Older adults join the tech revolution

shutterstock_243533803 Technology is becoming less of a mystery for many older adults. For some, devices like tablets and smartphones, and services like the Skype video calling program, are becoming a part of everyday life.

In 2013, the Pew Research Center studied technology use and trends among Americans age 65 and older. Here are some of their findings.

• 59 percent of seniors said they go online—up six percentage points from the previous year.

• 77 percent of older adults have a mobile phone, up from 69 percent the previous year.

• 27 percent of seniors own a tablet, an e-book reader, or both. 18 percent own a smartphone.

• 79 percent of older adults who use the internet agree with the statement that “people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” while 94 percent agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”

If you’ve been wanting to learn more about using your computer, tablet or smartphone, here are some ways to begin:

Ask for help. Ask a son, daughter, or grandchild to walk you through the steps for what you want to do. The Pew study found that only 18 percent of seniors feel comfortable learning to use a new device on their own—so you’re not alone!

Be patient. Don’t try to learn everything at once. Focus on a particular program or function — email, Facebook, Skype, texting, etc. —until you get the hang of it.

Worried about privacy? You’re right to be cautious, but don’t feel that going online will expose you completely. Never to give out sensitive information such as your bank account, credit card number, or Social Security information unless dealing with a trusted source, such as a legitimate shopping site like Amazon.com.

For more good technology tips for seniors, visit seniortech.us/tips/

Why I decided to make friends with death

We know we will die someday, so we must accept and plan for it

By Irene Kacandes for Next Avenue

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Credit: Getty Images

(This article was written as a part of The Op-Ed Project.)

While we may fear meeting death alone, most of us are actually more afraid of dying surrounded by the wrong kind of people — that is, by health care workers.

Yet that is all too likely to be our fate. Statistics are squirrely, but many point in this direction. Seven out of 10 Americans express the wish to die at home. More than 80 percent of patients say they want to avoid hospitalization and intensive care at the end of life. And yet, the current reality is that about three-quarters of us actually die in some kind of institutional setting.

What is the source of this disconnect? As someone who has spent most of the last 15 years grappling with loved ones’ life-threatening illnesses and deaths (and co-authored a book on the topic), I’ve come to the conclusion that it starts with our attitudes — with our failure to recognize that our births guarantee our deaths.


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5 things to do during and after a hospital stay

Tips for making your time there as painless as possible

By George H. Schofield, Ph.D. for Next Avenue

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Credit: Thinkstock

Any hospital stay can be a revelation. When it’s totally unexpected, the experience can be even more fraught with surprises. I speak from personal experience and have some advice based on it.

Last year, I had pain severe enough to require a middle-of-the-night visit to the ER. It turned out to be kidney stones — stones that felt like boulders and required an invasive procedure (a ureteroscopy) to view, measure and then zap them into dust. Star Wars inside my body while I was out cold.

The procedure was performed at a great hospital. I had a great specialist. It all went well.

Even so, as I was recovering, I realized just how important it is to be prepared for a medical emergency that requires hospitalization. What if the searing pain was a symptom of something far more serious — something that rendered me unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, such as what follows a stroke? What about an injury while I was out bike riding or a car accident?


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Purposeful aging: A model for a new life course

New possibilities for older adults produce dividends for all

By Paul H. Irving for Next Avenue

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Credit: Thinkstock

Editor’s note: This article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging  project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging. Paul H. Irving was a member of the 2015 Influencers In Aging Advisory Panel.

Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org, offers an insightful observation about the promise and potential of longer lives. “Thousands of baby boomers each day surge into their 60s and 70s,” he wrote in a recent article for The Wall Street Journal. “It’s time to focus on enriching lives, not just lengthening them; on providing purpose and productivity, not just perpetuity.”

While population aging brings health, financial and social risks, an understanding of the opportunities is emerging. At the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging,  we study, convene, report on and respond to these risks and opportunities, searching for solutions to bring beneficial change. Joining with others who share our vision, we believe that it’s time to challenge conventional wisdom and established norms — that new possibilities for older adults hold promise for strengthening societies, expanding economies and improving life for all ages.


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5 ways to keep your kids from fighting over your will

Follow these rules now to prevent a family war later

By Patrick O’Brien for Next Avenue

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Credit: Thinkstock

It is your worst nightmare. You’ve passed away, and now your adult children no longer speak to each other. Circumstances around your death have destroyed the family you spent your life building. As the CEO and co-founder of Executor.org, I’ve seen this all too often.

But this terrible scenario is preventable, if you plan properly.


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The 2 big misconceptions about long-term care

Cautionary words from a Next Avenue Influencer In Aging

By Sudipto Banerjee for Next Avenue

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Credit: Thinkstock

(Editor’s Note: This article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging.)

