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San Francisco Telehealth Summit, February 11, 2021

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The social networking implications of wills, grandparenting, and elevators

Did you think you would need a Facebook executor in your will?  Bet not. There is more than enough challenge dealing with Facebook and its side effects while we are still kicking. But sure enough, from the Wall Street Journal: "The U.S. General Services Administration recommends people set up a ‘social-media will,’ review the privacy policies and terms and conditions of each website on which they have a presence and stipulate in their traditional will that the 'online executor' get a copy of the death certificate." Some are even valuing the material they have posted online. McAfee’s survey last year found that consumers value their digital assets, on average, at nearly $37,000, although US consumers valued content at $55,000: "That includes photos, projects, hobbies, personal records, career information, entertainment and email." This baffles me. It would seem that if you trust someone to be the executor of your will in which your bank accounts, home, and valuables are at stake, your online material would roll into that.

Grandparents and Skype – the good, the bad -- and how we're not there yet. MetLife’s recent report on Grandparents noted that while only 12% of grandparents use Skype and 24% use Facebook, 39% of grandparents have a grandchild living more than 500 miles away.  But read through this recent Boston Globe article – based on interviews with various upscale and Skype-competitive grandparents -- and it becomes clear that 12-month and 18-month old children have no grasp as to where their grandparent physically is or what they are looking at. "But despite almost daily video calls, when her grandmother came to town recently from Ohio, and Emma saw her in person, the little girl started to cry, reacting almost as if her grandmother was a stranger."  But her grandmother IS physically a stranger – this is akin to the misnomer of Facebook 'friending' – which until I read the Globe article, I seriously thought would exclude participation (not just account sign on) of children under the age of two. Skype babysitting is next.

Thinking about elevators and the elderly.  If you had a charged device on which to read it, this week there was plenty of advice on keeping a device charged in a power outage. But in the aftermath of the monumental Hurricane Sandy, I was  reading this comment in the New York Daily News that made me shudder -- a 51-year-old who has to walk up and down from his 26th floor apartment because the electricity is off. "Now, we have to walk the stairs. It's a lot easier going down."  Feasible for him, but think about all of the NORCs in New York, the high rise buildings filled with aging people, increasingly in need of services provided by the city’s housing authority, by organizations like SelfHelp and others. Without working elevators, the disabled and elderly are trapped in these buildings whose daily means of exit or delivery of supplies is via an elevator. Do they have a landline, an already-charged phone to call for help, or are they without cell coverage? Remember the Boston local social network that formed in 2011 to help out with snow shoveling? At some point down the line, I hope to read more about the local social networks (online or off) that helped out NORC residents during this hurricane.

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