“Ramona Labrensz with a photo of her husband Harold at her home in Mobridge, S.D. When the local nursing home where he was living failed, Mr. Labrensz was transferred to another nursing home 220 miles away in North Dakota.” Credit Kristina Barker for The New York Times
by Jack Healy
“MOBRIDGE, S.D. — Harold Labrensz spent much of his 89-year life farming and ranching the rolling Dakota plains along the Missouri River. His family figured he would die there, too.
“But late last year, the nursing home in Mobridge, S.D., that cared for Mr. Labrensz announced that it was shutting down after a rocky history of corporate buyouts, unpaid bills and financial ruin. It had become one of the many nursing homes across the country that have gone out of business in recent years as beds go empty, money troubles mount and more Americans seek to age in their own homes.
“For Mr. Labrensz, though, the closure amounted to an eviction order from his hometown. His wife, Ramona, said she could not find any nursing home nearby to take him, and she could not help him if he took a fall at home. So one morning in late January, as a snowstorm whited out the prairie, Mr. Labrensz was loaded into the back of a small bus and sent off on a 220-mile road trip to a nursing home in North Dakota.”
We’ve been reading so much about advantages that aging persons can accrue with the introduction of emerging technology, we decided to list some of the articles.
Aging In Place Technology Watch shares this in today’s newsletter: “… it’s good to see that Envoy (concierge service for independent living), Kindly Care (home care agency), Caremerge (home care platform), and Seniorlink (care coordination) are in their same businesses from 2016 – and others from the period like Envoy and CareLinx received additional investment and moved forward.
“Smart Home Technology Becomes a Must-Have in Senior Living” – Senior Housing News
“Home Instead Inc. — the international franchise company behind the Home Instead Senior Care network — is joining forces with senior-friendly tablet startup GrandPad in an attempt to reduce client loneliness and improve connectivity.” – Home Health Care News
“Where the Home Health Aide Shortage Will Hit Hardest by 2025” – Home Health Care News
The following is a guest post from Minakshi Raj (@MinaRaj91), 4th year PhD candidate at the University of Michigan in Health Management and Policy and Theodore Suh, MD, PhD, MHS, Clinical Associate Professor in Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at the University of Michigan and Medical Director of the Ann Arbor Geriatrics Clinic.
“In my parents’ home, one of our many photo albums is inaugurated by a photograph of me, in diapers, standing by my grandfather as he holds my hand. If panoramic photography had been available in the 1990s, we’d likely see my grandmother warning him not to let go as I might fall onto the wooden floor and develop a fear of taking my next step. In another, much thicker photo album, I’m taller and a decade older with my arm circled around my grandmother’s elbow as she leans against a walker supported by tennis balls to help her glide gracefully across the floor. As she clutches the walker, I can recall her saying, ‘Take the picture quickly; I can’t stand much longer’.’
“My paternal grandparents, married for over 65 years, had drastically different personalities, but both similarly desired engaging with friends, relatives, and even strangers.”
Age Wave conducted nine recent study reports in collaboration with Bank of America Merrill Lynch on the future of retirement. These reports were created by reviewing thousands of papers and datasets, conducting over 140 expert interviews and 43 focus groups, and surveying 50,000+ respondents. The nine reports cover a variety of topics regarding retirement, including family, health, leisure, and finances. All nine reports are followed by sample media coverage.
Click here to read this insightful and intriguing report.
“Real Seniors lack essential technology – who will make it happen in 2019?” – Aging in Place Technology Watch
by Laurie Orlov, Laurie Orlov’s Blog
When Pew stops tracking senior adoption, does that imply a market saturated? Rant on. Note this Fact Tank aggregation of technology adoption statistics (tech overall among seniors, last reported in 2016) – and the most recent data cited on Internet use, seniors were quoted in a 2016 survey, 44% of responders did not use the internet users. Of those that do, older adults aged 65+ said they had little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks. Let’s think about their non-confidence (not broken down into the 65-74) and the 75+ who are the Real Seniors.
