For some time now, organizations and institutions - like Aging Resources of Douglas County - that serve older adults have been examining with the issue of social isolation.
In recent years, social isolation has gained recognition as a public health concern. We know that social connection improves our sense of well-being and is linked to both maintained cognitive function and improved health outcomes. Studies consistently demonstrate that, conversely, the negative ramifications of social isolation are comparable to the health risks associated with high blood pressure, physical inactivity, and smoking. One study by the A.A.R.P. and Stanford University has found that social isolation adds nearly 7 billion dollars a year to the total cost of Medicare.
The pandemic has complicated this already tricky situation, giving rise to a problem called the COVID-19 Social Connectivity Paradox. The idea is that the same actions and strategies that folks have undertaken to reduce the risks of COVID-19 exposure – staying at home, physical distancing, etc. – simultaneously increase the risk of social isolation and disconnectedness.
So, what’s to be done? Members of the social services network supporting older adults are experimenting with a variety of innovative solutions and technologies to help mitigate social isolation. In some states, aging departments have distributed “Joy for All” robot pets. These cuddly companions are making a difference – a study last year found that older adults who engaged with their new pet for two months reported feeling a greater sense of purpose and more optimistic. Other social robots being tested with older adults include EllieQ and Jibo. You can read more about those in this interesting article from the New Yorker.
Here at Aging Resources, we’re trying out new programs, too. We continue to explore how to best fit our companionship services to the present moment and to your needs. We now offer hybrid companionship programming. If you and your companion are both vaccinated and are comfortable meeting in person, great! If a more virtual model seems better right now, we’re more than happy to provide you with a device that allows you to connect with your companion, family, and friends remotely. We’ll also provide personalized training to make sure you’re getting the most out of your device. Technology training is also available from our good friends at Douglas County Libraries.
We want to hear from you. What strategies do you use to deal with loneliness? Have you found any technologies especially useful? Is there more that we could be doing to help older adults stay connected and socially engaged? Share your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading!
Engelhart, Katie. “What Robots Can—and Can’t—Do for the Old and Lonely,” The New Yorker, May 24, 2021.
Smith, Matthew, Steinman, Lesley, and Casey, E.A. “Combatting Social Isolation Among Older Adults in a Time of Physical Distancing: The COVID-19 Social Connectivity Paradox,” Frontiers in Public Health, 8.403.
We continue our Share Your Story series with a conversation with supporter Paula Conger. Paula and her husband Jeremy recently became the first individual donors to top $100,000 in giving to Aging Resources - we could not be more grateful for their extraordinary support. Recently, we sat down with Paula to discuss her connection to the organization, the future of Aging Resources, and the challenges and opportunities facing today's (and tomorrow's) older adults.
Aging Resources (AR): How did your relationship with Aging Resources start?
Paula Conger (PC): I was looking for a volunteer opportunity and I want to say it was nine years ago that I found [Aging Resources Executive Director] Karie, when she was still in an office that only had 2 cubicles. Over time, we kept brainstorming, and networking, and finding that we needed to recruit more volunteers. We were soon getting so many clients that the organization needed to hire more staff and from then on it grew exponentially.
AR: What attracted you to Aging Resources’ mission in the first place?
PC: I’ve always had a heart for seniors, I just feel called to help them in any way I can. And then I met Karie, and she’s exactly the same, and then we met other volunteers, and it just built upon itself.
AR: What made you decide to make your first gift to the organization?
PC: That was a no brainer. My husband and I feel called to give – the first year when it was time to decide where our giving would go, it was immediately apparent to us that so much good could be done with our gift to Neighbor Network.
We know that the organization spends the money wisely - Karie and the staff are so resourceful. We feel like every penny we give is stretched as far as it can go. When I started, Aging Resources didn’t have even a single vehicle, and now there’s a fleet! The staff and volunteer growth – that’s just been thrilling to see.
AR: What motivates you to stay involved?
