Category Archives: Aging in place

“What Robots Can—and Can’t—Do for the Old and Lonely” – The New Yorker

“For elderly Americans, social isolation is especially perilous. Will machine companions fill the void?”

animatronics

by Katie Engelhart

“It felt good to love again, in that big empty house. Virginia Kellner got the cat last November, around her ninety-second birthday, and now it’s always nearby. It keeps her company as she moves, bent over her walker, from the couch to the bathroom and back again. The walker has a pair of orange scissors hanging from the handlebar, for opening mail. Virginia likes the pet’s green eyes. She likes that it’s there in the morning, when she wakes up. Sometimes, on days when she feels sad, she sits in her soft armchair and rests the cat on her soft stomach and just lets it do its thing. Nuzzle. Stretch. Vibrate. Virginia knows that the cat is programmed to move this way; there is a motor somewhere, controlling things. Still, she can almost forget. ‘It makes you feel like it’s real,’ Virginia told me, the first time we spoke. ‘I mean, mentally, I know it’s not. But—oh, it meowed again!’

“‘She named the cat Jennie, for one of the nice ladies who work at the local Department of the Aging in Cattaraugus County, a rural area in upstate New York, bordering Pennsylvania.”

Click here to read this New Yorker article in its entirety.

“American Jobs Act proposes big dollars for caregiving — here’s the bigger vision it lacks” – The Hill

“It’s about time we as a nation acknowledged the critical importance of caring for adults in their fragile years to both the economy and the fabric of our society.”

home care

by Amy Cameron O’Rourke, opinion contributor

“President Biden’s American Jobs Plan includes a provision to invest $400 billion in “caregiving infrastructure,” including to create jobs and raise wages and benefits for workers who care for the elderly.

“Having built a 40-year career as a care manager to older adults, my first reaction to this news was sheer jubilation. It’s about time we as a nation acknowledged the critical importance of caring for adults in their fragile years to both the economy and the fabric of our society. Once I’d come back down to earth, I began to wonder: In what other ways might a $400 billion investment be used to jumpstart the sort of fundamental change our eldercare system so desperately needs?

“As everyone knows, the coronavirus hit nursing homes and other long-term care facilities the hardest. Their residents constitute less than 1 percent of the U.S. population yet accounted for at least 32 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. To date,182,000 COVID fatalities occurred in long-term care facilities, residents and staff combined. What seemed minor by comparison was the emotional blow for families unable to visit their loved ones in nursing homes.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg of the nursing home dilemma … ”

Continue reading this article in its entirety at The Hill, click here.

“A Son Turned His Mother’s Story Of Workplace Ageism Into A Heart-Warming Documentary With A Message” – Forbes

biggest adventure“Despite struggling for three years to find work, Rebecca Danigelis is learning to enjoy life–thanks to her filmmaker son.” –  SIAN-PIERRE REGIS

by Sheila Callaham

“Sian-Pierre Regis’ documentary Duty Free chronicles the story of his mother, Rebecca Danigelis, who was fired without cause at age 75 from her job as a hotel housekeeper.

“Danigelis had spent her life working in hospitality and prided herself on perfection. While she admits to having seen other people pushed out of the workplace as they got older, she was determined it would never happen to her.

“Until it did.

“On the day she was fired, the first person she called was Regis. She’d cashed out most of her 401(k) to pay for his college education, and when he asked how much money she had saved, the answer was frightening–only $600.

“Danigelis needed another job and fast.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety at Forbes Magazine.

“‘Your mouth becomes a minefield’: the Americans who can’t afford the dentist” – The Guardian

“Pandemic job cuts have meant many people have no insurance to pay for dental work – and the poorest are hardest hit”

older persons dentistryMillions of Americans have no dental insurance coverage and cannot afford to pay out of pocket for extensive dental care needs.” Photograph: Megan Jelinger/Reuters

by Michael Sainato

“Maureen Haley, 66, lost her home in Florida in the wake of the 2008 recession. She now lives in a camper near Greensboro, North Carolina, relying on social security and Medicare to make ends meet and pay for healthcare.

“But Haley has problems with her teeth, and cannot afford to see a dentist to have them fixed.

