Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog
Each week, Dr. Kristen Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.
Dr. Kristen L. Mauk, PhD, DNP, RN, CRRN, GCNS-BC, GNP-BC, FAAN
The Promise of Smart Home Technology for Seniors Living at Home : Brooklin Nash
“With the IoT, we’re headed to a world where things aren’t liable to break catastrophically – or at least we’ll have a hell of a heads’ up. We’re headed to a world where our doors unlock when they sense us nearby.”
~ Scott Weiss
This quote from famous venture capitalist Scott Weiss highlights how much the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our lives. It’s not just about connected devices and smart refrigerators. It’s about making smart home technology a norm. And it can be a norm that makes independent living for seniors much better in the long run. Here are a few ways smart home technology can directly benefit seniors living at home.
#1: Smart Home Technology Makes Independent Living Safer
Caring for seniors living at home can be both rewarding and challenging. With independent living, safety is always a concern. What happens when a senior loved one needs to be left alone, for example?
By introducing smart home technology into the mix, you can help ensure that your loved one is safe while home alone. The IoT means that seniors living at home can easily access everything they need – from the medicine cabinet to the front door to a voice command for emergency services.
#2: Alerts & Real Time Monitoring Make Independent Living More Realistic
More immediately, smart home technology and IoT makes independent living both safer and more realistic. Tech innovations now allow the control, monitoring and reception of alerts from physical devices in the home. With the touch of a button on an app, you can control appliances, security systems and more.
Users can also receive alerts on heart rate, blood pressure and a host of other health factors. You can have a safe amount of control over the home while letting your senior loved one live their independent life.. With this level of innovation, there is less of a necessity of back and forth.
#3: IoT Makes Independent Living More Accessible
In the past, there were generally two options: moving seniors into assisted living homes or having them move in directly. Smart home technology empowered by IoT and a fine tuned UX means seniors can access the tools they need to remain independent. There is no need for fancy tech that is difficult to understand.
What other ways do you see the promise of smart home technology taking hold for seniors living at home?
Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.
3 Hidden Signs of Mobility Problems
While you don’t have to be overly observant to recognize that difficulty walking can spell trouble for your mobility, you may not necessarily be on the lookout for less subtle signs that can serve as red flags too. Check out this quick list of three hidden signs of mobility problems:
Are you opting to take the elevator more than normal? How about spending more time on the ground floor of your home to avoid using a staircase? Stairs can be one of the most difficult environments to traverse when mobility problems are starting to set in.
Stairs require extra leg strength, coordination, and balance. Avoiding stairs, whether conscious of it or not, could be a red flag. Same goes for exercise. If you are finding excuses to skip regular exercise because of mounting difficulties with getting around, it’s time to seek assistance.
While falls aren’t all that uncommon for seniors (one out of four seniors experiences a fall every year), frequent falling could indicate mobility difficulties. Even if you have not yet experienced an injury due to a fall, the fact that you fall even more than once a year could shed light on underlying risk factors negatively impacting your mobility including motor impairment and balance problems.
You may think that only chronic illnesses which directly affect your leg strength and coordination would impair your mobility, like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, however, you would be wrong. Conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and even heart disease can play a role in reducing your ability to quickly and safely move with ease.
Heart failure, for example, can leave your short of breath when you walk or stand for long periods of time. Diabetes can affect nerves in the legs and feet and arthritic joint inflammation can make walking painful.
Researchers have found less common risk factors that also increase an older adult’s chances of developing mobility problems. These include drinking or smoking, recent hospitalization, having symptoms of depression and experiencing memory and critical thinking problems.
Mobility difficulties do not need to be the end of the line for you. Advancements in technology, design, and engineering have revolutionized the assistive devices people with mobility problems can use. Utilizing equipment to help keep you mobile like motorized scooters, walkers, canes, and specialty wheelchairs can play an important role in both your health as well as your outlook on life.
