The desire to be loved and adored doesn’t automatically disappear once one reaches his or her golden years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the life expectancy for females is 81.2 and for males, 76.4 years old; with men and women living longer than ever before, there’s plenty of time for a love life. These days, seniors are no strangers to the dating scene and nor should they.
Just because the senior population is living longer and alone, doesn’t mean they should have to pass on companionship. In 2014, 72% of senior citizen aged men and 46% of women of the same age were married. In the same year, there were 8.7 million widows and 2.3 million widowers. While divorce and separation in older individuals remains low at 14%, the percentage has almost tripled since 1980. The statistics prove that there are many seniors on their own.
Although many seniors are happy to live alone or don’t want to attempt the dating scene ever again, many could benefit from companionship.
Take the Plunge, Start Dating
If you are a senior, living alone and longing for companionship, don’t be afraid to get yourself out there and start looking for a potential partner. While it can be an overwhelming adventure, take small steps, be confident, and have fun. There’s no point to dating if you’re not going to enjoy the process. Afraid of be viewed as too silly or immature? Senior citizens dating is more popular (and normal) than ever. Here are some tips to get started:
- Join Groups: If you want to meet new people the old-fashioned way, you’re going to have to take an active role. Check out classes at your senior center or try activities you’ve never done before (i.e. yoga, hiking, cooking), there may be eligible mates in attendance. Some senior communities have “Singles Groups”, don’t pass up the opportunity to mingle.
- Look Up an Old Friend: Still think about that old significant other from high school or college? Wonder what he or she has been up to all these years? Do a simple internet search or look them up on a social media site like Facebook. Seems too farfetched? You never know, your long lost love may be living alone and looking for companionship as well.
- Consider Online Dating: If you consider yourself tech-savvy, give online dating a try. While there are pros and cons to online dating, there are plenty of age appropriate sites just for seniors, such as AARP, Stitch, eHarmony, and Our Time. Many people prefer online dating because they feel like it’s easier to be themselves, but at the same time, some people pretend to be someone they are not.
- Online Dating Safety: While a majority of online dating is legitimate and safe, you should always be cautious when sharing your information. It’s easy to get swept away by the perfect profile and Mr. or Mrs. Right who seems to pen the most beautiful love notes, but it’s important to beware of potential online scams that can leave you heartbroken and penniless.
When dating, don’t be afraid to be yourself, don’t forget to communicate all or your expectations (it’s okay to be picky), and don’t forget to have fun. While you may not find the love of your life, you may find the perfect dance partner or dinner date, just use your head before your heart.
As you grow older, your driving patterns will change and a time will come when you might have to give up your keys. According to Mushkatel, Robbins, & Becker, “Barely half of Americans 65 and older held a driver’s license in the early 1970s. Today, 84% of seniors have a license”. It is important to recognize when that is the case. This does not mean the end of your independence, as there are a number of ways you can get around without hassle. This might mean making a switch to what can be a safer and healthier lifestyle for you in your senior years. Your body will give you signs to let you know that your driving patterns have become harmful, and it is necessary to pay attention to those signs. Here’s how to recognize these warning signs.
Health Related Complications
Some of the early warning signs that your age might be interfering with your driving are usually health related. One of the most common complications are health issues that affect your eyesight. If you have an eye condition that affects your vision that is a very clear indication that you should give up your keys. While such a condition might not directly affect your ability to see, it might compromise your night vision, making it difficult for you to drive in the dark. This could also be sensitivity to light or blurred vision.
Loss of Hearing
Loss of hearing could also be a very important sign, since your hearing is vital to your continued safety on the road. If you find that you are increasingly unaware of people honking around you or other safety cues necessary for the road, then you might need to reconsider your decision to keep driving.
If you are on constant medication, you should confirm with your healthcare provider if it is okay for you to keep driving, This is because the side effects of certain medication includes an inability to drive. The same goes should you discover that your reflexes seem to have slowed down and you are finding it increasingly difficult to react as swiftly as you should when you are driving.
Another key health related complication stems from memory loss. Getting lost or missing your way once in a while can happen to anyone. However, if this happens regularly, then you should seek professional help and suspend driving until you hear from your doctor.
Difficulty with Normal Driving Routine
When driving gradually becomes more stressful and you find yourself having difficulty with normal driving routine such as forgetting to turn on your lights, making sudden turns without using your signal or even breaking for no reason, then your driving has probably turned harmful. Also, if you find that you are increasingly having close calls such as near crashes and dents on your car, then that is a warning sign as well.
Benefits of Not Driving
Giving up driving does have several benefits. Not driving may not be easy for you at first, particularly if you have been driving your entire life and it is something you enjoy doing. Nevertheless, deciding not to drive can save your life and the lives of others sharing the road with you. Some benefits include:
Expand Your Network – This is a good way to meet people and expand your social network. If you are reluctant to ask a friend or neighbor for a ride, you can trade something in exchange.
Save on Gasoline and other costs – Owning and keeping a car can be a drain on the resources. Giving up your car means that you save on gasoline and other related costs.