PC: Selfishly, I get a lot of joy out of it. I’ve heard a saying that if you do all you can to bring others happiness, you will be the happiest person you can be. That is so appropriate to Neighbor Network. The more we give, the more we get back, in spades. It’s not our goal to get back, but we do. It really makes our hearts feel good.
AR: Is there an aspect of our programming that you particularly connect with?
PC: Well, I’m in a unique position in that I am a client of Neighbor Network. I have to use oxygen, I have to use a wheelchair outside the home, so for many years people have been helping me with rides to doctor’s appointments or to special appointments and activities. I also have had the unique opportunity to serve as a volunteer, as well – like when I served as the organization’s board chair. It’s just such a worthy cause.
AR: What excites you about the organization’s future?
PC: The fact that there’s a Parker office – I can envision that Parker will need everything the Castle Rock office has. And who knows where else – what other locations might be needed.
And then there’s the potential kitchen and meal delivery project. Well, cooking meals for myself can be a challenge – I’d love to see some good meals come out of an Aging Resources Kitchen.
AR: If you could send a message to other Aging Resources supporters, what would you say?
PC: They say it takes a village to raise a child. But it takes a community of caring volunteers and advocates to give older adults the life that they deserve, that they’ve earned. We all have a responsibility to do so, because they’ve given their lives for all of us.
AR: Is there anything you wish everyone knew about AR or the older adult population?
PC: I wish everyone knew how rapidly our country is aging – the statistics bear out that we’re all going to need an Aging Resources before we know it. And one thing that I want to point out is that the pandemic really brought this to the fore – older adults without resources can struggle with “failure to thrive” – being isolated, without socialization, with unmet needs – this can be fatal. The pandemic brought into the open just how much our seniors need us, and how much we miss them, as well. We miss the love and joy and laughter of our parents and elderly friends and family.
I love to the see the videos where grandparents finally get to see their grandchildren after a year, a year and half – that seems to bring so much joy to everyone. If we could bottle that up, I think that could change the world.
AR: Thank you so much. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
PC: There’s such a dynamic group of people now at Aging Resources that I can see endless opportunities for it to grow. Everyone is gifted in a particular way that just makes them perfectly suited for the tasks they’re doing. They all seem so kind and warm – I bet the older adults love them.
As part of our Share Your Story series, we’d like you to meet Bill Monroe, Aging Resources volunteer! Bill has been part of our amazing volunteer team since April 2019. Whether driving the Aging Resources van or delivering food boxes during pandemic stay-at-home orders, Bill truly exemplifies dedication to our mission and we couldn’t be more grateful to have him on our volunteer team. We hope you enjoy Bill’s story as much as we do.
Aging Resources (AR): What’s your why? Everyone has a reason why they choose to give back to their community and volunteer. Tell us why you chose to become a volunteer for Aging Resources!
Bill Monroe (BM): I retired in 2019 and needed some activities to take the place of work. I had always done some volunteering even when working. Driving for Aging Resources allowed me to give some of my time while at the same time providing the flexibility to keep my schedule of travel and other activities.
AR: What keeps you coming back as a volunteer with Aging Resources?
BM: Primarily it's because I enjoy the clients I provide rides for. I've got some regulars on Monday and Friday and occasionally I take others during the week. The clients are all very appreciative and I enjoy hearing their stories. The staff at Aging Resources is also very helpful and friendly.
AR: Did you have a role model growing up?
BM: I'd have to say that both of my parents were my role models. They both worked hard, provided well for the family and emphasized the value of a good education. It paid off for me because I had a rewarding 45-year career in the retail petroleum business and have a great family including my wife, Cindy, two sons, their wives and a grandchild. I also have another grandchild due in early July in Singapore.
AR: Do you have any hobbies?
BM: My primary hobbies are athletic. I like to play pickleball and I ride my bike a lot. I will do at least 200 miles during most months. I have a four-day mountain bike trip planned for early October at Bears Ears National Monument near Moab, Utah. I'd like to continue all this as long as I am able.
