Elder Care in The Future
The Pros and Cons of Pandemic Isolation
During the pandemic, New York’s elderly were particularly encouraged to stay indoors, but this had unintended consequences. As COVID-19 began spreading in New York, nursing homes followed guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to isolate residents completely and prohibit visitors. As a result, the already-existing sense of loneliness among the elderly worsened due to cognitive and physical decline, and reduced social interaction. Beth Finkel, the state director of AARP New York, equated loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness can lead to increased rates of heart disease, stroke, and dementia, as well as depression and anxiety.
While many senior facilities introduced video conferencing services like Zoom, some elderly individuals found them challenging to use. Research by Yang Hu revealed that, during the pandemic, some seniors found digital communication methods more frustrating than having no social contact at all.
To bridge the digital divide among the elderly, New York City provided technology training services and distributed 10,000 internet-enabled tablets for free. Non-profit organizations partnered with the city to implement virtual programs such as exercise and educational classes. These efforts led to a reduction in the digital divide among seniors.
On the other hand, many elder care experts believe that direct in-person interaction is most beneficial for both physical and mental health. The pandemic has likely prompted a reevaluation of the importance of bridging the digital divide among the elderly and the value of social interaction.
Pet Startups Are Thriving
As a child, returning to my maternal grandparents’ home during summer vacation was a tradition for our family. The warm reception from my grandparents, cousins, and the pets—a Shiba Inu named Maru and a calico cat named Miko—upon passing through the gate of their home remains a vivid memory. Unfortunately, my grandparents have both passed away, and in their later years, they both suffered from dementia, requiring care. Supporting my grandparents was a blend of physical care from my cousins and the mental care provided by our furry family members.
This article introduces the thriving pet industry in the United States. Boosted by the pandemic’s emphasis on alleviating loneliness, the popularity of pets has surged across age groups, including seniors. Pet adoption has skyrocketed over the past 18 months, and e-commerce site “Chewy” saw a 51% increase in sales during the fourth quarter. The American pet care market, already worth $100 billion before the pandemic, is projected to triple over the next ten years.
Alongside the booming market, services are emerging to alleviate the burden on pet owners and diversify options for supporting pets’ happiness. Startups like “Barkyn” and “Small Door,” which provide comprehensive health care for dogs, have garnered significant investor expectations.
While human-pet companionship dates back thousands of years, with relationships with dogs stretching back tens of thousands of years, the market’s vitality suggests even closer connections between humans and their pets in the coming decades. Imagining a future where I can welcome my furry family members, just like Maru and Miko welcomed me, when I become a senior myself is heartwarming.
How to Ensure Your Financial Security in the Future
Researchers from the Stanford Center on Longevity and the University of Minnesota have released the “Thinking Ahead Roadmap” to help individuals entrust their finances to reliable individuals for management. This roadmap offers steps for choosing a suitable person to manage finances before signs of cognitive decline make managing money difficult. It emphasizes the importance of having the necessary legal authority (power of attorney) in place.
The article also discusses the importance of proxy management for those who are reluctant to admit their aging parents need help or who struggle to talk about financial matters. Addressing the sensitive topic of money highlights the importance of creating mechanisms that allow both stakeholders and individuals concerned to face these issues.
6 Affordable Transportation Options for Seniors
For elderly individuals whose physical strength has waned due to aging, even short distances can be a significant challenge to navigate. Senior care website “Daily Caring” offers a compilation of transportation options that seniors can utilize. The article introduces various options, including public transportation and ride-sharing services like “Lyft,” which are not only convenient for young people but also for the elderly. Additionally, there are services tailored specifically for seniors, such as an app that collaborates with insurance companies and medical facilities to provide non-covered medical transportation.
As these apps and services for seniors continue to grow, they have the potential to lower barriers to caregiving in an aging society. However, designing these services to be user-friendly for the elderly is a separate challenge. With service development, addressing the issue of digital divide for the elderly also becomes essential.
Eldery Care and Digital Literacy
Amid rapid advancements in IT technology, our lives are becoming more convenient by the day. However, this assumption raises questions. In Japan, approximately 29% of the total population consists of elderly individuals. How many of them are truly benefiting from technology? The digital divide is a crucial issue that cannot be underestimated in an aging society.
In a similar super-aging society, China is implementing an interesting initiative called “Time Banking.” This involves recently retired individuals contributing to enhancing digital literacy among the oldest seniors. This initiative not only tackles the digital divide but also creates employment opportunities for the early elderly and contributes to dementia prevention.