Most prejudice is based on a lack of knowledge, and ageism is no different. Yet when younger and older people are brought together in a variety of settings, these misconceptions tend to disappear, a new study finds.
Educating younger people about the aging process has “a very strong effect on outcomes, attitudes and knowledge” about aging, said study author David Burnes, assistant professor of social work at the University of Toronto.
In fact, said Burnes, people who hold negative attitudes about aging tend to die seven years sooner, on average, than those who feel more positively about the aging process. “There’s a difference in the way that older adults are treated, including the assumption that they’re less competent, with their views or opinions taken less seriously,” Burnes explained. “There’s also a tendency to put older adults in a box in terms of the way they ought to behave or act.”
The Millennial generation is shifting these preconceptions.
For many Millennials, elder care is personal: that’s their grandparent you’re talking about. But unlike previous generations, Millennials have a powerful tool to help them change perceptions about aging: the Internet.
The digital landscape is reimagining health, safety, finances, food, transportation — “virtually” every aspect of aging. And this means an expanded definition of caregiving, which can help bring generations together.
Memory Care, Reimagined
Caregiving will become a real, possibly urgent need if we live long enough. However, given the growing shortage of human caregivers, technology can help bridge the gap in myriad ways. From animatronic pets assisting team members in memory care communities, to compassionate robots, startup founders are stepping up to support the rising tide of older adults — especially those who are isolated and lonely:
- Mental Monitor. With someone in the U.S. developing dementia every 66 seconds, how do you know if, or when, an older loved one is becoming cognitively impaired? MyndYou knows.
MyndYou is a mobile platform that monitors cognitive, physiological and behavioral metrics to provide dementia insights. Its algorithm leverages data from sensors to detect changes, and conveys their implications, along with recommended actions and therapies, to family members and designated medical professionals.
Because MyndYou allows families to make decisions based on objective information, it can improve the quality of life for all involved — and give everyone a better sense of when it’s appropriate for a loved one to move from assisted living into one of The Kensington’s memory care neighborhoods.
- “Watch”ing Out for Your Loved One. A senior who might refuse to wear a medical alert pendant will look stylish and up-to-date wearing a smartwatch that’s also a GPS tracker, which helps keep them safer than a smartphone. A smartwatch can tell a caregiver or remote family member when the wearer is running, sitting, standing, walking and even lying down, and many models contain an alert button to push in the event of a fall or other emergency.
And if there’s no movement at a time when the elder is expected to be up and about, this can signal that something is wrong, enabling help to get there much sooner and potentially save a life.
- The Right Prescription. One serious issue for seniors is the risk of mixing up medications, mistakenly taking 4 pills at 2 o’clock instead of 2 pills at 4 o’clock, for instance, which can lead to disastrous consequences.
For one Millennial entrepreneur, it was an easy fix: presort prescriptions into single-dose packs, clearly labeled with the day and time to tear open and pop the pills. The packs come in one long strip rolled into a dispenser, and arrive by mail every two weeks. It’s so simple, it’s a wonder nobody thought of it before.
The company even created an app that uses customized, geo-tracking sensors to create reminder prompts. And of course, once your senior loved one moves to The Kensington, our licensed nurses are on staff 24/7 for medication reminders and administration.
- You’ve Got A Friend. If your loved one is still living at home and you know assisted living is in their future, a care robot can be an unobtrusive companion that also reminds a senior in a friendly way to drink enough water, take medication on time, and eat three meals a day.
And while robots are not known for their emotions, thought to be a uniquely human quality, the ElliQ is designed to provide emotional support to seniors who want to age in place. The active aging companion keeps elders actively engaged. And these social robots, like robotpets, are accepted and welcomed by those with dementia.
- The Buck Stops Here. Seniors who may have donated to various charities all their lives can be blindsided by fraudsters who see them as an easy mark. Or they might develop memory loss and begin distributing their savings to anyone who calls and asks for money.
When the latter happened to Kai Stinchcombe’s grandmother, he founded True Link, which issues senior Visa cards with an online dashboard that family members can access to block merchants or groups engaged in suspicious behavior.
Family can also limit transaction amounts and keep a watchful eye on their loved one’s savings and checking accounts. Best of all, instead of taking away a senior’s credit cards and sense of autonomy, True Link allows the older person to maintain their independence.
Bridging Generations at The Kensington
At The Kensington Falls Church, intergenerational collaboration is our natural mode: our team consists of skilled professionals representing several generations of expertise, in addition, of course, to our wonderful residents themselves, the repository of wisdom who it’s our privilege to serve.
Whether you’re just beginning to explore memory care communities or are ready to relocate your loved one now, we invite you to come spend time at The Kensington Falls Church, an ideal senior living community that’s home to six senior centers, 14 parks, and endless sites and activities to keep everyone engaged and active, including Famille Café, a gathering place for those with memory loss and their friends and families.
We look forward to meeting you soon!
Additional Recommended Reading:
- There’s No Better Time to Tour Assisted Living Than the New Year
- The Importance of Maintaining Traditions with Seniors
- Celebrating the Holidays with a Loved One Who Has Memory Loss
- How to Preserve Independence in Assisted Living
- You Look Fabulous! Skin Care for Older Adults
- Meet Me at the Memory Cafe