AR: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
BM: I'd like to be able to fly and not in a plane. That would make travel much easier.
AR: What is one thing you have yet to cross off your bucket list?
BM: I'd really like to tour Europe. We've been there a couple of times on cruises, but I'd really like to see more of the countries and spend more time there.
AR: What’s the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
BM: Travel more. The world is full of interesting people, places and experiences. I've been to all 50 states in the U.S., but the rest of the world has a lot to offer. This is a picture [above] of me and my pilot Jorge on my gyroplane trip in Costa Rica last January.
In honor of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, we thought we’d share some common tips and tricks to improve your body and your mind. Studies persistently demonstrate that adopting these key lifestyle habits can help reduce older adults’ risk of cognitive decline. It’s never too late to make a change and start including these activities in your daily routine!
Sources: CDC; National Institute on Aging; Alzheimer’s Association
We’re excited to unveil our new Share your Story series. In it, we’ll be interviewing the members, volunteers, and staff who make every day at Aging Resources so special. For our first feature, we spoke with member Dee Myslik. Dee is a true example of grace, elegance, and good cheer, and we feel sure you’ll enjoy the conversation as much as we did. Read on!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Aging Resources: Did you have a role model growing up?
Dee Myslik: I guess my mom – she was such a strong, resilient lady. I lost my dad when I was only 12, and she was amazing helping us through that. He had his own business, and she had to dispose of that and go back to work herself. After I was married, she got to enjoy our three boys, and she always craved a granddaughter. By the time I was pregnant with our daughter – we lived in Connecticut at the time - she was terminally ill, but she got to spend several months with our daughter, and I’m grateful for that. All through her illness, she never complained – she was just like that.
AR: Do you have any hobbies?
DM: I love to read - I'm an avid reader. I also like to keep in touch with people from my past. I have two friends that I started high school with, and I’m still in touch with them and enjoy their friendship. I’m a people person; my working years were spent working with people and I still enjoy that, either on email or by phone.
AR: Do you have a favorite book, or a favorite author?
DM: I love mysteries - James Patterson and David Rosenfelt – he’s a dog person, and I love dogs. I've read all of Patterson's Women's Murder Club, and I'm waiting for the next one to come out now. I have a tablet, and I use that to listen to audiobooks, and a Kindle as well.
AR: Do you have a favorite musical artist or type of music you prefer?
DM: I have to say, I don’t care for most contemporary music. My favorites are the big band era. My husband and I used to dance a lot to that music. I still like to hear it, although there’s some that makes me sad, too. I do also love piano music.
AR: Do you have a favorite movie or television show?
DM: I’m not much of a movie person. I’m really hooked on the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Mysteries. In particular, I love the Christmas movies on Hallmark - I can watch those year-round. When we went into lockdown, that was a bit disconcerting for me – I found the news concerning, and so I started watching more of the programming on Hallmark and I found that soothing.
Oh, I also love Blue Bloods on Friday evenings – it pains me to miss that!
AR: What’s your favorite cuisine or meal?
DM: I love Italian food, and I’m learning to like Mediterranean. And I love seafood.
AR: What’s your dream travel destination?
DM: My husband and I had the pleasure of going to Oahu and enjoyed it thoroughly. Many years ago, we went to St Croix and loved every single minute of it. It was heaven on earth – I had never seen water that color blue before – it was like something out of a painting. Yes, I would say St. Croix.
AR: Do you have dream time travel destination?
DM: Wherever we went in my twenties and thirties, I’d like to go back there. I was as healthy as anyone could be and as active as anyone could be. I loved traveling with my husband and my four children.
AR: Do you have a favorite season?
DM: Spring, for the simple reason that you look around and everything is starting to be new again. I was just looking at the tree in my backyard, and every day it's getting fuller and greener. Spring holds the promise that things are going to get better.
AR: How long have you been a member of ARDC? Do you have a special story about ARDC you’d like to share?
