A. TECHNOLOGY HELPS SENIORS AGE IN PLACE
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A. TECHNOLOGY HELPS SENIORS AGE IN PLACE
Ageing in place the answer many seniors in America are opting for is gaining popularity, and modern technology is getting into the mix. It isn't a new concept; for millennia, humans have aged in place. When Americans lived in a largely agrarian society, families lived together in multi-generational homes. Children and adult children worked on the farm that grandparents built, while the grandparents worked alongside of them. The art of conversation was the common entertainment. Relaxing on a screened porch after work was the precursor to television. When grandparents became frail, the children and grandchildren in the family home cared for them. There simply was no common alternative until the early 1900s, when the government created "poor farms." The social stigma and poor conditions of these facilities served to prevent many from choosing them if at all possible. Not exactly how we want our beloved family members to live.
The New Deal came into play in the 1930s, and in 1935 Social Security was created. Payments matched "old age assistance" payments from states, but were not provided to those living on government-paid poor farms. As a result, private retirement homes began appearing so that seniors could receive both the Old Age Assistance and Social Security matching payments.
In 1946 the government began building modern hospitals, but with the advent of WWII, the construction was limited and at the end of the war there was a great demand for clean, safe, and respectable living and health facilities. By the mid- 1950s, government subsidies to hospitals allowed for the creation of associated nursing homes. These were a major transition in and of themselves now part of the healthcare system, as opposed to being part of the welfare system.
This provided dignity to many seniors without other means of support. The GI bill that followed, and expanding industry, meant higher-paying jobs, affluence, and mobility. The National Highway System was created, increasingly connecting a far-flung nation. "Progress" in the 1950s and 60s effectively meant two things were changing in American housing. People had more income, and adult children began moving away from their ancestral homes. When grandparents became infirm, the modern nursing home industry was in full swing.
Vast improvements have been made to the system along the way ever since, with government passing legislation to counter problems as they arise. The care today in nursing homes is the best it has ever been clean, regulated, respectable, and safe. But there are some things that government programs and nursing home care simply cannot do: equal the safety, economy, and comfort of ageing in one's own home.
Modern technology computers, that is is helping seniors move towards the goal of ageing in place, at home, with dignity. At first blush you might think, "Computers? How are computers going to help? I can't even get my email to work!" There is a general concept being pursued by technology firms regarding assistance to seniors. Instead of expending financial resources on treatment, focus on lower-cost prevention. Instead of relying upon expensive clinical facilities, move the services into the home. Finally, employ family, friends, and the individual patients themselves to provide much of the care that clinical staff used to provide. In short: "Back to the future."
With the focus on prevention and early detection of disease, digital technologies can be of tremendous value. Some of the benefits include improvement in adhering to physician-designed health regimens, staying in compliance with insurance requirements and health plans, monitoring of patients in their home, and in case of a health crisis, early detection and emergency response. When combined, it is easy to see how such benefits would not only lower costs of care and extend the time seniors can remain in their own homes, but make ageing in place possible for some when it would not be possible otherwise.
Industry, social scientists, and academia are working together on these goals. The University of California at Berkeley is working on micro-sensors that wirelessly transmit patient data in real time to a central computer in the home. If a person's behavior or vital signs change negatively such as they would if the person takes a fall the monitoring computer can sound an alarm or some other response. Biometrics, the statistical analysis of information, can be stored and measured simultaneously for review by a health professional. Intel has established a proactive health lab to study the needs of seniors and understand the best use of technology in serving those needs. Intel builds prototypes and uses them in the real world with families to test their effectiveness and make improvements.
Telephones with large display screens, wireless sensors, the PC, all are being combined in a wireless network to help seniors with social interaction. Need to know if someone brushed his teeth or took her medicine? If the micro-sensor on the toothbrush hasn't moved today, you know that Dad has yet to brush today. Perhaps you logged into Mom's monitoring system from your office and see that the sensors havent been tripped on her medicine box. Now you can begin to see some real-world benefits of this industrial movement. One major goal is a focus on the activities of daily living (ADL, the measurements we use, such as the ability to feed or dress oneself) to see if a person can adequately function, and it is easy to see why. With sensors on pill bottles and the medicine cabinet, reminders can be sent by cell phone or television, to be sure the elder at home alone remembers to take the prescriptions on time if that pill bottle hasn't moved.
