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computers, internet and social networking

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computers, internet and social networking

Five Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from June 2020

June -- it was the worst of times.  Who can comprehend that 43% of Covid-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes? Who could have imagined the economic impact of job loss and (almost all) business shutdown?  Who could have speculated that senior living organizations would have occupancy levels nationwide below 88%? Who would have thought that telehealth definitions would include phone calls and Facetime?  Most importantly, as so many families were reminded, their aging relatives had not adopted any of the devices and software that would enable face-to-face communication. Or that high speed internet would not be available in nursing homes or the dementia care units in assisted living where their relatives now lived. Let’s hope July is better! Here are the five blog posts from June 2020:

Big tech – from simple tools to cynicism and hapless users

Reading about big tech controversies can make you sigh.  Rant on. You may remember when the browser arrived.  Maybe you knew about Mosaic in 1993 or Netscape Navigator in 1994.  But you probably did not try them unless you were a geek -- because there wasn’t much to look at then on the so-called World-wide-Web.  Apple’s Safari did not appear until 2003 and Google Chrome in 2008 – eventually these dominated the browser market, though three cheers for the existence of privacy-oriented browser Brave (2016) and search tool DuckDuckGo (2008). No doubt both will disappear into acquisitions. As for social media, things really got going with AOL Instant Messenger in 1993 -- then all was pretty quiet until 2003-4, when LinkedIn, MySpace, Skype, and Facebook all arrived. 

Five older adult new offerings in the time of Covid-19

Companies continue to invent and introduce technology. In the face of the devastation and economic collapse precipitated by the pandemic, many tech firms soldier on, finding opportunity, re-spinning products, and announcing new capability. It is encouraging to see this sheer quantity of free offerings, accelerated interest in telehealth, and other innovations in smart homes, healthcare and robotics that have emerged in the past few months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are just five focused on older adults:

Pew's simplistic survey of Internet importance during Covid-19

How essential has the Internet been during this pandemic? Read down the April Pew report with the moniker, “53% of Americans say the Internet has been essential during the Covid-19 pandemic. Go past the concerns about whether students can complete work, past the political debate about whether the government should provide Internet access -- there are some interesting nuggets and puzzling findings. During the Covid-19 outbreak, only 31% of the 65+ said the Internet was essential; 49% said it was important but not essential, and 20% said it was not too/not at all important, with likely those with more education believing it to be essential.   Given that response, it also followed that those over age 65 were not too worried about being able to pay the bill for smartphone or broadband use. 

Tackling Covid-19’s social isolation of seniors – one tech at a time

Saving seniors from Covid-19 means worsening isolation. In an article in the NY Times, Paula Span’s title said it all: Just What Older People Didn’t Need: More Isolation. The article attempts a number of references to mitigation, including the use of GrandPad in two Pace programs. These are compelling, but the overall story is about the oldest on the wrong side of the Digital Divide, which is notable and particularly pitiful in settings like nursing homes, Note in the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 guidance about nursing homes, at the very end, authors acknowledge the risk of social isolation and make a few (lame) recommendations. These do not include, unfortunately, providing usable technologies to connect isolated seniors with families. What might they be to help with loneliness? Here are six that businesses and non-profits serving older adults should provide for each of their constituents. Please nominate another six -- especially consider those with dementia.

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