DM: However long it’s been, they’ve been some of the best years. They have provided transportation for my husband and me since I was unable to drive. I have never found anyone more dedicated to helping me in whatever way they can. Kevin and Jeffrey are my lifeline to wherever I need to go. Kevin and I have become really very good friends. We have wonderful discussions – he’s fun to be with. When he brings me home, he always checks my mail – I appreciate that.
I’ve really enjoyed the barbeques, as well. I’ve gotten to meet many volunteers, clients, and staff. As I say, they have been really good years.
The entire point of technology is to make life better in some way, whether that be by making a better mousetrap, a more efficient clothes dryer, or a more reliable automobile.
The technology that powers the small, mobile device in your pocket can significantly improve the quality of life for many seniors.
When it comes to apps that can be used on a smartphone, tablet, or other device, there’s a lot to choose from. It’s all about knowing which app you need, and which ones provide the most value.
Aging Resources of Douglas County has searched far and wide for the best senior-friendly apps that can help aging individuals get more out of life, stay independent, and just live better lives.
Here are seven of our absolute favorites!
[Note: Remember that some apps are free, while many are not. Be sure to check to see if any of the apps you’re interested in cost money to use or not.]
App #1: Find My iPhone
Find My iPhone is a free app that can be installed on any modern iPhone. The point of this app is to help you find your iPhone if ever gets stolen or comes up missing.
Here’s how it works:
We especially love this app because it costs nothing, and it’s exceptionally easy to use.
App #2: Life360
Life360 is a free app that works on all iOS devices, like an iPhone. This app gives you real-time location information on the whereabouts of the people in your life—grandkids, neighbors, friends, whomever!
All they have to do is install Life360 on their devices, and then share their location activity with you from within the app. It’s easy!
App #3: Skype
An alternative to FaceTime, Skype is a great option for those who have a Microsoft account. You can install Skype on virtually any mobile device, and it has a handy video chat feature which uses your devices built-in camera to live stream a video of you while you speak!
You can even place international phone calls using Skype, for a small fee.
App #4: Red Panic Button
Sometimes, a slip and fall or other emergency can happen seemingly out of nowhere. For seniors who want to be able to immediately signal for help during these situations, the Red Panic Button app is a godsend.
This app sends an emergency alert text to all of the people you program into it, the moment you hit the red panic button.
App #5: WordBrain
One of the best ways to stay sharp is to exercise your brain with a puzzle game. WordBrain is a fun, easy-to-play word game app that is completely free to use.
Seniors love it because it’s easy to read, engaging, and you can even play with friends!
App #6: Netflix
What if you could watch your favorite shows and movies, including classics from years ago, all on your iPhone or Android phone? You can with Netflix, an incredibly popular app that live streams movies and TV shows directly to your mobile device.
Netflix is free to download and install, however it requires a paid subscription of roughly $10 a month in order to view the entire library of content.
For seniors, Netflix is a great app due to its easy-to-use interface and easy search function. An alternative to Netflix is the YouTube app, which does not require a subscription to use. With the YouTube app, you can view all of the YouTube videos you might normally watch on your computer, but on your mobile phone, instead!
App #7: Castro
For just $3.99, you can install the Castro app on your iPhone. This app is a no-nonsense podcasting app that brings you fresh content from multiple outlets including NPR and the BBC. Just open the app, select a podcast, and then sit back and relax!
The above-listed apps are great for seniors, and all of them are easy to use. Is there an app that you love, that we didn’t include on this list? Let us know! We’re always interested in helping seniors in Douglas County get more out of the technology in their lives.
Thanks for reading!
The holidays are officially in full swing! It’s time for merriment, quality time with family and friends, and fun activities that we can all enjoy—especially seniors.
This holiday season, Aging Resources of Douglas County wants to help make this year one to remember. In that effort, we’re offering up these five ideas for things seniors can do to get the most out of the ‘most wonderful time of the year’.
