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.
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.
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.
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.
An article in Fiscal Times, How Startups Art Profiting from Aging Boomers, describes how boomers and individuals in other age groups are creating new businesses and products that respond to the needs of people who are aging. Adult children may want to become acquainted with this business trend because products may pop up that are specially useful in the lives of elder parents. One product that I am considering for my family is CareZone (see right-hand illustration).
The April 4, 2013 piece, by Julie Halpert, points out that most boomers have a fair amount of money to spend on supportive devices if and when they are required. Moreover, it turns out that many of the people who are setting up aging-related businesses are themselves boomers.
I hope these businesses figure out a way to produce products that look like they are a part of “normal,” routine life for everyone, even if they are developed for elders. About a year ago I read about an especially interesting fact for product developers to keep in mind on Laurie Orlov’s Aging in Place Technology Watch. Orlov points out that people who are aging do not want to use products that look like they are for old people. Instead, they want products that look like anyone can use them but also have features that support a person as he or she ages. Read more »
Those of us who have lived with dementia or Alzheimer’s in our families know about the struggle. But rarely does an opportunity come along to read about what’s happening to memory from the perspective of the person who is ill and gradually becoming sicker.
Facing a Fading Future: Retired Doctor Chronicles His Struggles With Alzheimer’s appeared in the March 31, 2013 Washington Post, and it offers the perspective of the patient who also happens to be a trained physician.
Take some time to read this compelling article, by Theresa Vargas, about Dr. David Hilfiker who has Alzheimer’s and is blogging about it. It’s heartbreaking and amazing at the same time, and providing many of us with the first real look at the disease, chronicled from a patient’s point of view.
A Few Quotes from the Article Read more »
Over and over the media refer to boomers as a health conscious generation, and boomers often assume that their generation is healthier than their parents’ generation.
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Health Examination Survey (NHANES – Check out this informational video), researchers compared data from 1988-1994 for our parents’ generation and data from 2007-2010 for the boomers. This means that they were examining health data from similar age groups. The results are dramatic.
Some of the Findings
- In the older generation, 32% the those surveyed reported excellent health, while only 13.2% of boomers reported excellent health.
- Obesity was more common in the boomer generation.
- Regular exercise was less frequent in boomers’ lives.
- Hypertension was more common in boomers with 43% reporting the condition, but only 36% of their parents reported hypertension at the same age. Read more »
At work do you ever feel especially old when teams or committees neglect to include veteran employees? Do you occasionally see younger colleagues roll their eyes or flaunt up-to-the-minute technology skills when an older colleague makes a suggestion or comment? Does this situation make you think defensively, sometimes making jokes about your senior moments or aging? We’ve all been there!
I’ve noticed that when a few people in their late fifties get together and talk about their jobs, it is not uncommon for them to mention how workplace environments, while building leadership skills in younger workers, forget emphasize how older employees continue to have much to share.
Two broad reasons that a variety of age groups work together well and produce better results are:
- Every generation has its blind spots so the different ages and perspective help to avoid problems and compensate for them.
- Each generation can shine based on individuals’ experience.