About Half of All Americans Over 65 Have a Fall — Each Year

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Click to look at the CDC’s complete pamphlet.

I’ve just finished reading a Washington Post article, Strategies for Preventing Falls, Which Are Especially Risky for Older People, appearing in the online edition on March 16, 2015, It reviews the risks, examines the facts about falling, describes how to check an individual’s steadiness, and makes suggestions about the various ways a person can improve balance.

The article describes a number of tests that can evaluate whether a person is prone to falling. An aging parent should perform them with a physician or physical therapist, who can go through the series of steps and safely evaluate whether or not a person is likely to fall. Physically fit adult children can probably experiment —  carefully — at home with some of these tests. The Washington Post article explains them in detail, so I’ve just listed the tests below, and I’ve also linked several of the tests to videos.                        Continue reading

Better Hospital Gowns? All Ages Will Be Thrilled!

Click on this image to check out images of the well-designed new gowns with thanks to the Henry Ford Health System.

Click on this image to check out images of the well-designed new gowns. With thanks to the Henry Ford Health System.

If you are like my parents, me, or people of almost any age, you HATE hospital gowns.

Sometimes putting on or wearing the gowns is worse than the test or the hospital visit. If you have ever helped an aging parent or other elder get in and out of bed with one of those gowns — or take a walk in a hospital corridor —  you know how they keep opening up so a patient feels exposed. Currently these gowns are designed to make it easy and simple to examine a person, but not to make a person feel comfortable.

Well now there’s reason to hope that this situation may be improved.

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Watching Ourselves Age With the Brown Sisters

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Those of us with elder parents spend a lot of time thinking about age and change. As adult children, we observe the aging of our parents, but not infrequently we wonder aloud how they got so old. At the same time we don’t always notice how we, too, are growing older.

In October 2014 the New York Times Magazine published a feature by Susan Minot, Forty Portraits in Forty Years, that described the remarkable photographs of the Brown sisters. The photos, shot with the four women in the same order and with somewhat similar poses over 40 years, demonstrate with singular clarity how we grow older. Photographer Nicholas Nixon took the pictures, which were recently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.                       Continue reading

Help Elders Understand More: A History of the Way the Web Works

After breakfast three seniors work on three different digital devices.

After breakfast three seniors work on three different digital devices.

My parents and other elders often ask me questions about the Web — the way it works, how it really got started, how it’s evolved, and how why it changes so much.

I have the answers to many of these questions and willingly take the time to explain, but often wish I could hand the questioners something to read. Each of my  answers teaches an individual one time. By providing an article or other resource that can be consulted again and again and is eminently readable, I offer a person the opportunity to learn or relearn over and over.

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Fitness Age vs. Chronological Age

Adult children should check out the October 2013 New York Times Well Blog article, What’s Your Fitness Age? The piece by Gretchen Reynolds shares information about the concept of fitness age — it can differ significantly from an individual’s chronological age — and how researchers calculate the measurement for individuals.

Reynolds points out in the article that, while we cannot change our chronological age, we can do things that improve our fitness age. The research took place at a Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim with results published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (abstract), a journal published by the American College of Sports Medicine.      Continue reading

Will Robots Take Care of Us When We’re Old?

Personal robots groupTake a few minutes to read a May 2014 Chicago Tribune article, An Army of Robots May Soon be Deployed to Care for the Elderly. This piece, written by Reuters columnist Mark Miller, explores how robots may be able to perform certain tasks to support elders who can’t aways do those tasks for themselves. Innovating with robots is a much-discussed idea in the technology and caregiving communities because so many boomers are aging into their senior and eventually elder years when they will require extra support.

How much of a role will robots play? The May 2014 Tribune article posits that they may play a significant one, if only because the need for caregiving jobs will rise steeply while the people to fill those jobs will rise negligibly. Author Mark Miller also quotes Cynthia Breaseal, who heads the Personal Robots Group at the MIT media lab, pointing out that many people appear to form emotional attachments with social robots. To see some of the other robots that the group is developing, check out the the MIT lab by clicking on the image above.                       Continue reading