Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
It’s that time of year – everyone knows someone. Your grandmother, your mother, father, uncle – they are, for the most part, living in their own homes, where not-so-hidden dangers are all around. Perhaps in addition, they are lonely – as this very sad article describes. So you know someone who is older than you and, perhaps, lives alone – as 46% of the women aged 75+ do, according to the US Census. So what might be a list of gift ideas aimed at a few of the opportunities and concerns of the 75+ person in your circle of family or friends or individuals in your neighborhood senior center? If you have them, please add your own suggestions to this list.
Pathway and motion lighting – towards the bathroom. I was once a big fan of the Peabody Hotel in Orlando – and not because of the over-hyped ducks – which will be a memory, now that Hyatt has purchased the hotel. The hotel had pathway motion-sensor lighting under the bedside table so that finding the bathroom is easy. One hopes that Hyatt keeps the lighting, if not the ducks. But for the home, Walmart has motion lights too, it turns out, and HomeDepot has a $9.99 motion-sensor night light. Along with wearing water shoes in the shower, getting grab bars and a shower seat, it is possible to make a dangerous home environment somewhat safer.
Tablets at Walmart? The high end of the tablet market makes most of the online news – and generally one might think that Walmart was late to the market as a technology provider. Yet they may have the the lowest price on tablets at a store you can get to – $69 for a NextBook 7-inch tablet or this Hisense Sero one for $80. There is an associated online forum for reviews of this product – so you can see what others have encountered with a tablet in this price range.
Low-priced no-contract smartphone – with prepaid plan. Smartphones with simplified user interfaces are out there and there will be more (check out this delightful and customizable one from the UK called OwnFone). In the model of try with option to buy – there are some reasonably cheap(er) smartphones out today (see T-Mobile’s) or look into the Republic Wireless option – a gift of your time to show someone how to use it and a gift of pre-purchased data and minutes -- navigating the ridiculously complex plan combinations is part of the gift. And one of the great features of a smart phone – Google’s NAV – you speak where you want to go – and in return, you get audio turn-by-turn directions. What's not to like? Unfortunately, Google wrecked this feature in a MAPS upgrade – but watch, you can get rid of the upgrade by watching this video.
eReader with pre-purchased books. eBooks that are easy on the eyes turned out to be one of the great technology leaps forward for older adults. The lowest-priced Kindle is now $69 or (refurbished for $59) – and connects to free WiFi at AT&T hotspots. You can buy books through your Amazon account and lend them – or purchase a number of books and load them -- and then share the monthly specials under $3.99.