Aging Backwards: The Science And Secret To Healthy Aging
You will typically hear the word aging having negative connotations attached to it. This stems from the fear that as you age, you will not be able to enjoy life as you once did in your youth. But many ignore how it represents the beauty of life and the nature of the universe. While we cannot, in the literal sense, reverse aging, we can ensure that our aging process is as healthy as possible to enjoy life to its fullest.
Scientists are actively researching how to slow down to prevent age-related declines in physical health. However, we cannot ignore the archive of data on how to ensure a graceful aging process. Many have already discovered ways to improve the chances of maintaining optimal health. Small changes in your routine can go a long way. For instance, adopting simple, minimal, and healthy patterns like switching your diet and incorporating supplements like kava kava powder, limiting alcohol intake, or even managing exercise routines.
Let’s look at some secrets to healthy aging backed by science.
Prioritizing physical health
Indulging in physical activity is the cornerstone of healthy aging. People who exercise regularly not only live longer but also may live better with more years of life without pain or disabilities.
A study with adults aged 40 and older found taking 8,000 steps or more per day compared to taking 4,000 steps was associated with a 51% lowers risk of death from all causes. Increase the number of daily steps by engaging in activities that keep your body moving, like gardening, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and walking your dog.
You can also make smarter food choices to help protect yourself from health problems as you age and may even help improve brain function. Much of the Mediterranean-style pallet, which includes whole grains, fresh produce, and healthy fats, but less dairy and more fish than a traditional American diet, may positively impact health.
A good night’s sleep
The importance of sleep in your youth is not stressed upon enough. Staying up late can, in many ways, hinder how active your brain stays during the day or work hours. While the negative impact may not show immediately, it may lead to visible problems once you age. Sleep helps you stay alert and healthy, whereas a lack of sleep will cause irritability, depression, and forgetfulness are more likely to have falls or accidents. It is also an essential factor contributing to your memory and mood. In a study with adults over 65, researchers found that people with poor quality of sleep had a more challenging time problem-solving and concentrating than those who received a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.
Additionally, inadequate sleep is associated with the buildup of beta-amyloid, which is a protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Conversely, getting good sleep is associated with lower rates of heart disease, insulin resistance, and obesity. It can also improve your decision-making skills and creativity.
Keep a gratitude journal.
Life may not be perfect, and you will encounter many hurdles in life that will take multiple forms. It’s important to remember that stress takes years off one’s life, so to counter stress, count all the blessings in life. Practicing gratitude is not just a simple “stay positive” outlook creating a placebo effect. The benefits of optimism are so powerful that they can help you to live a longer life. A study found that older adults with an optimistic disposition are at a lower risk of dying from any cause, with an exceptionally reduced risk of dying from heart disease.
Take a moment out of your day to report everything in life you are grateful for. Gratitude journaling will protect your physical and mental well-being as you age further into your life.
Staying social and connected
Staying socially engaged plays a vital role in maintaining cognitive functioning during your aging process. It helps the hippocampus, which is an area in your brain responsible for memory, stay active. Since depression is a significant contributor and indicator of poor mental health, keeping a social life will prevent loneliness and depression. Be more vocal about get-togethers, attend functions, and participate in activities that maximize your chance of socializing and making more friends.
Maintaining hobbies like baking or sports is also important since they are healthy for the mind and body and can provide more opportunities for social benefits.
Maintaining physical health is key to living better with more years of life without pain or disabilities. This includes a good diet and regularly indulging in exercise. Sleep is another important element that contributes to a healthy lifestyle. It ensures a healthy mind and body. Another activity that focuses on keeping a healthy mind is gratitude journaling, which helps you live a longer, more fulfilling life. Remember to keep your social life alive, stay in touch with family and friends, and attend several functions to keep your mind active and your memory strong. We hope you find this article insightful.
