soft, warm pieces provide dignity that can be lost when you are facing a health or mobility challenge.

I gifted my Grandmother with the Lap Wrap Shawl and the MocSocks. (I love the MocSocks too!) Imagine the joy that the cozy fabrics and beautiful colors will bring to your loved one!

 

However you celebrate the season, I hope you and your family have love, joy and fun! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing Hacking Longevity Research with California Assisted Living Association (CALA)

I am excited to be sharing insights from our latest research project, Hacking Longevity, with members of CALA on June 6th, 2018 in Sacramento. We’ll be discussing generational differences that make communication across three generations of older adults trickier, plus looking at Generation X as the new generation of family caregivers.

The theme for this year’s CALA Spring Conference and Trade Show event is “Elevate”:

el·e·vate / eləˌvāt / verb

  • raise or lift (something) up to a higher position.
    synonyms: raise, lift (up), raise up/aloft, upraise
  • raise to a more important or impressive level.
    synonyms: promote, upgrade, advance, move up, raise, prefer

We look forward to helping Senior Living professionals find new ways to elevate and shape the care and services they provide while enhancing residents’ quality of life through greater understanding.

To learn more, or to attend CALA’s Elevate Spring Conference and Trade Show, click here.

To learn more about Hacking Longevity, click here.

Excited to talk about The Business of Aging’s new research at AARP on April 12th!

The Business of Aging’s new research, Hacking Longevity, will premier at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington D.C. on April 12th. The event will feature an “experience” of key data points of attitudes and changes displayed along a timeline at the Newseum in Washington DC.

The research is sponsored by AARP, GreatCall, Wells Fargo Advisors and Proctor & Gamble on the new Collaborata research platform.

The agenda for the AARP’s Living 100 Event can be found here.

Watch our social media – Facebook/TheBusinessofAging and Twitter – @LoriBitter and @TheBusinessofAging for live updates!

On my radar: Death Cleaning

On my radar are trend bytes – a gathering of observations – that indicate a larger trend is at work. 

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo for a boomer-focused blog. It’s a hot trend right now. In my research I consistently hear older adults say that they have a lot of stuff. They tell me it keeps them from moving and “rightsizing” their living situation. They say it makes them depressed. Most of all they tell me their kids don’t want their stuff! After hearing about the Kondo method on television, I thought I’d check it out. I tried it in my own house (and am continuing to use it)! It is freeing to rid yourself of things you no longer wear or use.

Just this week, I was sitting in on a focus group for my latest project and heard of a twist on this idea. When asked about their passions, one woman in the group said she was really excited about “death packing.” She went on to describe a process similar to Kondo’s but is about gradually getting rid of things so that your loved ones don’t have to.

What is Death Cleaning?

The process, called Death Cleaning, is Swedish. The Swedish word is dostadning. It means slowly decluttering your life until you die; it generally begins in your fifties and is done so no one else is responsible for your leftovers! There is also a book about it by Margareta Magnusson, titled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter.

We have a television show called Hoarders: Buried Alive and consignment shops have successfully sprung up across the nation. In some cities, there are waiting lists for self-storage units, even though there are 50,000 storage facilities in the U.S. — five times the number of Starbucks. That’s 2.3 billion square feet. The backyard shed business is a lucrative one – 25% of people with two-car garages can’t park a car in one. We use eBay, craigslist, and NextDoor to unload things.

It’s a Trend!

Richard Eisenberg wrote an excellent article on the trend for NextAvenue called, Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff. This quote is particularly startling:

“For the first time in history of the world, two generations are downsizing simultaneously,” referring to our oldest population and the boomer generation.

With the youngest of the boomer generation in their mid-50s, there are years of opportunity ahead for companies who can help people plan, organize, store, and get rid of their possessions. I wrote about this trend for MediaPost a year ago and heard from many people going through this with their parents. There are high tech and no tech solutions here, some with very little start-up cost for the solopreneur. What do you think about the issue of being “over-stuffed” and the idea of death cleaning? I would love to hear from you!