Monday, May 19, 2014

There's an App for That

It seems that no matter what you want to do, someone will remind you, “There’s an app for that,” and sure enough there is. Often it is things you don’t even think about. “How did you tie that scarf?” There’s an app for that. Apple owns the trademark for the slogan, but it now pops up in everyday language.

It has become a running joke that apps can make the difficult easy. They provide quick, simple solutions. We now have an “app generation” that knows they can click on an icon and have the knowhow that used to be passed from generation to generation. They take for granted having the world at their fingertips, a world that we couldn’t even imagine when we were kids.

As personal electronic devices become easier and more user friendly, we boomers have come to embrace the wonderful world of technology. What we have learned is something that younger generations have always had. We went through years of schooling without spell check, grammar check, the ability to just back up to erase the typed word, no Google search for research papers, rotary telephones plugged into a wall that served one purpose—conversation, and no concept of what an “app” was, or that it would ever exist.

Even those of us boomers with wild imaginations didn’t foresee the day when school kids would be walking around with text books on a slim device. And the thought of being in constant communication with our parents would have probably seemed more like a nightmare than a desired condition. Our parents were parents—not our best friends.

Now that we boomers are reaching the age when we are most vulnerable to Alzheimer’s, the brave new world has come up with a possible solution—maybe, just maybe, there is, or will be, an app for people with dementia.

I read an article this morning about Apple and Google technology helping fight Alzheimer’s disease. The article spoke of tests and treatments disguised as games. Wrist watches and eye glasses that could be used for GPS tracking, facial recognition, and help with daily living.

Maybe more research should go into developing smart phones, or other electric devices, specifically for people with dementia, especially those who are in early stages. Devices would need to be easy to keep track of, super easy to use with voice activated apps, and pictures.

Think about the problems that people in the early stages of dementia have—they forget appointments, forget to take medication, get lost, have trouble communicating, and trouble problem solving. Well, I know for a fact that I’ve used my smart phone to solve the first three problems on that list. I’m not too likely to forget appointments when my smart phone reminds me. I had trouble remembering to take my morning medication until I put a reminder on my phone. Getting lost is not an option with GPS on my phone. Wouldn’t it be easier for the memory impaired to communicate if they could see the person they were talking to instead of just hearing them? After all, words are only seven percent of our communication with each other. Facial expressions are included in body language and account for 55 percent. We’ve already discussed that there’s an app for solving a myriad of problems.

Why not have Medicare dollars pay for technology to enhance independent ability rather than drugs that cause side effects and often diminish alertness? Not only can technology help now, it will be even more beneficial for future generations who have technology entrenched in their long-term memories.

copyright© May 2014 by L.S. Fisher

Article: Sun, Leo.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Retirement Advantage #1—Inclement Weather Strategy

I’ve only been officially retired for about a month, although I’ve been heading in that direction since July. That was when my job position was filled by someone else, and I focused on a special project. Although I didn’t go to the office every day, I still felt a sense of having a day job.
Now, I’m cut off from the payroll that has sustained my standard of living for more than three decades. That is something that warrants serious thought and well-thought out strategy. Retirement is not good without financial security, and now I’m glad that a large part of the equation was figuring out how I could afford to retire.

For thirty-three years, my life revolved around another day at the office. An office with a lot of responsibility and a darn good paycheck. I thrive on responsibility and appreciate a steady income, so why on earth did I retire?

Part of the reason is that I wanted to enjoy the things I’ve put on hold for the greater part of my life. Retirement is my reward to myself. I want to spend more time with family and have time for activities that bring me enjoyment. I’ve spent years running on adrenaline and stress. I want to stress less and relax more.

First, part of stress reduction is to not worry so much about the weather. We’ve had snow on the ground heading toward the second week. I did not have the anxious feeling that has been the norm during wintertime since December 1980.

Now, I can sit around drinking coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy the beauty of the snow. If I don’t want to go out, I just cancel everything and stay snug and warm. No scraping ice or slip sliding on the road.

Today, I trampled through the snow in exhilarating freezing weather to get my newspaper and mail at one o’clock in the afternoon. I couldn’t help but think about how different this is from past winters when I had to be out and about by 6:30 a.m.

So, for me, the first retirement advantage is not having to get up before daylight and making a death-defying drive into work. No more looking out the window at work wondering if I’ll be able to make it home before the roads drift.

Yes, grasshopper, age has its privileges.

Copyright © February 2014 by L. S. Fisher