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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/

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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. 

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.  

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.

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! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Business of Aging reports on how older adults are “Hacking Longevity”

Hacking Longevity is the first study to examine how three generations of adults over the age of 50 – Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent Generation – are thinking about and planning for longer lives. Until now, the idea of increased longevity has been mostly conceptual and aspirational. Through a rigorous research process, Hacking Longevity examination, provides insights on how brands and organizations can better serve consumers of the longevity economy. The study was conducted in the Fall of 2017 and Winter of 2018 and led by Lori Bitter at The Business of Aging.

The study debuted at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington DC in April. This timeline illustrates key inflection points in people’s lives as they age, as revealed in the data. To learn more about Hacking Longevity, join us in June at The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit where we will provide a briefing for attendees.

Hacking Longevity was conducted in partnership with Collaborata, and underwritten by AARP, Wells Fargo Advisors, GreatCall, and Proctor and Gamble Ventures.

Design for Aging – Learning from Other Cultures

by Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld, Ph.D., Environmental Gerontologist, and Professor-Parsons School of Design, and Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging

Thinking Cross-Culturally About Aging-in-Place

A different language is a different vision of life.

Federico Fellini, film director & scriptwriter

We are eager to learn from other cultures, but usually not when it comes to making our homes safer or more age-appropriate. Our food preferences are another story. We don’t hesitate to stock our kitchens and cupboards with the ingredients we need for a healthy Chinese stir fry or Turkish couscous.  If only we were as willing to think cross-culturally about aging in place.

We can learn a great deal about home safety from the housing, home-furnishings and design options offered across the world, especially in other nations with rapidly aging populations. Aging in place is a more creative process than it has ever been before.

The beauty of globalization is that it gives us a world of options for designing our homes. To paraphrase Burger King, we can truly “Have it our way,” as we prepare to age in our homes. I learned this lesson well   when Wid Chapman and I were writing Home Design in an Aging World.

Backstory: Home Design in an Aging World

Architect Wid Chapman and I decided to write a book to make cross-cultural comparisons of environments where people age-in-place: everything  from apartments, detached and semi-detached homes, to traditional farmhouses, communes, and high tech dwellings. In 2009, we surveyed homes and home furnishings available to older people in seven of the world’s most rapidly aging nations: Japan, Sweden, China, Brazil, Israel, the United States, and India. By the year 2009, all 7 of these nations were being reshaped by what the Japanese call The Silver Tsunami, and what we describe as The Age Wave.  We decided to do a comparative study of design and architectural responses to global aging.

This led to the publication of  Home Design in an Aging World (NY: Fairchild, 2010).  The book remains one of a handful of cross-cultural comparisons of architecture and design for aging-in-place.

Chapman and I have asked how architecture and design respond to kinship norms. How is aging-in-place shaped by Hindu kinship, which is strongly patriarchal and multigenerational? Or by the sensibilities of Sweden, where fertility is quite low and people typically live in nuclear households?

As environmental gerontologists, we were curious about the impact of age-related norms on aging-in-place. For instance, would aging-in-place be discouraged in Brazil, one of the world’s most youth-oriented societies.  And how about Japan? Unlike Brazil, Japan, is a gerontocracy where elders and old age are honored, and where pride of place in their children’s homes is enjoyed.  What is the impact of the high U.S. divorce rate and small family size on our own architecture and design for aging-in-place?

Chapman and I focused on both Western cultures (USA, Israel, and Brazil); and also on cultures where non-Western architectural norms and traditions are still in play (Japan, China, and India).  What follows are some examples of how constructed environments and local technologies interact with social norms to affect the experience of aging-in-place.

Vernacular Design

Learning from other cultures involves appreciating that there is often a mix of traditional home design – what architects call “vernacular design” – and cutting-edge technologies such as robotics. New technologies, combined with strategic changes in homedesign, are making it easier than ever before to age in place. People on the cusp of retirement can build upon new technologies to create everything from home offices to home care for a variety of chronic illnesses.

What follows is a very brief look at “lessons” drawn from other cultures, ranging from low-tech/high-touch to high-tech/low-touch,  and from ancient to post-modern.