“’My teeth problems are the biggest problem I have each day,’ said Haley. ‘I need root canals and implants. I have a tooth impaction. I have to massage the heck out of it to get the air out of my gums and cheek after chewing a meal. Painful is an understatement, and the worry of how this may affect my heart compounds it.’

‘She worries about remaining independent, and not ending up in a nursing home. On a limited income, her decisions revolve around what is most pressing, such as fixing her vehicle and drug prescriptions. The last time she was able to visit a dentist was three years ago, and she was given an estimate of over $8,500 for the work she needs.”

Continue reading this article at The Guardian, click here.


In September, 2019, PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources Service Area coordinator, Brian Long, appeared with others on a panel at a United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Hearing entitled, “Promoting Healthy Aging: Living Your Best Life Long Into Your Golden Years.” 

In his testimony, he reinforced “Partial and total tooth loss is something that a larger share of older persons deal with, particularly if they are from disadvantaged populations. We know that older seniors, women, persons of color, current smokers, and those with lower incomes and less education are more likely to have fewer or no remaining teeth. Missing teeth and gum disease are prevalent among many older people in those demographics. Earlier lifestyle choices and forgoing dental treatment, perhaps, have contributed to this, but we know that the absence of regular dental care and treatment can lead to disastrous health consequences.

“Again, affordability is a huge contributor. The issue of coverage for dental, vision and hearing services is about healthy
aging. Without access to these services, we know that older adults have a greater likelihood of:

  • Experiencing social isolation or mental health issues
  • Becoming the victim of a scam
  • Having difficulty accessing transportation resources
  • Struggling to adhere to their prescription medicines
  • Encountering hazards in the home”

“Covid Forces Families to Rethink Nursing Home Care” – The New York Times

“Even with vaccines, many older people and their relatives are weighing how to manage at-home care for those who can no longer live independently.”

rethink nursing homesCredit … Kristian Thacker for The New York Times

by Reed Abelson

“At 86, Diane Nixon, living in an apartment at the back of a daughter’s house, no longer drives and has trouble getting around.

“When her health worsened last year before the coronavirus pandemic, she and all four of her daughters talked about whether a nursing home would be the next step. She worried that she had become a burden to her children.

“’She was very adamant about not wanting her daughters to be caregivers,’ said Jill Cooper, one of her daughters, who lives nearby in the Pittsburgh area.

“But as infections began to tear through nursing homes across the country, killing tens of thousands of residents last year, Ms. Nixon and her family realized a group home was no longer a viable choice. Especially after most of them barred visitors to help contain outbreaks.

“’Not to be able to see her was not an option for us,’ Ms. Cooper said, so the family contacted a local home health agency to hire someone to help her during the day.”

Continue reading this New York Times article, click here.

“Meeting the Challenge of Caring for Persons Living with Dementia and Their Care Partners and Caregivers: A Way Forward”

dementia and caregivers

“At a time when unprecedented numbers of people are enjoying more years of life, this report of the National  Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine describing a way forward for meeting the challenges of persons  living with dementia and their care partners and caregivers could not be more timely and welcome. A previous  National Academies study addressed the evidence on interventions to prevent or slow cognitive decline and dementia.

“The committee that conducted the present study was charged with reporting on evidence regarding interventions aimed at improving care for persons living with dementia and their care partners and caregivers. Both of these reports emanated from a widely shared desire to avoid dreading living to old age rather than approaching a long life as a reward for a life well lived.

In the waning decades of the 20th century, when the research world “discovered” late-life Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of research to understand and address it, this developing field also recognized the need for quality improvement in caring for persons living with dementia, as well as their care partners and caregivers. Early advances  led to findings that essentially helped reduce harm caused by unfortunately common practices in the care of persons with late-stage dementia. Examples included use of mechanical restraining devices (as exemplified by so-called “Geri-chairs”) and chemical restraints, such as harmful overuse of antipsychotics. Today, Geri-chairs are virtually outlawed, and a recent report of the Lancet Commission documents declining use of antipsychotics. Likewise, harmful practices
designed to sustain life, such as the use of feeding tubes and some other forced-feeding techniques, have declined significantly. Yet, while these changes represent progress, they can best be viewed as harm reduction due to existing practices.