These technological combinations or networks can be the eyes and ears for a caregiver who needs a meal, a rest, or a run to the store (or some time in the office). In the clinical facility the applications are equally valuable in an era of spiraling healthcare costs. A nurse may be able to more effectively care for patients on her ward, or perhaps better care for a higher population of patients more effectively without a second nurse. Information in real time is extremely valuable to any caregiver: If the coming advancements allow a senior to remain at home longer so much the better!
Additional Aging in Place information for seniors can also be found at:
B. ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?
"Getting older isn't for sissies." That's what we hear from seniors who are in the know. The all- important senses begin to weaken. Sight and hearing are often the first to go. Science, of course, has made fantastic strides in the treatment of cataracts, which affect almost all seniors, and the reversal of its effects. Laser eye surgery has eliminated the need for glasses for many.
But the ears... we're still a little behind in technological advances for the hard of hearing. Certainly, today's exterior hearing aids are an improvement in orders of magnitude over early models. The current selection of hearing-aid miniatures on the market is futuristic in comparison. The various types of hearing aids available today are described by their physical attributes:
The main reasons people who own a hearing aid fail to wear it are the sound quality and comfort. It just doesn't sound normal to many people, and in some cases patients feel they hear well without the amplifying devices. Feedback, tiny batteries, limited isolation of background noise from the foreground audio source you wish to hear and focus on, are hurdles that have yet to be overcome. An ill-fitting plastic hearing aid can be painful, but there really wasn't much alternative choice beyond asking everyone to repeat themselves "louder, please."
Until now! Implanted hearing aids are now on the market, and the FDA is approving more of them all the time.
Called "Baha," these new devices are not cochlear implants. Cochlear implants also require a surgical procedure, but they stimulate functioning auditory nerves inside the cochlea. The Baha vibrates the bone directly. They are more expensive and require minor surgery to implant them (which means that they may be covered by Medicare).
However, they can last three to four times the life of a regular hearing aid, and of course they function much better, with a higher quality of sound. However, they are not for everyone. Often they are employed when only one ear is damaged, when the patient suffers from chronic ear infections, or congenital atresia (narrowing or closing of the ear canal). A titanium screw is surgically implanted behind the ear. Once healed, the bone bonds, and the patient can wear the outer sound processor discreetly behind the ear. The process by which it functions is known as "direct bone conduction."
The "Vibrant Soundbridge" is new type of implanted device. Made of two parts, an external audio processor and an internal floating mass transducer, the audio quality is much clearer and represents a leap forward in technology. It is not considered a "hearing aid," which amplifies sound. The audio processor picks up the sound and transmits it across the skin to the implanted transducer. The transducer vibrates the tiny bones in the ear (the ossicular chain) and thus, the patient hears. Again, these devices are not for everyone. A visit to your physician, and a likely referral to a specialist will be your first steps to discover if the new technology is appropriate for you or a loved one. But it is a major leap forward in audio quality for those with hearing loss.
Be sure and check with your physician. If you've been storing your hearing
aids in your nightstand instead of in your ear canals you should check
with your hearing specialist, regardless!
Additional and expanded health information for seniors can also be found
C. WHERE MEN AND WOMEN DIFFER IN FOLLOWING THE NEWS
A look at the public's news interests over the past year shows continuing differences between women and men in the types of news stories that they follow very closely. Women consistently express more interest than men in stories about weather, health and safety, natural disasters and tabloid news. Men are more interested than women in stories about international affairs, Washington news and sports. See Chart 1, Stories of Greater Interest to Women.