Activity #1: Holiday Arts and Crafts
There’s no stopping you when you’re armed with a colorful stack of construction paper, some sharp scissors, and a little creativity! The possibilities for creating something fun and festive are endless; here are some great crafting ideas to get you started:
Activity #2: Sing Holiday Songs
When you’re ready to really ramp up the holiday spirit, why not break out in song? Holiday classics are always in season after Thanksgiving, so get some hot apple cider to whet your whistle, and organize a singing session with the entire family.
Choose from timeless classics like those on this YouTube playlist, including such unforgettable tunes as:
Singing Christmas songs are a fantastic way to recollect those great holiday memories from times gone by.
Activity #3: Check Out Local Light Displays
The Denver Parade of Lights is always a great time, and seniors can relax by sitting in the grandstand sections. Tickets for these seats are reasonable, too—often costing less than $20 each.
Also, the Denver Zoo runs an ongoing holiday lights event that is well worth visiting. Tickets for this fun event range from $15-$20 per person.
And then, there is always the option of driving around suburban neighborhoods near you, admiring the handiwork of those who’ve toiled so hard to transform their homes into lit-up works of art!
Activity #4: Watch a Classic Holiday Movie
Holiday Movie Night is a surefire way to share the joy of the season. Have a chuckle or two watching the eponymous movie, “A Christmas Story”, or relive holidays past by running a screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, with James Stewart and Donna Reed.
Need more movie ideas? Here’s a big list of some of the best movies to watch this holiday season. Grab some popcorn, corral the grandkids, and settle in for an evening of laughs and good times.
Activity #5: Have a Card-Writing Party
Thoughtful, hand-written holiday greeting cards are a real treasure these days, especially when so much of our communication has moved towards electronic forms. This holiday activity idea is simple, affordable, and a ton of fun!
And remember, you don’t have to rush out to your local Hallmark store and spend a lot of money to do a great job with holiday cards this season. Start with the basics—some plain white paper and a few colored pencils—and create whatever you feel. There are no rules, and sometimes, the best holiday cards are the ones that are made personally, with the sender’s authenticity and uniqueness baked right in.
What other fun, festive holiday activities can you think of? Let us know!
Most Importantly: Enjoy Life!
At Aging Resources of Douglas County, we’re passionate about empowering seniors to live their best lives. This holiday season, take some time out with the senior in your life, and spend some of your holiday season appreciating them as they continue to add more and more value and character to your life every day.
Seniors love being included in holiday activities. Hopefully, this list of holiday activity ideas gives you some food for thought as you go about planning festivities with friends and family. Have a great holiday season this year, and we’ll see you in 2020!
That senior in your life can sometimes be difficult to shop for, especially when a birthday or other special occasion is around the corner.
What do you get the senior who has it all? Or if they don’t necessarily have it all, what can you get them that you can feel assured they’ll love?
Today’s seniors are much more keyed into technology and consumer devices than many of us might give them credit for. And, there’s a lot of value that can be realized by giving a gift that is not only easy to use, but also provides some kind of enhancement to quality of life.
The following five gifts represent just a sample of some of the best gifts for seniors. Read on and see why!
Gift #1: A Shiatsu-Style Neck Massager
Ahh...to come home and relax with a nice massage. Wouldn’t it be great if that could happen every day, without having to pay for a masseuse? Now it can, with a handy, portable massager pillow that seniors will love.
This electronic pillow uses specially designed massage knobs located just below the surface of the pillow to gently knead and massage those sore neck muscles. It’s small enough to be taken virtually anywhere, and it conveniently plugs into any 120V outlet for easy operation.
The easy-to-locate on/off button is a cinch to operate, and the exterior fabric is composed of durable materials that should last for years.
Gift #2: A Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock
Gone are the days of having to wake up to the abrasive, jarring “ANG ANG ANG” sound of a traditional alarm clock. This wake-up light alarm clock from Phillips has been clinically proven to improve sleep, energy, and well-being, and it accomplishes this by slowly increasing the brightness of the light it shines at a set time of the day.