Does that fear imply lack of training? Or too much media reporting about scams, breaches, and identity theft – most of which it is difficult to detect and nearly impossible to prevent? Who knows, since Pew appears to be largely done – after all, they note, 89% of Americans are online and they do not survey all questions each time. AARP published a survey last year that included responders in their 70s — we stay tuned for the next update.
Are those who should care about this not doing enough? Here are questions to ponder moving into 2019 for those whose job, business, or non-profit organization is explicitly to help seniors go online (you know who you are):
- For seniors, why is there a problem with non-use? Note the research from Michigan State cited in an AARP article: “Greater technology use was associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic conditions, higher subjective well-being and lower depression.” The study also found that technology use reduced feelings of loneliness. And let’s not forget how many services can be discovered and accessed online, including scheduled food delivery, transportation requests, buying tickets and signing up for local events. And have we mentioned online banking, accessing Social Security information, buying savings bonds – oh, and then there’s healthcare access, including finding a doctor or benefiting from telehealth services?
- Are there still senior centers or organizations that do not have high speed internet? You know where they are – maybe they haven’t figured out the right source of grants, like, for example, Grantmakers in Aging? Senior centers are partially funded by the Older Americans Act – which also provides Meals on Wheels. But there is nothing in the Act (beyond partial funding of senior centers) that specifies professionally delivered training of seniors on technology use or supporting seniors in their usage. This is a policy change and it’s high time that the policy was changed.
- Why isn’t technology training of seniors required to be delivered by professionals? Is it because it is viewed as non-essential because it is ‘free’? The Geek Squad isn’t free, so why is there no magnanimous donor group focused on helping seniors who could fund a regular visit of several Geek hours to a library, senior center or other community center who could help individual older adults during designated hours with their devices? AARP pays for training it offers in its regional workshops, which is free to participants. Presumably organizations like OATS, expanding outside of NYC (but still reaching a small percentage of seniors), must use grants to pay trainers to do the offered training, which is free to attendees. This should be the standard of caring about seniors — offer professional trainers combined with free training.
- But you ask, so why isn’t ‘volunteer’ training good enough? Because at today’s pace of technology change, it can’t be. Read the list of Geek Squad services again. Or look at another nationwide competitor, HelloTech (ads bash Geek Squad) or Bask or many paid services in various geographies. You hopefully get what you pay for. Free training may be well-intentioned – and it is appropriate in stores of carriers who provide the connectivity. But it is very expensive to stay current with the myriad of always-shipping new devices and OS variations and upgrades, required to keep a device secure. Add the difficulty (and costs) of getting an operational router, high speed internet printing from multiple devices, streaming from devices.
- Smart phones for seniors: why can’t every Real Senior have one? And no, it’s not to read dumb text messages heads down and fall into a manhole – nor is it about the social media company that cannot be named. Smartphones are useful in so many ways that without one, day-to-day life and flexibility are circumscribed. GPS turn-by-turn directions, research about what’s nearby when traveling, renting a car, checking reviews before eating in a restaurant or checking into a hotel, for starters. And that doesn’t count emergency advice from WebMD or Mayo Clinic. So that brings me to:
- Why isn’t there a senior discount to get a smartphone? No, I am not talking about the cell phone plans. Senior discounts are offered in at least 180 categories. But what about 50% discount an iPhone or Galaxy S9 – to get them into the 21st century of their grandchildren, assuming that other infrastructure is available to help them (in-store training, upgrade assistance, and on and on.)
- When will everyone have a voice-activated TV remote? Voice-activation and control will surely be standard for smart TVs, but sites that cater to seniors aren’t sources for finding them. Nor is there any apparent interest in re-engineering older remotes to support voice input. Why not?
