Leave it to Dr. Bill Thomas to write a new book, in this case Second Wind, and then use the book tour, not just to publicize its release by joining radio personalities and attending book signings, but instead to educate in a big way. Dr. Bill, some of his Eden Alternative and Green House Project colleagues, and other friends have undertaken a nationwide educational SecondWind Tour — with stops in 25 cities between the beginning of March and the end of May 2014. He’s using the book and the tour to promote his philosophy — and his beliefs — about aging.
Dr. Thomas’s philosophy is powerful, which is good because he is proclaiming and evangelizing to a large and very powerful demographic — the boomers — a generation that is beginning to age in earnest. A goodly number of us don’t quite know what to think about aging or how to get on with it. Of course we know we are going to age but are definitely uncertain about next steps. Participants at one of Dr. Thomas’s SecondWind Tour events — my husband and I attended the Washington, DC festivities — see and hear quite a bit about aging, gaining some insight, ideas, and tools that stimulate even more thinking. Did I mention that Dr. Bill is a great storyteller?
Adult children who want to help their aging parents learn to use more technology may want to read the April 2014 Pew Internet organization report, Older Adults and Technology Use.
This fascinating document, freely available online, describes various groups of technology-using seniors and explains how they use or do not use computers and devices. It also offers some reasons why older seniors, especially, slow down in their use of computers and digital devices as they age.
What’s interesting to me is that less of a digital divide exists between seniors and the rest of the younger adult population, and more of a digital divide exists between higher and lower-income seniors. Also the researchers found that after age 75 technology use tends to drop off significantly for many elders.
Each time a friend or acquaintance experiences an illness or death in the family, I go through the same thought process. When should I call? What should I offer? Will I intrude?
What it really comes down to is this: I should stop dithering around and just do something — just about anything, really — to demonstrate that I am thinking about my friends. It all comes down to being present for the people who need to know that their friends care.
In a thoughtful January op-ed piece New York Times columnist, David Brooks, wrote about The Art of Presence. All of us, he explains, need to develop the ability to understand how and when and be near people who need our assistance and support, especially during times of great stress or loss. Many of us of are not that adept at responding appropriately when people need our help.
“There are no uniformly right responses,” Brooks writes. He also describes how blogger Catherine Woodiwiss shares her family’s experience with trauma and offers what Brooks calls collective wisdom — how to help others in need and the importance of being present (and maybe it’s just being around) when things go wrong in people’s lives.
In June 2013 I listened to a PBS News Hour segment about valley fever. A fungus, Coccidioides (often called simply “cocci”) lives in soil in the southwestern United States as well as in Central and South America, and it causes valley fever. In the U.S the cases occur primarily in California and Arizona deserts and parts of several other states.
When the news story finished up, I asked my husband a question. “What is the incidence of Valley Fever? Just how many cases are there this year?”
“Aha,” he said. “Like lots of other people you are confusing incidence and prevalence.” So what is the difference between these two epidemiological concepts?
The question that I was asking — how many cases of Valley Fever had occurred in total — was not about the incidence of the disease but the about prevalence. According to the authoritative A Dictionary of Epidemiology, prevalence is the number of instances (cases) of a disease over a given time in a population. So my inquiry was actually a prevalence question — because I was wondering how many cases (of valley fever) there were in a given population (in the deserts/states where the cases were occurring) at a time (when I just finished listening to the program).
I’ve always thought of myself as a cup-half-full person. Just about any time that something hard or challenging occurs, I’m out there trying to help solve the problem or at least make things better. My continuing retinal detachments (a.k.a. proliferative vitreoretinopathy or PVR) together with oil that may never be removed from my eye, have challenged me.
My new glasses!
Following the fifth surgery in early December 2013 I’ve continued to feel frustrated, afraid, and helpless, not all at once, of course, but at various time and especially when double vision hampers my piano playing and writing activities.
During the winter months I began to feel a bit better. I made an appointment with a low vision specialist, an optometrist with advanced training in the treatment for people with sight limitations. Almost every eye clinic at a hospital or medical center has a low vision section. On the day in early February when I visited the specialist I entered the office feeling terribly sorry for myself, and within the hour I emerged feeling more positive and hopeful. Something wonderful happened at that appointment.
Take a look at an article, George Mason Professor Champions Shoes with GPS Tracking, that describes how Professor Andrew Carledeveloped the idea of using GPS chips in the shoes of older adults who tend to wander because of brain diseases. According to the Washington Post report Professor Carle contacted a shoe company that produces GPS children’s shoes and proposed using the same technology in shoes for elders who have Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Visit a company that sells GPS echoes.
The February 25, 2014 article, by Tom Jackman, describes how the shoes, which cost around $299, can help families, caregivers, and police locate an older adult who has wandered away from home or is lost. The newest technology puts the GPS device into the insole of a shoe, allowing it to work in different pairs of shoes.
To be used successfully by an individual with dementia, a family needs to arrange for a cell phone plan and a way to charge the GPS device each day. The cost of the shoe combined with these extra expenses puts the shoes out of reach of many family budgets. However, the advantages of the device combined with technical advances and the sheer number of patients who will suffer from brain diseases in the coming years may make this technology more affordable to greater numbers of people.