At the same time, men and women often express comparable levels of interest in the top news stories of the day. For example, the presidential campaign has attracted only modestly greater interest among men than among women. In five weekly news interest surveys in 2008, 37% of men and 32% of women say they have followed campaign news very closely.
Yet there are substantial gender differences in news about several subjects. Weather news was of particular interest to women: in 2007, 37% of women, on average, followed weather-related stories very closely compared with 29% of men. The largest gender difference in interest in any news story last year was for the tornadoes and violent storms that hit the South and Midwest in March. Four in ten women followed this story very closely compared with only 25% of men. Floods in the Midwest in August also attracted a much larger female audience 32% of women compared with 20% of men followed this story very closely.
Women also expressed a particular interest in health and safety issues this past year. One of the biggest gaps was on news about a drug-resistant staph infection. Driven largely by interest among women, news of the staph infection was the public's most closely followed story the week of Oct. 14. More than three in ten women (31%) followed this story very closely, compared with 21% of men.
For several of the major health and safety stories of 2007, news coverage lagged behind public interest. In the case of the drug resistant staph infection, the national news media devoted 3% of its overall coverage to this story, making it the ninth most heavily covered story of the week, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Two product recall stories also received broad interest from women in spite of limited media coverage: the recall of contaminated pet food in May and the recall of Chinese-made toys in November.
In addition to weather and safety stories, women were more interested than men in high-profile crime stories and tabloid news. When two kidnapped boys were found safe in Missouri in January 2007, 30% of women followed the story very closely, compared with 16% of men. And women consistently followed the biggest tabloid story of the year the death of Anna Nicole Smith more closely than did men. In mid-February, women were more than twice as likely to list Smith's death as their most closely followed story (22% vs. 10%). Younger women were especially hooked on the story 29% of women under age 50 listed this as their top story.
Men Dominate Sports Audience
The gender gap in interest for individual news stories over the past year generally reflects broad differences in the news topics that men and women follow. Pew's 2006 news consumption survey showed that men particularly dominate the audience for sports news, comprising 74% of this audience. In addition, the audiences for news about science and technology, business and finance, and international developments all are more than 60% male.*
By contrast, women make up more than 60% of the audience for news about religion, health and entertainment, and nearly as great a proportion of the audience for local or community news (58%). They also are disproportionately represented among those who closely follow news about culture and the arts. See Chart 2, Gender Profile of News Audience
The review of public interest in news stories is consistent with these patterns, though there are important exceptions. For example, of the 15 stories last year with the largest gender gap in favor of men, nearly half were stories dealing with international affairs. When tensions flared between the U.S. and Iran in February, 40% of men followed the story very closely compared with 27% of women. Similarly, men paid closer attention to political instability in Pakistan.
Yet there were no gender differences in interest about the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto earlier this year; 33% of men and 32% of women followed news about this story very closely. Bhutto's murder attracted a relatively high level of public interest for an international news story it was the second most closely followed story during the week of Dec. 30, 2007.
Several stories dealing with policy issues and the inner workings of Washington attracted more interest from men than women. While 28% of men paid very close attention to the Supreme Court's ruling on the role of race in public school placement, only 18% of women followed this story very closely. Men also paid closer attention to the Justice Department scandal involving the firing of eight U.S. attorneys (24% of men vs. 15% of women were following this story very closely in March).
News Sources and the Gender Gap
Not only do women and men follow different types of news stories, they go to different places for their news. According to the 2006 news consumption survey, women are more likely than men to regularly watch network morning shows 28% of women and 17% of men regularly watch the Today Show, Good Morning America or the Early Show. Women are also more likely than men to watch the nightly network news (31% vs. 25% watch regularly) and network TV news magazines such as 60 Minutes and Dateline (25% vs. 21% regularly). See Chart 3, Network News Appeals More to Woman
Men, on the other hand, are more likely than women to get their news from the radio either radio news or talk radio. Men also use online news sources more often than do women. And more men than women read the newspaper regularly
Source: PEW RESEARCH CENTER FOR THE PEOPLE & THE
PRESS FEB. 6, 2008
Additional education information for seniors can also be found at:
D. DID YOU KNOW...?
Free Program Provides Access to Affordable Housing for Disabled
Several installations have also aided families in which at least one child is disabled.