So, instead of being jilted out of bed with a loud racket, seniors can be gracefully lifted from their sleep with a gentle, natural glow.
This light-up alarm clock includes a snooze feature and 10 different brightness settings that can be adjusted for just the right amount of light.
Gift #3: A Voice Recognition Memo Machine
If there’s one thing seniors love, it’s something that makes home life easier. This product fits the bill, as it allows the user to create shopping lists and other memos using just their voice!
Just push the ‘record’ button, say the items that are needed from the grocery store, and the voice recognition memo machine prints out a handy list. There’s even a kitchen timer built into it, and up to two lists can be saved at any given time.
This gift is especially helpful for seniors who struggle with memory or cognitive issues, and the printed-out grocery list can easily be tucked into a purse or pocket before heading out to go to the store.
Gift #4: A Digital Photo Frame
The only thing better than wonderful pictures of friends and family is a single photo frame that can show them all in one place!
This digital photo frame isn’t like the rest, however. It features a built-in speaker, alarm function, and even storage capacity large enough to display thousands of high-resolution images! Add to this the fact that this digital photo frame automatically turns itself off when no motion is detected, and you’ve got a top contender for the best gift for the senior in your life.
The best part about getting your senior a digital photo frame is that they’ll think of you every time they look at it.
Gift #5: A Smart Thermostat
The Nest wifi-enabled smart thermostat is the single most useful device for those who want to be able to adjust their indoor temperature from the comfort of their smartphone. This amazing little device connects to in-home wifi so the user can easily access temperature controls using the Nest app on their phone.
Powered by Google, the entire system can be set up and running in minutes. With energy saving features like automatic heat and A/C operation, the Nest Smart Thermostat is both easy to use and a great money saver.
With a little creativity and some “smart” thinking, you can get a great gift for whichever senior has a celebratory event coming up. Whether it be Christmas, a birthday, or something else entirely, choosing one of the gifts on this list is a sure way to surprise and impress. Happy gift giving from your friends at Aging Resources of Douglas County!
The internet. Ipads. Flat-screen televisions. Electric vehicles.
Technology has improved so much that everywhere we look, there are signs that the world is a very, very different place than it was just 30 or 40 years ago. Advancements in the treatment of chronic illnesses have also made it so that life can be lived longer, and it also means that people can have more of the meaningful, fulfilling experiences they desire to have as they get older.
It’s clear that technology for aging populations will continue to be a part of all of our lives. We’re seeing it already with companies like Uber and Lyft using their ridesharing platforms to provide seniors with easier, more accessible transportation.
And, companies like Samsung and Google have released smartphones with large, easy-to-read screens seniors love. These devices are helping aging people stay connected with their loved ones, keeping their social lives vibrant and their involvement with family consistent and reliable.
But, did you know that there are even more ways that modern technology is empowering the aging population? Below are three amazing examples of how the ‘smart’ products of today are helping to make seniors’ lives better in many ways.
#1: Discrete, Real-Time Monitoring
What if a single system could monitor the activity of a retirement home resident, down to their location, the amount of time that has passed since their last trip to the bathroom, and many other metrics? Thanks to the Elsi Smart Floor, all of this is possible.
It works like this: a network of pressure-sensitive floor tiles are installed into the living area of the senior. These floor tiles sense the activity of the senior, and if there is ever a fall, the abrupt change in pressure on the floor tiles signals an alarm. This alarm can be sent directly to the medical staff on-hand so that prompt medical aid can be delivered quickly if needed.
Smart Floors are often integrated with other technologies to provide caregivers with a much clearer picture of exactly where their patients are and how they’re doing.
Even though these smart floors are mostly installed into places like hospices and retirement homes, they are available for individual residences.
#2: Smart Locks
One of the most common frustrations for many seniors is remembering where they put their keys. And, for those with arthritis or other inflammatory diseases, actually operating a deadbolt or other door lock can be a trying process. That’s why smart locks are becoming so popular for seniors.