Japan: Living Close To The Floor

There is an old Japanese saying which goes, “May you live and die on tatami.”  This refers to the bamboo mats which cover traditional Japanese homes from wall-to-wall. Home-furnishings in traditional Japanese homes are low-slung or actually on the floor. The futon is perhaps the most familiar example of this approach to home-furnishings. Low, traditional Japanese home furnishings are ofchigaidana-chofu-mori-residence-bigten moved from room to room as needed. This occurs on the tatami mats which cover the floor of a traditional Japanese home.

The floor-based Japanese design aesthetic features low-slung furniture and futons for sleeping that make any home safer. Apart from reducing falls, floor-based lifestyles enhance strength and balance. My sources tell me that even the most contemporary homes in Tokyo or Osaka contain a “Japanese Room” with traditional tatami mats on the floor, and Tokugawa detailing throughout.

Apart from being reverent about its past, Japan is also a world leader in technological innovation.  Japanese homes often contain a mix of products and technologies that hark back centuries, as in the case of traditional tea-sets or futons, and also look ahead to a robotic future. For example, there is a growing number of Japanese households with robotic pets – mostly dogs.

Futurist Timothy Horynak (2006) claims that the interest in robotic house pets reflects Japan’s passion for incorporating the newest of technologies with time-honored canons of Japanese design and home life. Robotics is the product of digital design and innovation. Tatami dates back centuries. That they exist together in some Japanese homes is a reminder that Japanese proudly mix tradition and technology. This may be the new face of aging in place in Japan and elsewhere in the world.

Brazil: Universal Design Begins at the Front Door

Brazilian architect Sandra Perito, from Sao Paulo, has designed Senior Housing that is intended to prevent domestic accidents, especially falls (Rosenfeld and Chapman, 2012). Perito  routinely adds a built-in table on the front porch or entry to a home. Perito makes sure that this Entrée Table is as close to the front door as possible. In apartment buildings for Brazilian Seniors, she does much the same.

The idea behind Perito’s Entrée Table it Seniors a place where they can place packages, bundles, or a purse while searching for their keys. The inspiration came from a elderly woman from Sao Paulo who lost her balance while rummaging through her purse in search of her keys. Perito adds this reminder: her table also functions as a grab-bar for additional balance while locking or unlocking the front door.

Scotland: Why Smaller is Better When it Comes to Refrigerators

On a trip to Scotland many years ago, I visited a number of homes in the Scottish Highlands where people either had very small refrigerators, or no refrigerator at all. Those without refrigerators kept perishable items in their cellars.  The climate in the highlands is such that the home’s basement is always cool enough to put perishables for a day or two.

Philip B. Stafford, author of  Elderburbia: Aging With A Sense of Place in America offers the following advice:  It is best for older people to have small refrigerators.  It has nothing to do with household size, he says.  Very simply, people with small refrigerators must leave home more frequently to do their grocery shopping.  The small refrigerator is an antidote to isolation.

France: Smart Home-Technology 

Beginning in 2013, Paris-based Netatmo has been developing a line of user-friendly Smart Home devices.  By “user-friendl3y,” Netatmo means that their technology provides feedback when and where their user is. For example Netatmo’s home security camera, “…detects and reports in real-time if someone lurks around your home, a car enters your driveway, or your pet is in the yard.”

User-friendly technology provides feedback at home, and also when the user is at work or on vacation.  The user can be far from home and rely on Netatmo’s personal weather station to keep track of  the weather at home. The personal air-quality sensor does the same for levels of air-pollution in and around the house.  The product line also includes a Smart thermostat and a Smart security camera with facial recognition. As more people opt to age-in-place, Netatmo provides the technology for safety and security.

Singapore: Robotic Home-Exercise Coach

In 2015, Singapore company RoboCoach, Inc., introduced  a robotic “exercise coach” at five of Singapore’s Senior Centers. The RoboCoach has a smiling face and appendages  that mimic human movements.  The robot has been developed to teachSeniors  a range of exercises while offering verbal encouragement and support.103266869-robocoach-1910x1000

According to The Guardian, the company predicts that RoboCoach will become a popular fixture in many of Singapore’s Senior Centers and Senior Living Facilities.  The goal is to enable the elderly to lead more independent, fulfilling lives.

