Quote of the Day

It is my hope that more and more technology will be targeted at enhancing seniors’ connectivity, entertainment options and personal health options. Based on my experiences with the seniors I work with every day, there will continue to be a great demand for it.


Elizabeth Ann Fetner, interim executive director at Newcastle Place,

from an op-ed in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel on “Senior  living in the age of Technology.”

A Pause for Perspective

It’s interesting to consider what people think will affect them personally in light of the winner of the 2014 Longitude Prize. Conceived to be a 21st century version of the competition to design a device that helped ships navigate safely, today’s version of the prize put six topics up to public vote in Britain for £10 million in funding, approximately 17 million in US dollars.

The nominees, selected by a professional committee, were: prevent resistance to Antibiotics; help people with Dementia live independently for longer; lower the environmental impact of Flight; eliminate Food scarcity; restore movement in those with Paralysis; ensure access to safe and clean drinking Water.

The winner, announced yesterday, was Antibiotics.

We have to examine our own bias, since we were certain Dementia would be the winner, given our awareness that much work is needed on both technological and biological fronts to prevent Dementia and to help patients and their caregivers to cope with it.

Yet we are re-assured by an email from Jason N. Doctor, Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy of the University of Southern California, that British voters chose wisely. He writes, “Although dementia is a tremendous problem, from a health policy perspective the British public has made the right decision to tackle the problem of antibiotics ahead of dementia. If we reach the point where we cannot treat infectious disease, many people will not live long enough to develop dementia. All sorts of medical advances become less useful. Surgeries, childbirth, cancer treatments and organ transplants that suppress the immune system, pneumonia, implantable devices in the hip and knee and kidney dialysis all will have a much higher rate of death due to bacterial infection. For these reasons, it makes sense to tackle antibiotic resistance first.”


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). Courtesy: Janice Haney Carr/CDC

Yeah, the voters got it right.



Social Security Gets Ahead of the Curve

The New York Times reports that the Social Security Administration, suffering from budget cuts, is closing field offices. A plan prepared by the National Academy of Public Administration suggests it’s all good: By the year 2025, everybody can just do everything online.

As much as we’d like to share their optimism, we’re a little surprised that they apparently missed last April’s PewResearch Internet Project Report on Older Adults and Technology Use.

The crucial distinction Pew made, echoing our own feelings, is that there are two different groups of “elderly” to consider. Those who are young(ish), well-educated and affluent, and those who are much older, less educated, and sadly much poorer.

The drop-offs are critical:

74% of those who are 65-69 use the Internet, but only 37% who are 80 years or older.

87% of college graduates over 65 use the Internet, but only 40% with a high school education or less.

90% over 65 with a household income of $75,000+, but only 39% with an income of 30,000 or less.

While the age usage will inevitably shift upwards, as far as income and education, the people who will need Social Security services the most are not online. It’s hard to imagine that will change much in sixteen years.

13-internet-usage-for-older-adultsClick on the image to enlarge for a detailed breakdown.

Kudos, but Double Check Your Demographics

Grambling State University, “the top producer of Computer Information Science Grads in Louisiana,” is offering a four-day  “Strengthening Technology Skills” event to help older adults learn more about consumer technology devices. It will feature workshops led by students who will receive service learning credit.

This is a wonderful piece of public outreach that well honors Grambling’s distinguished history. We wish everyone involved much success.


Maybe Mom and Dad can explain who this old guy is. 

Still, by aiming the workshops at adults “50 years old and older,” they’ve stumbled on one of our pet peeves. We don’t mean to single out Grambling, which is putting on a valuable event. It seems that nearly everyone forgets that the current generation of fifty-somethings came of age with computers. Many are not only conversant with computer and Internet technologies; they helped pioneer them.

Best of luck to the students, but may we suggest there’s a paper in there for somebody on the actual relationship of 50+ adults to technology?

Ophthalmology to be a Growth Business

Research firm Markets and Markets has just released a report saying that the ophthalmology devices market, which they define as “diagnostic and monitoring devices, surgical devices, and vision care products,” in other words, everything from lasers to contact lenses, will grow to almost 35 million by 2018.

thThe breakdown: “Diagnostic, monitoring and surgical devices is expected to grow at a CAGR [Compound Annual Growth Rate] of 6.8% to reach $9,466.7 million by 2018…vision care market is anticipated to reach $33,725.3 million by 2018 at a CAGR of 2.9%.”

One of the biggest driving factors? “The global increase in the aging population.”

Yeah, we coulda guessed that.


Kick a Ball to Kick Aging?

Danish researchers are reporting a way to age better that involves only two pieces of low-tech equipment: sneakers and a soccer ball.

According to a press release from the University of Copenhagen about a test group of men aged 63 to 75 , “After only 4 months of twice-weekly 1-hour training sessions, the men achieved marked improvements in maximum oxygen uptake, muscle function and bone mineralization.”

But looking a little deeper, they split 26 men into three groups, so that means this result is based on nine people who played soccer versus nine who performed strength training and eight who were inactive.

Although we have no doubt that soccer can be good for the heart and lungs, based on that small sample set and relatively brief exposure, we are extremely skeptical about the game’s effect on the joints of older soccer players.

The answer may be, as it so often is, all things in moderation. An earlier study from Cork University Hospital in Ireland advised: “Animal and human studies have shown no evidence of increased risk of hip or knee OA [osteoarthritis] with moderate exercise and in the absence of traumatic injury, sporting activity has a protective effect…However, higher rates of hip OA occur in contact sports than in age-matched controls, with the highest rate in professional players. Soccer players with torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) are more likely to develop knee OA than those with intact ACL.”

We suggest proceeding at your own risk. In a description that would please only Tony Soprano, one former player described soccer as: “A sport where you can’t be afraid to break someone’s shin.”



We’ll stick to Yoga, thanks.