Reduce health risks – In seeking alternative ways of transportation, you might decide to walk or maybe cycle to nearby destinations. These are great ways of incorporating exercise into your lifestyle, thereby reducing health risks.
Increase safety on the roads – Another benefit of not driving is ensuring increased safety on the roads. You greatly reduce the chances of a crash and keep the road safe for you and for other users.
Are you ready to give up your keys? How did you make the transition?
The internet has opened up huge avenues for information and commerce. The online world has endless marketplaces, databases, and communication possibilities. That openness has been, in many ways, a precious gift for aging populations, enabling senior citizens to do research, keep up with the news, and stay connected with friends and family in remote places.
Unfortunately, the same freedom that allows for an older adult to speak with his old baseball buddy overseas with the push of button also allows him to get preyed upon by eastern European cybercriminals. One click gets you the answers to the Sunday crossword puzzle, another click transfers the contents of your life savings to a teenager in St. Petersburg. Here are a few common tricks used by by internet charlatans trying to bilk senior citizens out of their hard-earned dough.
Scammers frequently fleece the elderly by claiming to be someone other than who they are via email. Common tricks include claiming to be a medicare agent, the IRS, or a falsely imprisoned member of Nigerian royalty. This scam is so effective because it elicits the happy cooperation of the victim. Instead of mugging you at knifepoint, the scammer talks you into simply handing it over. By the time you realize you’ve been duped, it’s way too late; someone somewhere’s got your money, and only thing you know about them is that they sent you an email claiming to want to help you out.
It’s not just new technologies such as email that enable frauds to slip their paws into your pocketbook. Good old telephones still serve as a useful tool for these morally moribund thieves. The technology may be different, but the scam is much the same. Scammers make false claims, get seniors to hand over their personal information, and voila! The thieves hold the keys to the city.
Some telemarketers pose special problems to seniors due to their similarity to legitimate salesmen. Many may actually be actual business owners who realize they’ve got an easy sell and step up their pushiness. But most cases of fraud by telemarketers involved actual criminals who set out specifically to prey on vulnerable populations. According to fraud.org, people 60 years and older make up nearly a full third of all telemarketing scam victims.
Seniors often have a complex med regimen. Scammers know this. They also know that seniors frequently have lots of money, may be in the process of cognitive decline, and were likely raised to be trusting, faithful citizens. They sell fake or stolen meds to elderly adults. Easy money. This fraud can take place by any of the previously mentioned methods: mail, email, telephone. It makes no difference. This trick can come at you from any direction.
What You Can Do
Keep in mind, if something seems too outlandish, or too good, to be true, it probably is. Very few people win the lottery. Sensitive medicaid issues will not be dealt with via email. Pharmacists will be upfront about costs and med updates.
Be vigilant. Keep these scams in mind. If something seems suspicious, speak with someone. You could help take down a predator.
Late last month, Uber announced a new plan to offer driving jobs for many older adults. This is in partnership with Life Reimagined, a subsidiary of AARP. They have not established a number of positions they plan to open, but press releases have made reference to extending opportunities for “millions of people [to] earn additional income as driver-partners on the Uber platform.”
What does this mean for aging adults? Does this move signal progress and jobs for a vulnerable and neglected population? Is this opportunistic PR for a company with a poor public image? Will America’s aging population embrace this offer, seeing in it a valuable and trusted role to help folks get around? Or will it reject the idea as demeaning and exploitative? Here’s a guide to help you navigate this new move.
Uber and Its Motives
Uber is a service which provides rides for its customers using a smartphone app which finds part-time drivers. Think of it as an informal taxi service. With this plan, registered semi-retired adults could sign up to make themselves available to give rides to people for a small fee.
As a company, Uber is trying to nicen up its image. The ride-sharing company was hit with many controversies in the last few years, making it and its much-touted “sharing economy” look a little dodgy and cutthroat. By partnering with a nonprofit AARP subsidiary, Uber’s may be hoping to make itself look generous and noble in the country’s eyes. Whether retired persons take this as complimentary or condescending remains to be seen.
AARP and Life Reimagined’s Role
Life Reimagined is a nonprofit subsidiary of AARP. Their goal in this is help get work for aging Americans. Uber is a modern, innovative company, and many of AARP’s members may be excited to participate in a new business model, as well as demonstrate their technological skills. Life Reimagined also grants the program credibility, ensuring that AARP has its eye on Uber and trusts them to function ethically.
Job Outlooks for the Elderly
For someone over the age of 50, getting a good job is difficult. Unemployment remains high, and many skilled workers are forced to take menial jobs making very little money. Employers often favor young, technically savvy workers, and ignore very good candidates simply due to their age.
This initiative by Uber and Life Reimagined could mean many, many jobs for people over 50, and could give technology-inclined older adults a chance to strut their stuff. This could provide a double advantage: income, and stereotype shattering. Both would be of significant benefit to AARP’s members.