“…The android with metal arms and a screen for a face is already leading sessions and will roll out its services to five senior activity centers across the city-state this year.”

Infocomm Development Authority of  Singapore (IDA)

China:  The World’s Earliest Example of Universal Design

BMEHED Elderly Salar man on Kang bed-stove with his granddaughter, Xunhua Salar Autonomous County, Haidong, Qinghai, China

Aging-in-Place, More Global Than Ever

Going forward aging-in-place will mean combining renovation and innovation: changes to the constructed environment of home, and the installation of  technologies which will make living at home safer and easier.  That said, it is as important as ever to respect the role that culture plays in making a home safe to age in place. As technology becomes a more important part of this process we must:

  • Consider how culture shapes the relationship between “private space” and “public space” in and around the home
  • Respect cultural traditions that shape the spaces where people cook, eat, sleep, and toilet. Designers and gerontologists should be mindful of how age, sex, and marital status all shape the form and function of a home
  • Understand the symbolism and social meaning of color in the architecture and design for every culture.

References:

About the Author: For the past 10 years, Dr. Rosenfeld has been researching the interplay of ethnicity, aging, and home design. He is currently looking at home design and community-building by Brooklyn’s “New” ethnic elders from Korean, India, Pakistan, and Guyana. Along with architect Wid Chapman, AIA, he has written Home Design in an Aging World (Bloomsbury, 2010), and UnAssisted Living (Monacelli Press, 2012).

Dr. Rosenfeld is also currently working with the research arm of New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  He is looking at ethnic differences (incidence and prevalence) of serious geriatric falls in the home.  The goal is to better understand how ethnically-themed design contributes to ethnic disparities in home injury. Dr. Rosenfeld has been on the adjunct  faculty at Brookdale Center since May, 2015. He can be contacted through Parsons School of Design at Rosenfej@NewSchool.Edu; 347-249-4014.

Destination Singapore: Restoring the Joy of Eating

By Ani Grigorian, with Jeff Rosenfeld

In a single century, we have extended human lifespan by 35+ years. At the same time, technology has evolved to the point where we can now communicate instantaneously across oceans, benefit from software which coordinates care and manages health.

We have even created robots which sense emotion and even lead group exercises.   Not only are we living longer.  We are living better!

It’s no wonder that technology and innovations that serve our aging communities are such a hot-topic. The Ageing Asia Innovation Forum, hosted this year in Singapore, brings-together professionals, inventors, and problem solvers from all over the world.  During this meeting, they had the opportunity to sample a new line of food products: Health Food Matters. The founder, Grace Gan, calls it a functional food product because it is intended for people who have feeding issues.

Gregorian was one of the few environmental gerontologists in attendance at these meetings. By and large, the Forum brings designers, inventors, and product-developers together.

On exhibit was a plethora of products and designs meant to make life more comfortable, and nutritious for people with feeding issues.  In other words, people who need help feeding themselves, or who need to be fed.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-11-06-07-pmGrace Gan, a native Singaporean, developed this line of functional food products in response to the older people in her own family. The product line is called Health Food Matters, with the subtitle, “Restoring the Joy of Eating.” It is steadily gaining popularity across Singapore, perhaps because it does make eating a more joyous and dignified experience for consumers – and their caregivers.

The original market for Health Food Matters  was older adults, and people living with a disability.  Gan at first marketed exclusively to care centers and retirement residences across Singapore.

Gan, a speech therapist by training, had spent a lot of time working with patients in Singapore’s care-centers.  She was frequently present when meals were served, and she noticed that food-preparation, serving and eating were fraught with stress and tension.

Even more important, Gan noticed that feeding was as stressful for the caregivers and wait staff, as it was for patients who were being fed.

It is familiar that the sense of taste begins to dull as people grow older, affecting the ability to taste, smell and savor food.  This is true even for people aging-in-place at home, where there is more control over what is on the menu, and how it has been prepared.   In care settings, the dulling of taste buds is compounded by loss of control over menu, and dining conditions.

To compound matters, many older adults in institutional care live with neurocognitive disorders that cause dysphagia, a nutritional disorder characterized by difficulty swallowing, malnutrition and dehydration. Malnutrition and dehydration, in turn, contributes to other conditions such as bed sores, infection and hypoglycemia.