Baby boomers cross 73 in 2019, becoming Real Seniors in 2 years. They will likely live, on average another 10-15 years or more. For the next 18 years, the growth in the number of Real Seniors will continue. Shortages of in-home care workers are worsening, new, hopefully tech-enhanced services are already forming. Senior living firms, meanwhile, are over-expanding to accommodate them, hopefully in communities with high speed internet and WiFi access everywhere. For all of the Real Seniors to be, now’s the time to tech-enable their future, don’t you think? Let’s not keep having this conversation for the next 18 years. Happy New Year. Rant off.
contributor: Richard Eisenberg, next avenue
“You’ve probably heard about age-friendly communities; maybe you even live in one of the 305 cities and towns with the AARP ‘Age-Friendly Community’ designation. But what you might not know — and what I learned attending the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) conference in Boston last week as a Journalist in Aging Fellow — is that a few states are now designated as age-friendly, too.
“So far, New York, Massachusetts and Colorado have been granted the age-friendly state designation by AARP, joining AARP’s new Network of Age-Friendly States. On November 14, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to ‘improve health and well-being of New Yorkers across the lifespan.’ Other states, such as New Hampshire, Rhode Island (which has the highest proportion of residents over 85), New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina and Oregon may follow.
Click here to find out “What It Takes to Be an Age-Friendly State” as you read the this article at Forbes in its entirety.
Read these related articles, too:
- “Lehigh, Northampton accepted into AARP Age Friendly Communities Nework”
- “Pennsylvania officials discuss shaping ‘age-friendly communities’ at hearing”
- “Healthy Communities in PA: Growing Older … | Growing Older — and Designing Smarter”
Here are Pennsylvania’s Age Friendly Communities:
- Allegheny County (September 2015) | Survey | Action Plan
- Lehigh County (June 2018)
- Northampton County (June 2018)
- Philadelphia (April 2012*) Survey | Article
- Pittsburgh (September 2015) Interview | Survey | Action Plan
- Swarthmore (September 2017)
- West Chester (May 2016*) Action Plan
“More than half of older Americans lack the skills to gather and understand medical information. Providers must simplify, researchers say.”
by Paula Span
“Every time her parents pick up a new prescription at a Walgreens in Houston, they follow Duyen Pham-Madden’s standing instructions: Use the iPad she bought for them, log onto FaceTime, hold up the pill bottles for her examination.
“Her mother, 79, and father, 77, need numerous medications, but have trouble grasping when and how to take them.
“The label may say to take one pill three times a day, but ‘my dad might take one a day,’ said Ms. Pham-Madden, 56, an insurance purchasing agent in Blue Springs, Mo. ‘Or take three at a time.’
“So she interprets the directions for them, also reminding her mother to take the prescribed megadose of vitamin D, for osteoporosis, only weekly, not daily.”
Continue reading this important article at The New York Times, click here.
“100 and counting: Lancaster County centenarians continue to live meaningful lives” – LNP – Always Lancaster
Centenarians are more visible than ever before. This article has several portraits of the active 100 + year-olds living in the county. “They are not only living longer but are living better, thanks to relative prosperity, better nutrition and medical advancements.”
Do you remember reading this LNP – Always Lancaster article from earlier this year?
“A project for former service members could become a model for other cities in the United States.”
“In a community of tiny houses in Kansas City, Mo., Air Force veteran Leo Morris now calls #3 his own. (Christopher Smith/For The Washington Post)”
“KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 13 tiny houses sit in neat rows on the small plot of land in south Kansas City. There’s a comforting uniformity to the group, each structure a simple A-frame or slant roof, painted a rich hue: deep blue or dark maroon, slate gray or mustard yellow. An American flag flies outside most of the homes.
The lives inside also match. The men and women here have all served their country in uniform. And every one of them was homeless before arriving this year and being given their own address and key.
“’We build communities — communities that are the beginning of a journey for those who said yes to this country and need someone to say yes back to them,’ said Brandonn Mixon, an entrepreneur who helped to found the Veterans Community Project out of frustration with the usual efforts to get veterans off the streets.”