Guest Blog: How the Internet Has Changed How Society Cares for Seniors
Today’s technology is not only for the young. The digital age has brought with it innovations which aim to benefit seniors. A new age of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has made senior care better, more efficient and less costly. It aims to eliminate isolation, which has been a major concern for many years. It has provided caregivers in the healthcare industry a tool to allow seniors to be more independent and remain connected with friends and family.
When it comes to senior care, the IoT is revolutionizing the way seniors are living their lives. Assisted living communities are using the internet to connect and humanize senior care. Communities such as the K4Community leverage technology to make seniors’ life simpler, healthier and happier. These communities integrate IoT wearables such as watches or belt clips. They also have floor sensors that provide real-time monitoring to prevent falls and other injuries. Other types of sensors monitor heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels to immediately alert caregivers when there’s an emergency.
To lead a healthy, active lifestyle, IoT devices go beyond the standard activity trackers. Devices are more targeted towards the individual’s needs, alerting them when to rest, whether they’re standing up or down too fast and when to give their knees a break. Food and hydration is also considered, with wearables reminding seniors when it’s time to eat and how often to drink to maintain proper hydration. When it comes to sleep, sensors can also alert caregivers whether a senior needs help getting in and out of bed. With the internet being all about connection, keeping seniors in contact with friends and family is one of the best things the IoT can provide to improve senior health. Seniors are spending more time online, using social networks and other platforms to connect with loved ones.
This trend is only going to get more prevalent. Research shows that using the internet makes people happier and increases life satisfaction, especially for seniors. A study published in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior shows that life satisfaction was much higher among seniors who use the internet than those who don’t. The ability to keep in touch and prevent the cycle of loneliness and isolation in an advanced age has done more for senior health than any medication. It is no wonder then that internet use among seniors rose from 8% to 34% between 2003 and 2012, as cited by the Journalist’s Resource. The empowerment that the internet and technology have given seniors is invaluable to their health. Such developments revolutionized the way society and healthcare providers care for the elderly.
With Baby Boomers contributing to an increasingly aging population, the need for caregivers and connected assisted living communities is becoming greater than ever. In order to provide quality healthcare to seniors, healthcare is not just about technology but also about the people who provide it. Maryville University details how general healthcare workers can specialize in senior services to provide care for an aging population. Healthcare and senior care are becoming two of the fastest-growing industries. Boosted with the aid of technology and IoT devices, they provide a way to create a better quality of life for seniors, while reducing the costs of healthcare at the same time.
Article submitted by Tanya Olivers
Guest Blog: Anticipating, Planning, and Financing Your Long-Term Care Needs
According to the Motley Fool, 69 percent of Americans will need long-term care one day. While this statistic may look scary, you can overcome these fears by preparing for that eventuality ahead of time. As long as you have thought ahead, long-term care does not have to be a financial or emotional burden on you and your loved ones. Senior Care Central brings you some tips and resources that can help you prepare for long-term care.
How to Finance Your Long-Term Care Needs
The best long-term health plan works to prevent it from being needed and plans for the eventuality that it will. Even as you change your home and lifestyle to decrease your chances of ever having to fund long-term care, you need to know where those funds would come from.
There are a few options available to you, each with their pros and cons:
- You could simply set money aside for this purpose. If you choose to do this, it is worth understanding exactly how much money you need to save. The main benefit is that you will only ever spend as much money as is needed. The downsides are that you may find it harder to save for other expenses and that you can only really guess a target figure.
- You can purchase long-term care insurance. The main benefit is the ease of mind that comes with it, but it can add up to a lot of money over the years. This article by Nolo details the pros and cons in more detail.
- You can rely on existing health insurance, such as Medicare. Medicare can help fund some healthcare, but it does not cover what they call “custodial care,” which are the services associated with any form of assisted living. Seniors are often best off signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, which can offer additional coverage for prescription drugs and vision, dental, and hearing care. Just make sure you sign up during the yearly enrollment period.