When Grace Gan visited Singapore’s care centers, she noticed that it was common practice to thicken food with milk supplements.  The idea was that this would make institutional food more nutritious and more palatable.  But, in fact, Gan believed that the result was neither nutritious, nor palatable.  Milk supplements did not typically enhance appetite, or contribute to better health.

Gan developed Health Food Matters as a way to enhance appetite by making its functional food line taste more like familiar food, and have what professionals call, the “Mouth Feel” of eating familiar food.  In taste and texture, Health Food Matters has the taste and “Mouth Feel” of familiar food, but is much softer, and easier to eat.

Products range from porridges, side dishes, snacks and desserts to condiments and thickeners with a variety of flavors that serve different  functions. As an alternative to thickened fluids, apple ENA-charge fruit jelly for instance, supplement fiber while apricot fruit jelly supplement zinc and iron. Calcium sprinkles can be added to porridges or side dishes providing flavor, color, and extra vitamins which combat low appetite and malnutrition.

In addition to keeping patients in mind when developing functional food products, Health Food Matters has benefits for caregivers. Most important, it relieves them of many meal-related burdens: chopping and cutting food, feeding patients or assisting them when they feed themselves, and the perpetual chore of cleaning-up.

Portions tend to be small, but are densely packed with extra nutrients, proteins and calories. This achieves nutritional goals for patients, and gives caregivers an unexpected bonus. The Health Food Matters philosophy  also harmonizes with Singapore’s efficiency-driven culture:  Mealtime becomes more “Efficient.”  Less food is wasted, and less time is spent coaxing patients to eat. This resonates with local nutritionists and caregivers because Singapore is a culture which strives for efficiency.

One reason for the efficiency, is that this product-line is easily prepared. Caregivers simply submerge prepackaged food bundles in heated water. Nurses and care staff can focus on caring for residents rather than worrying about the viscosity and portion-size.

Products range from porridges, side dishes,  snacks and desserts, to condiments and thickeners with a variety of flavors that serve different functions. As an alternative to thickened fluids, apple ENA-charge fruit jelly for instance,  supplement fiber while apricot fruit jelly supplement zinc and iron.

Calcium Sprinkles, another of Gan’s innovative products, can be sprinkled over porridges or side dishes to enhance flavor, color, and nutritional value.   Caregivers tell Gan that the Calcium Sprinkles also make food look more festive and inviting.

Grace Gan believes that Health Food Matters will eventually be a welcome alternative to forced-feeding.  Thanks to this Singapore-based product, older people all over the world can one day look forward to enjoyable dining, in the company of family or friends.

Even now, local care facilities in Singapore residents report improved health outcomes  when they serve Health Care Matters, Inc. to patients and/or residents.   Caregivers also report minimal food wastage and easier clean up.  Residents enjoy Health Food Matters, Inc. that they often clean their plates.

Above all, Health Food Matters  makes mealtime into dining once again.  Health Food Matters restores dignity to breakfast, lunch, and dinner in long-term care facilities.  Eating can and should be a social experience, something which is true everywhere from Singapore to Seattle.

Singapore is considered to be a leader in applying cutting-edge, sustainable, technology to geriatrics. Technology-based interventions, such as robotics, are already making long-term care facilities more efficient.  Health Food Matters may be doing this for meals and mealtime in long-term care.

Singapore is a world leader in developing and applying technology to geriatrics. Health Food Matters has been proven to make mealtime a more efficient experience.  It may well be that this product-line can also make mealtime a more spiritual and social experience. For older people and people with disabilities. That would be the proverbial icing on the cake!

Contact:  Ani Gregorian:    animgrig@umich.edu

Jeff Rosenfeld:    Rosenfej@newschool.edu

 

 

Destination Tel Aviv: Entrepreneurship in Israel

Paula Adleman, with Jeff Rosenfeld, Ph.D.

Israel is no amateur when it comes to creating new and revolutionary products.  This powerhouse, nicknamed The Start-Up Nation, is now at the forefront of “The Business of Aging.”  VitalGo’s Total Lift Bed, developed by Israel’s Ohad Paz and Ofer Parezky, is one of the examples of this kind of revolutionary product.  VitalGo’s remarkable bed has already made life safer and easier for older people in Israel and many countries around the world.   

