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It's Spring - Five tech changes to make now

It's been a long winter -- between the news, the weather, and news about the weather. As spring has sprung (or nearly so in blizzard-bombarded regions), let's think about excellent spring-time opportunities for seniors, families who care about them, and the residential environments in which they live.

1. Cell phones. Before leaving the house, does everyone have a charged up cell phone? They are cheap these days, including Jitterbug phone service for as low as $10/month, a Clarity phone with hearing amplification, or a Verizon 65+ calling plan ($29.99/month) with Chaperone $9.99 service for location of an individual who left the house without telling anyone.

2. Home assessment.  So how safe and comfortable are the insides, entrances and exits of the home anyway? Does the home have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, an intruder alarm, and are doorway and walkway areas of the home free of obstacles? Is there a number to call to do an in-home assessment of safety, possible retrofitting and changes, and while there, take a look around and assess for how much access there is to the outside world beyond television? To help, I just posted a forum topic for all you startups out there to post your business descriptions.

3. Information access. Which brings me to Information access -- just heard about another startup in the simplification domain, PawPawMail -- for simplified access to e-mail, a good start to accessing the world beyond 4 walls of home or apartment. There's a lot more out there, though, and the mission of anyone who knows someone who has none of it needs to evaluate and make a decision already on what they want to do to overcome computer-phobia. Information starvation and isolation is not a healthy aging lifestyle.

4. Cognitive and other fitnesses. For those who live in communities that have clubhouses, meeting rooms, or other central areas, it's time to lobby for a series of fitness improvements. Adding weight lifting to help preserve muscle and prevent bone loss would be a good idea -- check the website of author Miriam Nelson (Strong Women Stay Young) at StrongWomen.com -- virtual strength training. Get a Wii game environment and start a Wii Fitness class. Take a look at the game portion of Big Screen Live, SoftShell, or move up a tier to cognitive fitness with Brain Age, MindFit, or Posit Science. As I noted last week, cognitive fitness helps sharpen the mind and keep it active. Larger claims than that at this point are just what they seem: larger.

5. Time to take a course. When we stop learning new things, we're done. We don't need a study to tell us how searching the web and learning something new can activate our minds. So spring is a time to check out (or teach) Lifelong Learning at the local college, exercise with a yoga DVD, study online through Retired Brains, learn about using computers at the Computer School for Seniors, or take a course through the telephone-based Dorot University without Walls.

And of course, look online at flower shows.

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