How to Anticipate and Plan for Long-Term Care
Being smart about long-term care means facing the issue head-on and trying to determine, as objectively as possible, what issues you could have and how you could pay for them. Before thinking about the money, look at how you can possibly anticipate your future medical needs.
Of course, the answer is that you can’t — not really. But you can take a look at your lifestyle, health, and genetics to determine particular risks. For example:
- Are you exercising enough? If not, you are putting yourself at risk of stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, and certain cancers.
- Are you eating a balanced diet? Many people overestimate how healthy their diets are, so go back to basics and get a real understanding of what eating well means.
- Is your home safe for aging in? You can greatly reduce your risk of accident and injury if you make some small home modifications to keep yourself safe.
- Is there a history of illness in your family? Collect all the information you can get about your family medical history to see if you are at risk of any genetic illnesses.
Asking yourself these questions can be scary. However, running away from the subject is likely to make things worse. Apart from genetic illnesses and accidents (which can be managed and prevented), your health is actually well within your control. No matter how old you are now, efforts to improve it could save you the need for long-term care in the future.
Illnesses and accidents do happen sometimes, and the elderly may need more help getting back on their feet afterward. This is something you can try to prevent, but it is ultimately outside your control. What is fully within your control is how responsibly you plan for this eventuality, so that you can just focus on getting better if that day ever comes.
The Future of Rehabilitation: Trends and Predictions
The field of rehabilitation is evolving rapidly. New technologies are bringing about changes in how we practice and treat patients, and there are many ways OTs can be at the forefront of this shift. Here are predictions for what will change in the future of rehabilitation:
The growth of telerehabilitation
Telerehabilitation is an increasingly popular method of treating patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury or stroke. It allows you to work with a therapist from home and can improve your quality of life while reducing costs for the healthcare system overall.
The expanding role of the occupational therapist
As rehabilitation expands, the role of the occupational therapist is also expanding. OTs are becoming more involved in the healthcare system, working with patients who have a variety of conditions and using technology to help them recover for example providing a diabetic patient with physical exercise plan and a healthy eating strategy.
As this information becomes more widely available, more people will become aware that they can benefit from occupational therapy services. As a result, we expect demand for occupational therapists to rise significantly over time–especially as baby boomers age and need assistance with daily activities such as cooking or bathing themselves.
The future of homecare
The future of homecare is a topic that has been discussed at length by occupational therapists. While there are many ways to approach this question, one thing is clear: homecare will continue to be an important part of rehabilitation and recovery processes for patients.
Homecare is often characterized by its flexibility and accessibility for patients who need assistance with daily tasks but do not require hospitalization or other intensive treatment options. Like if a person is having diabetes and is also struggling with weight issues so they can be helped by following a weight loss plan for diabetes and helping them with their other health needs likewise a home health services can provide medical equipment such as wheelchairs or mobility aids; occupational therapy services may include help with physical therapy exercises (such as stretching) or assistive technology devices like iPads for communication purposes; speech-language pathology services might include speech therapy exercises for those who have difficulty speaking due to injury or illness; social work services might offer support groups where people go through similar experiences together so they don’t feel alone in their struggles; etcetera! This combination of different types of care allows patients to maintain independence while being cared for by professionals who understand exactly how challenging day-to-day life can be after an injury or illness has affected someone’s ability
How technology will change the way we practice
The future of rehabilitation will be much more efficient and effective, thanks to technology. We’ll be able to diagnose and treat patients remotely, providing them with support whenever they need it. We’ll also be able to collect data on patient outcomes in order to provide better care in the future.
The use of technology to connect patients with their healthcare providers will increase.
As technology continues to advance and become more accessible, it’s likely that patients will have more opportunities to connect with their health care providers. This can help reduce the need for in-person visits, which can be costly for both insurers and patients alike.
The use of technology will also allow patients to receive instructions for exercises and diet plans remotely–which could save money by reducing the need for physical therapy visits or trips to the doctor’s office.
Telemedicine will become more popular, as well as mobile apps.
