Just when you start to wonder how our system will to be able to handle the overwhelming needs of an aging population, you discover AgeLab: "The MIT AgeLab was created in 1999 to invent new ideas and creatively translate technologies into practical solutions that improve people’s health and enable them to “do things” throughout the lifespan." This should be of interest to seniors everywhere.
Unfortunately, seniors can be really stubborn when it comes to learning new things and no where is that more apparent than with the latest technology has to offer. My client recently provided me with a great example of seniors vs. technology when she related a story about her mother, a bright, energetic 87 year old who absolutely refused to learn how to use the Kindle my client purchased. She remembers her mother in her seventies programming her VCR to do everything but stand at attention so her refusal to use the Kindle was especially frustrating to her as one of her mother's favorite pastimes is reading.
Joseph Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, predicts that technology will help seniors stay at home and manage their frailties far longer than they can today, when the average age of an individual entering an assisted living facility is age 83. So how can you help someone overcome an unwillingness to try new technology? Cyber-Seniors, an organization that links cyber-savvy teens with seniors might be one way. This community based initiative was the subject of a well-received documentary last spring.
Success will likely best be achieved by using smart technology that does not count on the senior to program and operate it. Here are just a few examples of programs and applications I was able to find that are already on the market:
- The 'Apple' smartwatch or an app by Jawbone known as 'UP' are being used to monitor important health information such as sleep patterns, heart rate, body temperature, and even hydration levels.
- Programs such as “Living Well @Home” and “Lively” use sensors to keep track of changes in daily behavior that might indicate a health concern or an impending disease.
- The program ‘AlzhUp’ offers an opportunity for improved quality of life to people with Alzheimer’s Disease by using the person actual memories to assist them with proven therapies. Use of these therapies has actually slowed cognitive decline in some patients and the program allows loved ones and caregivers the chance to "play along".
- ‘Home for Life’ provides innovative home assessment software that enables therapists and product/service providers to reach homeowners with the ideal solutions for remaining in their home.
- ‘MediSafe’ allows medical professionals and caregivers to program personalized medication reminder notifications- specific to each type of medication.
In the meantime, society will continue to count on organizations such as AgeLab "to coordinate the goods and services available from private businesses to assist with organizations such as AgeLab to coordinate improvements for the quality of life for older people".
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.
Reference: Columbia Dispatch (January 18, 2015) “New Gadgets and Programs Allow Older American to Live at Home Safely” by Encarnacion Pyle and the website: Agelab