The big question: will AARP members go for it? Will they see this as a great opportunity to get out, make some money, and show off their ability to adapt to the changing modern work world? Or will they scorn this move as taking advantage of the fact that it’s difficult to find good work? Uber provides a living wage, but a driver’s salary comes nowhere near the six figures many out-of-work AARP members are accustomed to. While the answers are uncertain, AARP’s presence is a good sign; their involvement will grant credibility for Uber, and will ensure its new employees have a powerful advocate on their side.
Senior citizens have earned the right to live how they choose, where they choose, and in many cases, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not a welcome option. Aging bodies and failing health can make independent living more difficult as time goes by. Fortunately, technology is available to help the elderly maintain their independence and remain longer in their homes.
Hardware for Senior Citizens
- Wireless tracking system with sensors that lets a remote caregiver track an elderly person’s activities and check on the elder at any time using a secure webpage. The system will alert caregivers of any disruptions by text, phone, or email.
- GPS mobile personal emergency response system that allows the user to summon emergency assistance by simply pushing a button. The system consists of a base station, a mobile unit, and a button worn as a pendant or on the wrist. A push of the button connects the user to a mobile help operator who can send help to the correct location even if the user is unable to communicate.
- Medication management system that dispenses meds, reminds the user to take them, keeps an inventory, and alerts and posts compliance information, which is accessible through any device with internet capability. Medications can be inserted into the unit by a pharmacy or the caregiver.
- Wireless activity tracker to help senior citizens lead healthier lives. It tracks calories burned, distance traveled, steps taken, stairs climbed, and quality of sleep.
- TV ears that enable elderly people with hearing loss to hear TV without turning up the volume. Users can set their own tone and volume without affecting others. The device reduces background noise and increases clarity and word discrimination.
Software for the Elderly
Apps can make life easier, and a number of apps are designed especially for senior citizens. A Senior Net blog lists a number of iPhone or iPad apps helpful for seniors:
- Pillboxie reminds seniors to take their medications, and equally important, tells them which medication to take and when.
- Eyereade allows the user turn the phone into a magnifying glass with a light to brighten the text.
- Luminosity helps users of any age sharpen their minds with games designed by neuroscientists to enhance attention, memory, and other mental skills.
- Skype lets seniors view friends and family while talking to them in video conferences.
- Park’n’Forget lets you punch in the level, aisle, or spot where you parked to help you find your car.
Even the slightest of injuries can drastically change the health and overall well-being of a senior. Some injuries may require modifications throughout the home while more severe injuries may lead to drastic, life changing events such as assisted living or elder care facilities. Fortunately, with today’s technologies and resources, seniors are able to live more safely in their own homes.
At Elderly Safety, our experts research and recommend products that can be implemented into a preventative care plan within the home. Preventing the slip or fall is easier and less costly than facing the physical, emotional, and financial distress of a life altering injury.
Whether you are an active senior who goes to the gym a few times a week or have become less mobile due to health issues, we suggest that seniors consider installing or using the following items in their home to decrease the likelihood of a preventable injury and improve their overall safety and well-being.
Rollators or rolling walkers are widely used by people of all ages and abilities and are especially useful in fall prevention. Rollators, unlike the standard non-wheeled walker, is easier to use for people who have difficulty in lifting or have limited mobility or strength and operate well on uneven terrain. Seniors may experience additional benefits from using a rollator:
- Increased independence in daily tasks, including errands or light housework
- Is a helpful and safe tool in rebuilding strength and mobility after a slip, fall, injury or surgical procedure
Safety Door Locks
A locked door can be the one thing that keeps your loved one from receiving a severe injury or becoming lost. Seniors, who suffer from memory loss issues such as Alzheimer’s, are vulnerable to “outdoor dangers” such as harsh climates or every day hazards. A safety door lock is often electronic and a code is programmed into a keypad. A caregiver can lock the door, attend to other tasks in the home and not worry about their loved one leaving the security of their home.
Anti-Slip Shower Mat
Any room in the home can be hazardous to an unsteady senior, but a bathroom can be one of the most dangerous places for an elder of any ability. A shower’s surfaces can become slick with even the smallest amount of soap residue, but seniors with balance or mobility issues are more likely to slip in the shower and less likely to get up without help. Anti-slip shower mats offer resistance and can decrease the chance of slipping and falling. Elderly Safety has some tips when searching for the right anti-slip mat:
- Measure your shower or bathtub for a good fitting mat. Too big or too small can increase hazards, such as tripping or slipping.
- Make sure the suction/attachment is strong and secure. Don’t use the mat until it’s firmly in place.
- Keep your mat clean and dry as excess buildup or water can make it unsafe.
Grab Bar for Tubs & Showers
An additional safety feature, great for any bathroom, is a grab bar in the tub or shower. While anti-slip mats can reduce the likelihood of slipping and falling in the bathtub or shower, a grab bar is a safety feature that can increase independence and a sense of security in any senior’s life. Installing a grab bar in a tub and/or shower can make entering and exiting the bathing area less dangerous and scary.