Click on the graphic to continue reading by downloading the report.

dementia caregivers

“Age Segregation, Loneliness and Addiction: Why Aren’t We Connecting the Dots?” – next avenue

“12-step programs reduce all three. What can we learn from them?”

combat lonliness

by Sarah McKinney Gibson

“On March 23, 2021, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy was confirmed as the Surgeon General of the

For the past 11 years, I have been an active member of multiple 12-step programs. In meetings that take place in church basements and over Zoom, I have seen people from different generations and backgrounds come together to heal from loneliness and addiction. 

“Millions of us are finding help in society’s shadows. Much could be learned from undertaking a national research study aimed at better understanding what happens in 12-step programs, and how they not only heal loneliness and addiction but bridge generational divides. 

“During the pandemic — a time of strict generational separation — loneliness, alcohol consumption and drug use have all spiked. Murthy, a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging, is well positioned to connect the dots and seek solutions in unlikely places. Like 12-step programs, originated by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the 1930s.”

Keep reading this article at next avenue; click here.

 

“Many Older Adults Lack Even Simple, Helpful Equipment” – The New York Times

“Railings, grab bars, shower chairs and other inexpensive devices can make it easier to continue living at home, but not enough older people acquire them.”

assistiive devicesCredit…Rosem Morton for The New York Times

by Paula Spahn

“In 2019, John Hancock had become so disabled after a hospitalization that he went close to a year without being able to take a bath or a shower. Using a walker, he could, with difficulty, move around the townhouse in Baltimore where he lived with his daughter and grandson. But because he felt too unsteady to climb into the tub, one of them had to help him with sponge baths.

“Then a program at Johns Hopkins called CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place — Advancing Better Living for Elders) sent a nurse, an occupational therapist and a repair person to provide some inexpensive assistive devices. ‘It made a tremendous difference in my life,’ Mr. Hancock, a retired school cook, said.

“Over several visits, the team asked about his needs and priorities and supplied a shower chair and a rubber bath mat. The repair person installed grab bars around the tub, attached a hand-held shower nozzle and added a railing next to the toilet. Mr. Hancock learned how to use it all.

“’I feel safe and I feel secure,’ he said recently. ‘I don’t have to call somebody to help me. I feel independent, and I’ve been independent all my life.’ Recovering well from a recent stroke, Mr. Hancock, now 64, can not only bathe on his own but can also cook for himself, manage stairs and go to church.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety at The New York Times.


Be sure to register for this Link-sponsored Webinar:

May 6, 2021 @ 11:00 am – “Is Assistive Technology just a device?” | Shelly Houser, presenter (Register in advance for this webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VwCzY-5-SN2j6GtFNokISA. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.)

“2 women are ‘boommates,’ educating others about sharing homes later in life” – Arizona Daily Star

boom mates“Deb Knox, left, shows Sharon Kha her choices as she prepares their lunch, April 6, 2021. The two came together four years ago when Kha needed help living in her home and Knox needed to get out of mortgage.” – Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

by Carmen Duarte

“Five years ago, Sharon Kha knew her living situation needed to change.

“She needed help because her Parkinson’s disease was advancing. She was diagnosed in 2003 with the brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination.

“’I knew that I could no longer live alone, but I wasn’t ready to move into assisted living,’ recalled Kha, 77.

“’I needed someone to cook my evening meal and someone to live in my house who could respond if I fell,’ said the former broadcast journalist and retired associate vice president for University of Arizona Communications who also served as assistant to the UA president. She retired in 2005.

“A friend mentioned Deb Knox, 76, a self-employed businesswoman who is a writing coach for those interested in writing memoirs and autobiographies. Knox moved from New England to Tucson 20 years ago. She wanted to downsize and sell her midtown condo to get out from under a mortgage.

“Kha and Knox talked on the phone about five times, and their personalities clicked, said Kha.”

Read this article in its entirety at the Arizona Daily Star, click here.

“Falls prevention still key to healthy aging” – National Council on Aging

older adults falls

See national statistics associated with burden associated with falls, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.