National Aging Month: How to support high quality lives for people living longer.

May celebrates National Aging Month. It is a great time to look at all of the advances made within the healthcare system. Life expectancy has increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, which has been the fastest increase since the 1960s (World Health Organization, 2016).

With this amazing stride of living nine, ten or more decades, we now have a new twenty-first century problem. How do we support high quality lives for people living this long?

Stanford Center on Longevity’s New Map of Life initiative is researching and creating new models for redesigning how the healthcare system works, creating new policies for care, housing, and financial security. Because the lifespan is increasing, our current policies and systems are quickly becoming outdated. A new life course is needed that encompasses multiple stages of ‘older age’ as well as the different types of services needed. If you would like to learn more about the New Life Map being created by Stanford Center on Longevity, check it out here: http://longevity.stanford.edu/a-new-map-of-life/.

Technology

From this advanced research, technology has been identified as one of the essential ways to better enhance the quality of life for clients and families. It is important for Life Care Managers to become the early adopters of new technology that emerges.

“The LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) is heading the charge to expedite the development, evaluation, and adoption of emerging technologies that improve the aging experience.” CAST’s video, “Imagine – the Future of Aging” provides a snapshot into developing practical and affordable technologies. Watch it here: http://www.leadingage.org/Imagine-the-Future-of-Aging.aspx.

Some healthcare professionals have been worried about incorporating more technology into care management for the senior community because they assume they will not be able to adapt to it. But according to Pew Research Center, 42% of Americans age 50-64 use the Internet; 47% of them (65 and older) use social media (https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/) . . Studies show that Boomers place nearly as much value on the information they obtain online as they do their own doctors. Boomers are increasingly heading to the Internet for information and it’s a great way to connect them to their healthcare and social needs.

Technology can also be used for entertainment and fitness. The opportunities are endless to incorporate into seniors lives. Once Life Care Managers assist with setting up different technologies and help their clients to use them, their quality of life can be vastly improved.

Here are some options for incorporating technology to enhance fitness:
Fitness trackers are a great option for seniors. They can use this to track their steps, calories burned, stairs climbed or the quality of sleep users get every night. By analyzing that data, care managers are able to help them to make adjustments to their lifestyle to avoid challenges such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes. Below is an article that suggests the best fitness trackers for seniors: https://bestforseniors.online/best-fitness-trackers-for-seniors/

Smart Phone Apps

  • Lumosity (iOS, GooglePlay) – This app provides brain games by offering daily challenges, workout modes to cultivate stronger critical thinking, memory, and problem-solving skills.
  • Map My Walk (iOS, GooglePlay) – This app helps seniors increase or maintain their activity level. It provides GPS in the phone app to map out walking routes, records workout details and progress history (duration, distance, speed, elevation, etc.), and tracks the number of calories burned.
  • Silver Sneakers – Silver Sneakers is a program designed specifically for adults over 65 years old and has over 16,000+ participating locations around the country, offers 70+ different fitness classes, and hosts a network of on-demand videos – plus, membership is included with many Medicare plans! If going to the gym isn’t an option for your client, members are able to use the app to connect with other seniors and do at-home, easy-to-follow fitness and stretching videos focused on either strength, walking, or meditation.
  • Grow Young Fitness – If you have a client who prefers to use their desktop computer or laptop, they can find great fitness videos specific for seniors on YouTube. Grow Young Fitness is a specific fitness channel that focuses on increasing flexibility, balance, and strength for seniors. His workouts can be done in around 15 minutes or less, or can be coupled together for a longer routine!
  • Disability Cocoon – Disability Cocoon acts as a hub for technology that enables person centered outcomes for people with all levels of ability.
  • GrandPad – Through the free GrandPad companion app and web portal, loved ones can connect to GrandPad’s private family network via iPhone, Android phone, iPad, or desktop computer. Family members can even upload photos and adjust settings for the GrandPad user.
  • Staying Educated

    In addition to implementing technologies that exist, it’s essential that Life Care Managers continue educating themselves on new discoveries, technological advances, behavioral practices and join the conversation among leading experts in an effort to optimize quality of life for seniors.

    Stanford Center on Longevity has a great pod-cast that highlights new research from leading experts and academia on various topics of longevity, quality care and healthcare policy. You can listen to the podcast episodes here: http://longevity.stanford.edu/century-lives-podcast/

    Disrupt is a podcast that provides news and information on the senior-in home care industry. It highlights individuals and organizations that are making a difference within the healthcare industry. It’s a great way to learn best-practices from others as well as identify new organizations to collaborate with to enhance quality senior care. Check out the podcast here: https://player.fm/series/disrupt-1182019

    Senior Care Conversations provides stories about meeting the challenges of the aging population. They speak with industry leaders as well as caregivers. Many episodes are excellent for family members to listen to as a learning tool on different topics they may be facing with their loved one. Listen to the podcast here: https://player.fm/series/senior-care-conversations
    Comment below in the thread and let us know what resources you use to promote high quality care!

    Sources

    Bennett, Simeon. (2016). Life expectancy increased by 5 years since 2000, but health inequalities persist. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/19-05-2016-life-expectancy-increased-by-5-years-since-2000-but-health-inequalities-persist

    Pew Research Center. (2017). Technology Use Among Seniors. Retrieved from: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/

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Shanna Huber

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