"I have 11 steps going from the street to my house and I am on the last of my artificial knees," says Robnette Johnson, the ecstatic recipient of the 100th residential wheelchair ramp from ElderHomes. Ms. Johnson is actually on her second set of artificial knees, which were last replaced 10 years ago. This installation will enable her to negotiate steps to her own home with relative ease and enable her to stay there indefinitely. "Im very glad because it will be a significant time before I land in a wheelchair and I didnt want to leave my home," says Ms. Johnson, who was recommended to ElderHomes by her therapist.
"With the shortage of affordable housing in the region, were on a full-scale rescue mission to help the thousands of low income, elderly and disabled in our community to remain in their homes and age in place," says Lyn Boyer Haines, CEO of ElderHomes. "Imagine, what started as a community-based initiative by a small group of volunteers in 1998 has turned into a significant and ongoing benefit to those who need these accessibility services."
It is a complex, life-altering hurdle when the disabled or elderly suddenly find themselves challenged to survive in their own homes, where they have lived, loved and thrived problem-free for many years; and for people with low income, this proposition becomes nearly impossible because of the prohibitive costs of installing such devices. ElderHomes specializes in servicing this low-income gap, which is but one facet of a social problem that continues to grow in our community and will only get worse as the years progress.
For more information on "Aging in Place" see: http://www.seniorresource.com/ageinpl.htm
For more information on "ElderHomes" and "Lyn Boyer Haines," see http://www.elderhomes.org
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E. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
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F. SPECIAL THINGS THIS MONTH
Celebrate Diversity Month
Learn more about ways to do even more at http://www.celebratediversitymonth.org
National Humor Month
The idea of laughing and the use of humor as a tool to lift ailing spirits are growing. There are numerous articles on the Web that indicate that the power of laughter has curative ability to relieve debilitating stress and burnout. You might also want to check out Norman Cousins famous book, "Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient," in which he describes and credits his recovery from a severe and potentially crippling disease by (in large part) watching Marx Brother movies. This book is also available as an audiocassette and audio download.
for over 1000 jokes to keep you busy this month.
Jazz Appreciation Month
A month of focus is deserved because of the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz and its importance as an American cultural heritage. In addition, the dedicated month is intended to stimulate the current jazz scene and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and support institutional jazz programs. To learn more visit http://www.smithsonianjazz.org/
Music for Seniors is available at: http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm
G. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
Seniorresource.com Website Enhancements
Aging in Place
Our second enhancement is in the education area. In your earlier years did you have a special interest area in which you considered energizing your brain cells but didnt have the time? Well, your chance is now. Many colleges and universities offer reduced or no-tuition programs for seniors. Seniorresource.com has been in an ongoing search for free and low-cost educational opportunities for senior citizens and has found numerous opportunities to report. The report has been organized by state, so finding a location near you is easy.
Our report can be found at http://www.seniorresource.com/senioreducation.htm
Give it a visit and find a place to exercise your brain. We would be pleased to add other schools if you let us know about them. Send us an email at the address at the bottom of the report. Please provide the full school name and their seniors section Web address (URL).
Music on the Internet
For Oldies but Goodies Music visit http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm#music
Additional health-related information for seniors can also be found at:
H. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
Catskill Jokes of Old Vaudeville Days
"I was just in London. Theres a six-hour time difference.
I'm still confused. --
"The doctor gave a man six months to live. --
"The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, 'Mrs. Cohen, your check came
"Doctor: 'You'll live to be 60!'
"A doctor has a stethoscope up to a man's chest. The man asks, 'Doc,
how do I stand?'
Some Things to Ponder
Visit 1000's of jokes of interest to people who have lived a long and rich life.
"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:
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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).
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