One of our University of Chicago alumni publications — a pamphlet aimed toward older boomer alums — featured an interesting article, A Geriatrician’s Guide to Healthy Aging.
Penned by William Dale, M.D., Ph.D., the University of Chicago Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, the short piece offers general aging advice in four categories:
- Staying active
- Maintaining relationships
- Keeping our personal health records
- Finding a doctor who is comfortable treating older patients
Dr. Dale is also the author of My Father’s Life and Death from Cancer, a description of his experiences during the last months of his father’s life. This article appeared in a 2011 edition of Medicine on the Midway, another Chicago alumni publication.
Adult children should be sure that their parents understand the clever strategies that telephone scammers use as they encourage elders to part with credit card information. Over the past several days I’ve received two phone calls on my home landline, aiming to convince me that I ordered a personal safety device and that it was ready for delivery. The caller laughed when I said I did not make the order, pointing out that I probably forgot.
The best line in the conversation — “Oh, from time-to-time we all forget that we ordered something.”
Taking advantage of memory issues is a new twist, for me anyway. The scammer tries to convince people — in this case me — that they purchased a device for safety reasons, but … somehow I must have forgotten about it. I assume a fair number of people do not want to admit that they forget things and thereby make themselves easy marks for a caller who takes advantage of the anxiety about memory lapses.
I wrote a post about a similar phone scam, Call About Personal Safety Devices, in January 2013.
What is significant about my most recent calls was how refined the pitch has become. The caller, a real person, asked me when I wanted my personal safety device delivered. I played along, acting like I did not remember making the order, and worked hard to sound doubtful. The scammer zeroed in, friendly but with laser-like precision, pointing out that I must have forgotten and that the personal safety device was ready to deliver AS SOON AS I PAID WITH MY CREDIT CARD.
Every time I expressed doubt, he had another warm and friendly explanation. When we finally parted ways, I thought I was finished with him but he called back today, reminding me of our conversation and asking me if I remembered the order that I had made.
Forewarned is forearmed.
I like this post, Technology Moving Too Fast for a Girl Born in 1950, over at the Life in My Sixties blog. The author aptly captures many of the feelings and expectations about the fast-paced, always-changing world of technology. Our feelings magnify when our adult children casually take digital life for granted and our elder parents benefit from many new gadgets and digital services.
Lots of people are happy just keeping the old familiar gadgets that we know and love — for as long as possible. Others, myself included, thrill to new things, although sometimes we have difficulty making decisions because we can choose from so many new devices and opportunities. For us the issue is not what things we want, but more how much money we have to spend and time we have to learn. Did I mention it’s also about learning?
According to a wonderful article, Digital Natives-Digital Immigrants, written by Marc Prensky way back in 2001, we boomers are digital immigrants, living in a world that is extraordinarily different from the one we were born into. Even though it’s 12 years old, the article identifies a situation that we all recognize as it contrasts the lives of younger people who have lived with technology throughout their entire lives (digital natives) with their parents and grandparents who have adopted technology along the way (but who remember the non-technological “olden days.”)
Of course, those of us who are a part of the digital immigrant generation span a wide continuum of tech skill.
In light of my most recent post (April 23, 2013) about the effect of music during my parents’ Bible study sessions, I am reposting this blog post describing an article about music, eurhythmics, and elders.
How interesting to read about the research Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance, and Fall Risk in Elderly People (abstract), an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The article is not freely available from the medical journal, so to read it you will need to speak with a librarian or go to a hospital library.
The article points out that most seniors’ falls occur when people are performing concurrent tasks and that “each year more than a third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall.” The Swiss medical researchers wondered whether participation in a music-based program involving concurrent tasks of movement and music might have a positive effect on the factors that can cause a fall — gait and balance — thereby reducing the frequency of falls.
The music activity they chose for their research is eurhythmics, a program of music education that combines music and movement, developed by composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva in the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, at least not from my perspective as a college music major and life-long very amateur musician, people who participated in six months of Dalcroze eurhythmics reduced both the rate and the risk of falling by the end of the program compared to a control group that did not take the class but carried on with life as usual. When the control group subsequently took the class for six months, the researchers found the same results.
My father, a retired minister, and my mother are leading a short Bible study once a week at Woodland Park, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community’s (VMRC), newly opened Green House Homes. The weekly activity is engaging and fun for mom and dad, and they enjoy sharing scripture as well as music with the group members. Most of the participants who choose to attend are physically fragile and some also have significant memory loss.
Each Thursday my parents bring a lesson, as much as possible, from the weekly lectionary – the three-year cycle of Bible readings that corresponds with the events of the Christian church liturgical year. Many ministers base their Sunday sermons on these readings, and many churches schedule their Bible study groups to help members learn more about the lectionary passages prior to the Sunday service when the passages are read during worship.
At the Woodland Park Bible study sessions my parents just about always read a Psalm. Dad chooses the next reading based on how well-known and familiar it is, because the participants are increasingly engaged when they recognize the story, and some may even share a thought or two after hearing the passage read aloud. With this group familiarity with a passage is more important than any one lectionary passage.
Music and hymn singing become more central each time my parents lead a session, since just about every member of the group seems to automatically remember words to many of the old-time favorite hymns. Read more »
The Over 65 Blog is a part of The Hastings Center, an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit bioethics research institute that focuses on ethical issues in the areas of health, medicine, and the environment. The Center concentrates on and produces research about making decisions at the end of life, public health priorities, and the role of emerging technologies when it comes to medical care and aging.
The Over 65 Blog examines issues and problems that affect members of the over-65 generation, and I’ve started to follow it after learning about it on Facebook from Jane Gross, who is on the organization’s board.
Those of us who are adult children and also approaching retirement are watching the Medicare debate with a combination of anxiety, frustration, and resignation. A recent post on the over 65 Blog, The Medicare Showdown, by Daniel Callahan, offers some sobering thoughts about what it may take for Medicare to continue to operate effectively.
- Quite apart from the long-term deficit crisis, Medicare is in deep trouble: unsustainable in the long run and a burden already. Much higher taxes, especially for the rich but even for the middle class, will be necessary to soften the impact of benefit cuts.
- The president’s proposal contains a gradual increase of benefits after age 76 to offset inadequate retirement income, a far-sighted and welcome idea.
Below is a three-paragraph excerpt from an April 12, 2013 report by Adam Moll, a compelling look at the aging prison population and the increasing amounts of geriatric medical care that must be provided to inmates.
Dementia is not a condition associated with incarceration, yet a demographic shift is challenging the very nature of prisons. In England and Wales, male offenders aged 50 or above are the fastest growing group in prison, rising by 74% in the past decade to close to 10,000, 11% of the total prison population. The over-60s population has increased eight-fold since 1990.
This transformation, primarily driven by decades of punitive sentencing policy from politicians falling over each other to appear “tough on crime”, is exacerbated by an accelerated ageing process experienced by many offenders, a combination of the health risks associated with criminal lifestyles and the psychological strains of prison life.
Most Interesting Quote
The United States, where legislation has been particularly draconian, is facing the genuine prospect of its prisons becoming the biggest single providers of geriatric care in the next thirty years.
From a posting on Facebook by A Bittersweet Season author, Jane Gross. A bit scary, I think.
Some 29 states currently have laws making adult children responsible for their parents if their parents can’t afford to take care of themselves. These “filial responsibility” laws have rarely been enforced, but six years ago when federal rules made it more difficult to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage, some elder law attorneys predicted that nursing homes would start using the laws as a way to get care paid for.