The use of telemedicine and mobile apps is growing rapidly, especially among people with disabilities.
Telemedicine is a way to get medical care remotely. Mobile apps can be used in the same way as telemedicine, but they’re also useful for things like monitoring your health data or getting reminders about your next appointment (among other things).
Both methods are growing in popularity because they give patients access to specialists who wouldn’t otherwise be available locally; this includes people living in rural areas without access to nearby hospitals or clinics.
Research on muscle stimulation and brain activity will advance.
As more research is conducted on the brain and how it works, new treatments will emerge. The same goes for muscle stimulation, which is a popular treatment option for stroke victims. Research on both has already led to new methods of rehabilitation; combining these two fields of study could lead us even further into the future of rehabilitation.
VR will be integrated into rehabilitation techniques.
Virtual reality (VR) is a great way to motivate patients and help them visualize their recovery. It can also be used to simulate real-world situations, such as walking through the grocery store or navigating crowded sidewalks.
With advancements in technology, VR will become even more immersive and interactive than it already is today. For example, if you’re recovering from surgery on your hip or knee joint and want to see what it would look like when healed properly, a virtual reality simulation could provide an accurate depiction of what that might look like–and show how much better life could be after rehabilitation!
Data analytics will help identify which patients are responding best to a particular treatment plan.
Data analytics will help identify which patients are responding best to a particular treatment plan.
By tracking data from individual patients, doctors can better understand how each person responds to certain medications or therapies, as well as their overall health status. This information is invaluable for improving patient care and ensuring that everyone gets the best possible treatment options based on their specific needs. For example, if you have diabetes and you’re taking medication to manage it, your doctor may want to monitor how much sugar is in your blood at different times throughout the day (or night). If this number creeps up too high or too low without any apparent reason–for example, if you’ve forgotten about taking your pill–the doctor can adjust dosage accordingly so it doesn’t happen again.
An increasing number of people who have been in car accidents or had strokes will seek online support groups from others who have experienced similar injuries.
As more people are able to connect with others who have been through similar experiences, they will be able to find support groups online.
Support groups provide a great way to talk about your feelings and learn from other people who have experienced the same injuries as you. For example, if you were in an accident or had a stroke, you could join an online support group where people who have been through those things can share their stories with each other. It’s easier for most people to open up about personal issues online rather than face-to-face because there’s no pressure or judgment involved when communicating via social media platforms like Facebook Messenger or Reddit threads (or even text messages).
These trends hold great promise for people who need physical therapy and other types of rehabilitation
As technology becomes more and more integral to our lives, it’s no surprise that it will affect the way we practice rehabilitation. Here are some of the most significant trends:
- More patients will be able to connect with their healthcare providers via video chat and other forms of telemedicine. This means that you can meet with your physical therapist or other health professional in person less often, which saves both time and money for both parties involved.
- Mobile apps that make therapy easier to access may become more popular among patients looking for alternatives to traditional treatment options like physical therapy or occupational therapy (OT). These apps allow users to track their progress at home or on-the-go by inputting data into their phones’ sensors–which could lead those who need rehab services but don’t have time for regular appointments with professionals like us here at Fitness & Wellness Center!
Rehab is evolving, and there are lots of opportunities for OTs to be at the forefront.
OTs will be in a good position to help patients get back to their day-to-day lives.
The future of rehabilitation is evolving, and there are lots of opportunities for OTs to be at the forefront. You can help patients recover from injuries or illnesses by helping them get back into their daily routines–whether that’s working out, cooking dinner or just sitting down on the couch with their family after work. This can also include helping them set up home gym equipment or find ways around obstacles if they’re having trouble walking up stairs.
We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it. If you’re an OT or PT who’s interested in working with technology, I encourage you to explore these areas and see how they might apply to your practice. You may not be able to use every one of these technologies right away–after all, not everyone has access to VR equipment or telemedicine programs–but they are important tools that can help people recover faster from injuries and illnesses.