Looking Out for Our Elders

By Amy Holler, Home Instead Senior Care.

For the first time in human history, there are more old than young! This is a growing trend as birth rates decline and longevity increases. Who is considered old, you might ask? Most developed countries consider 65 years of age as a reference point. This shift in population is having major global implications, including social, economic and cultural challenges. Although aging and longevity are one of humanity’s greatest feats, this unprecedented phenomenon also produces many challenges, of which the most detrimental is ageism. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines ageism “as pertaining to the stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination directed towards others or oneself based on age.”

Ageism is ingrained in our society and culture in many subtle ways. The beauty industry paints aging as a picture of fear and revulsion. Media and entertainment depict older adults in a negative, inconsequential way. Even healthcare professionals can assume ageist practices, such as talking to a family member in the exam room instead of the older adult. Myths and stereotypes surrounding aging tend to drive our thoughts and actions. 

However, ageism is being studied and analyzed by many global institutions, such as the WHO, the Global Coalition on Aging and the United Nations (UN), along with many universities and hospitals. These institutions are producing important data, which, in turn, is driving policies and legislation aimed at eradicating this type of discrimination. For example, the Homecare for Seniors Act, H.R. 2898, is being lobbied on Capitol Hill here in the U.S. This Health Savings Account (HSA) Act will allow senior citizens and their families to use their own money saved in HSAs to pay for home care services. 

The veil of ageism is slowly being pulled back across the globe. Leaders are striving to advance medicine and technology to help meet the challenges of longer life expectancy. Even so, changing how we think, feel and act toward the aged begins in our communities. The positive aging movement is sweeping the countryside, proselytizing the belief that productivity, growth and creativity are possible throughout a lifetime. We each have a wealth of opportunities to help people live and age better. As stated on a car bumper sticker, “Old People are Cool.”

Amy Holler – Franchise Owner of Home Instead Senior Care on MacDade Blvd in Holmes, PA. Contact the author at 267-551-4700 or by email: [email protected].

Technology and the Modern World

By Amy Holler of Home Instead Senior Care

Tech or no tech? That is the question. On the surface, we take some aspects of technology for granted, such as cameras at red lights, voice-controlled virtual assistants, video doorbells and self-checkouts. Most of us regularly use a cell phone and/or computer, not only to communicate but also to receive information. These advances in technology have become so quickly ingrained in our daily lives that they often go virtually unnoticed. But where does it end? Or, is this only the beginning?

There is no doubt that advancements in technology have proven extremely valuable in many aspects of modern life. Perpetrators of crimes can now be identified with the use of video cameras. Many office jobs can now be done remotely utilizing applications such as Zoom or Teams. Even some surgeries can now be performed by robots.  

Nevertheless, technology has its negative effects. Unemployment has been a result of computers entering the workspace since they can do the work of many people in less time.  Data security is a major issue since sharing a single piece of information online increases the chances of it reaching the hands of criminals and hackers. People have become addicted to technology such as social media, causing them to be complacent, thus affecting their health with issues such as obesity and insomnia.  

We now find ourselves thrust further into the world of technology through the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). Encyclopedia Britannica explains AI as the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experiences. AI technology has many benefits, such as monitoring bank transactions for suspected payment fraud and reviewing large sets of medical data searching for disease patterns that would advance patient treatments.  However, society could be facing the most menacing aspect of this technology: self-developing AI systems. Computer and technology expert Stephen Hawking once stated, “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that will outperform humans.” Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently expressed its concern over this technology’s potential dangers and lack of regulation.  

Technology is transforming every walk of life, even to the point of changing our brains and bodies. However, we can reap its benefits while not allowing it to overtake us. Developing healthy practices such as regularly “unplugging” from tech and enjoying nature walks are good ways to balance our lives and maintain both our physical and psychological well-being. After all, technology alone is neither good nor bad. It is the way and extent to which we use it that truly matters. 

Expert Contributor for Home Health Care, Amy Holler – Franchise Owner of Home Instead for more information contact Amy at 267-551-4700 or by email [email protected]