There are many uncertainties in retirement. For example, we don’t know how long we are going to live, what the interest rates will be or how the stock market will behave. But one thing is nearly certain: our health will decline as we age.

That means at some point, most of us will face serious functional limitations and, in the event of serious health shocks, maybe even permanent disability. As a result, a large number of older Americans might require professional medical care at home or in institutions such as nursing homes. But there is a lack of awareness about the risk of long-term care because of two big misconceptions surrounding the topic.


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Why am I just getting allergies?

Allergic reactions can strike adults, and here’s what you can do

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue

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When my daughter was two, I took her and her older brother blueberry picking near our hometown of Arcata, Calif. The farm owners weren’t too concerned about children “sampling” the goods. So my kids scarfed plenty of fruit before we got out of there with a full bucket.

The next day, a red rash blanketed my daughter’s torso. She was allergic.

Now that she’s a teenager, the allergy has disappeared. Allergies are funny that way. We often grow out of the ones we had as children.

But — as many of us know all too well  — we can also grow into allergies as adults.


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This play puts Alzheimer’s caregivers in the spotlight

By Deborah Quilter for Next Avenue

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Credit: Photo by Carol Rosegg Caption: (L to R) Sharon Washington, Marjorie Johnson, Finnerty Steevens.

If you have ever cared for an older person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, a new play by Coleman Domingo (who’s also an actor and director) running through March 23 at  Manhattan’s Vineyard Theatre will likely touch a nerve. Though Dot focuses on a middle-class black family from West Philadelphia, audience members who stayed for a discussion about caregiving after the performance I attended found the message of this comedy-drama universal.

Shelly, sympathetically portrayed by Sharon Washington, is the put-upon daughter who performs the lion’s share of her mother Dotty’s care. Shelly, who also has a 9-year-old son, is already at the boiling point when the play opens. If we could see her blood pressure, it would be through the roof.


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PMMA observes Older Americans Month

ShowcaseB_300x250For more than 50 years, the contributions of older adults in the U.S. have been recognized every May during Older Americans Month. President John F. Kennedy established the observance in 1963 as Senior Citizens Month, encouraging us all to pause and pay them tribute.

Since then, Older Americans Month has evolved into a celebration of older adults’ ongoing influence in all areas of American life. Spearheaded by the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency stages activities throughout the month to raise awareness about important issues facing older adults and to highlight the ways that they are advocating for themselves, their peers and their communities.

The theme for Older Americans Month in 2016 is “Blaze a Trail.” According to the Administration for Community Living, this theme “emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.”

Consider what older adults have done in the years since 1963, when only 17 million Americans were age 65 or older. Now, the number is more than 44 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s about 14 percent of the population. About 22 percent of men 65 and older remain in the workforce, as do 14 percent of women.

Many older Americans continue to serve as leaders in our economy, politics, the arts, business, and much more. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. Is 69. Actress Rita Moreno is 84. And Ruth Bader Ginsberg, at age 83, has been a Supreme Court Justice for nearly a quarter of a century.

While Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America provide quality senior services guided by Christian values year-round, we will use Older Americans Month 2016 to focus on how older adults in our community are leading and inspiring others, how we can support and learn from them, and how we might follow their examples to blaze trails of our own. Find out more about the observance at acl.gov/olderamericansmonth.

 

Logos at http://oam.acl.gov/2016/logos.html

Fit at any age

shutterstock_383296726For more than two decades, May has been a time to focus on fitness for older adults. The last Wednesday in May is observed as National Senior Health and Fitness Day, with the goal of helping older Americans keep healthy and fit. This year’s observance is May 25. And it’s also Older Americans Month, which has been observed since 1963.

Bev Stephens, RehabCare’s wellness coordinator, says fitness is an attainable goal for any person at any age. She teaches four classes a week at Farmington Presbyterian Manor, each lasting half an hour, that emphasize strength, flexibility and balance – all key to helping older adults maintain both their health and their independence.

“My classes aren’t as simple as you might think,” Bev said. “They really get a good workout. It’s a high level for seniors, and they do a good job.”

At the same time, Bev said, she never pushes someone to work beyond their capabilities. She has only two rules: have fun, and work at your own level. All of her exercises can be modified, so that everyone can adjust to their own abilities and still get a benefit.

“I really try to be their advocate so they can trust me,” she said “They know I have their best interests at heart.”

Bev watches for signs of imbalance or weakness in her students, so she can refer them to therapy before serious problems set in.

The free Senior Fitness Testing is another way residents can check in with their physical condition and make easy corrections now.

Bev also gives the monthly Healthy Learning Lecture on topics that are relevant to residents.

May is the perfect time to try a new activity or to refocus on your physical health. Remember the theme for Health and Fitness Day 2016, “Improve Your Health for a Better Self.”