Upright Tilting Functionality

degreesThe Total Lift Bed (TLB) has a unique, “…upright tilting functionality” (UHS, 2015:1), which helps patients sit up, stand and start moving away from the safety of the patient’s bed.  This makes it a very therapeutic bed, thus making the TLB more than just a comfortable place to sleep. Click here to see a demonstration of Total Lift Bed.

One hospital in the US tested how the TLB worked for their patients.  They found that patients who were tilted up several times per day improved more in a shorter period of time, and more of them were able to go home than patients who were confined to bed and had traditional therapy (UHS, 2015:1). TLB’s unique functionality minimizes the risk of falling out of bed, and helps contribute to shorter hospital stays.

The Total Lift Bed is FDA registered and is used in Israel, USA, Germany, Austria, U.K, Switzerland, Italy, France, Australia and Norway. Some hospitals in the US include: The Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins, Stanford University Hospital, Carolinas Specialty Hospital, Florida Memorial and various Veteran Affairs (VA) hospitals.

bed-recline

Seniors, whether in hospital or in their own homes, and regardless of whether they are in good health or not, have a higher risk of falling and becoming less mobile. Immobility then increases the risk of many health conditions and furthers the risk of falling and decline in quality of life.  The use of the bed   decreases this risk.

Many of the patients who have used the TLB have reported that, “This bed undoubtedly saved my life!” The hospital where the study was done found that the TLB “…improved patient-outcomes, the cost-effectiveness of providing care, and the satisfaction of patients and their families.” (UHS, bed-verticle2015:1).

Israel and The Business of Aging

Israel’s demographics make it an ideal marketplace for TLB.   In July of 2016, The Jerusalem Post estimated that 10.6 percent of Israel’s population, or 866,000 people, are now over 65.

According to a recent UN publication: “For most nations, regardless of their geographic location or developmental stage, the 80 or over age group is growing faster than any other segment of the population.”   Global aging has thus created an international marketplace for the TLB in the world’s hospitals, rehab centers, and personal residences for people who wish to “age in place” in their own homes.  VitalGo’s marketing efforts are responsive to the fact that there is already a worldwide need for the TLB, both in hospitals and at home.  

 Aging-in-Place, With Dignity

Many seniors prefer to age-in-place (at home) whenever possible. Safety concerns, aging minds and decreased strength and mobility, along with increased risk of falling (especially getting up out of bed where many falls occur) can make aging in place challenging or unsafe. The chances of falling out of a bed, a chair, or down a flight of stairs increases with age, even for the healthiest of seniors.

One of the key goals in the development of the Total Lift Bed has been to help Seniors age in place with safety and dignity.

At home, or in the hospital, the TLB does most of the lifting that caregivers (whether they be trained professionals or loved ones) would ordinarily give. The TLB does not replace the human touch, but rather, enhances the ability of the caregiver to provide the healing touches needed, without the heavy lifting that leads to caregiver burnout and risk of injury. Additionally, being able to be raised smoothly and effortlessly enhances the quality of the mobility experience, without having to worry about hurting their nurse or loved one who is helping them to get up and move.

With the push of a button, whether at home or in the hospital, TLB contributes to mobility and self-confidence.  Hence, individuals, patients and caregivers (whether professionals or loved ones) are beneficiaries of the Total Lift Bed.

References

“Israel’s Elderly Population To Double By 2035,Statistics Bureau Says”   The Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2016

Carolina’s Specialty Hospital Evaluates The Total Lift Bed In Their Mobility Program”  Universal Hospital Services, 2015:1

For more information about the Total Lift Bed, see the Vital Go site.

Contact:  Paula Adleman:   Paula@Boomersurf.com

Jeff Rosenfeld :   Rosenfej@newschool.edu

Biosketch: Paula Adelman has an eclectic background and divided her time working in sports, raising 2 wonderful sons and helping the aging population. She has a business degree, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.  She divides her time between the US and Israel. Paula is the founder of BoomerSurf.com, an American/Israeli based tech start-up. Through BoomerSurf, she is helping Boomers and Seniors manage computer, tablet and smartphone tasks online and through It improve their connection to family, friends and community.  For more information visit: BoomerSurf.com.