These modern feats of engineering work just like traditional door locks, but they use a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone in order to operate. So, instead of needing a physical key to open a door, a tap on a phone screen is all that is required to lock or unlock any door.
Igloo Home, one of the up-and-coming manufacturers of smart locks, is poised to be a go-to resource for seniors as they explore the idea of nixing their keys and using their smartphones as a way to get in and out of their homes, instead.
#3: Voice Activation and Artificial Intelligence
Have you heard someone use the phrase “Hey, Siri”, recently? If so, you already know the basics of how voice activation and artificial intelligence work.
Voice-activated computers aren’t necessarily new. The earliest example of voice recognition technology dates back to at least the 1950’s. But, today, using your voice to control your environment is becoming more and more plausible for seniors in specific.
Why? Well, anything that reduces the amount of physical activity required to get something done is going to benefit the life of someone living in a retirement home or in hospice. So, if the temperature of a room could be changed by simply saying, “Turn on the heat”, instead of requiring a trip to the thermostat to make an adjustment, the benefit is huge for the senior.
Voice recognition and artificial intelligence can also be used to operate household appliances and even to order groceries when supplies are low.
When you add up the many benefits that are afforded to seniors by the above-listed technologies, the future looks pretty good! As we all age, it will be interesting to see what other technological developments will make our lives easier.
Although technological advancements will continue to help the aging population, we believe there is no substitute for an actual human helping hand. Our volunteer programs help connect seniors with the assistance they need.
What technologies would you like to see come to fruition? Comment and let us know!
It’s probably not surprising to hear that, on average, humans are living longer now than they ever have throughout recorded history. This continuing trend of increased life expectancy has been a part of modern life for at least the past 75 years, which leads many to ask the question, “What does the future of longer living look like?
In this week’s blog post, Aging Resources of Douglas County is offering up some things to consider when thinking about life expectancy in the future. While no one has a crystal ball they can use to see into the future, there are some exciting technological developments that very well may contribute to an ever-increasing human life expectancy.
Survival vs. Living Healthier
Before we dive into what science is doing today to help us live longer tomorrow, let’s look at the many reasons why we’re doing so well as it is.
If we look back to where humanity was just 200 years ago, we find a very different picture of human mortality rates compared to where we are today. For example, if you were five years old in 1841, you were only expected to live to be about 55 years old. Why?
The most explanatory answers are vaccination, improved civil hygiene, and more ready access to medicine and medical services.
Vaccination can be said to be the single most important reason why diseases like measles, Rubella, and polio haven’t been killing millions of young children every year for the past hundred or so years. Because vaccinations actually prevent the onset of devastating illnesses, young children stand a much higher chance of achieving their longest life expectancy.
Remember that lifespan and life expectancy are two totally different data points. When children get vaccinated, their lifespan averages only increase when they continue to live longer lives. Life expectancy, however, for all of them improves immediately upon vaccination.
We take for granted things like running water, industrial air filters, and antiseptic cleaners like Purell. They’re all around us, and they’re just part of our everyday lives. 200 years ago, however, this was not the case. The proliferation of disease-causing germs significantly contributed to the spread of fatal illnesses, especially in areas of dense human population.
Today, because we understand so much about Germ Theory, we’re able to avoid an early end to our lives at the hands of devastating infections and viruses.
Access to Medicine
Our infrastructure dedicated to rapidly responding to medical emergencies has meant that those who need critical medical attention can actually get it. Especially in the United States, most people know that if something happens that seriously harms or disables them, they can call an ambulance using 911, and within a few minutes, a medical team will arrive to assist them.
What’s more, the tools, techniques, medicines, and healing modalities have improved across the board, resulting in better diagnoses for whatever ailments humans present at the emergency room.
What Does the Future Hold for Aging?
For all of us, there is a genetically encoded length of our lives. The ways that our bodies break down over time are most would agree, unavoidable if given enough time. Things like cancer and heart disease will, at least for the foreseeable future, continue to cause ‘natural’ deaths for human beings based on their nature and what we know about how these diseases manifest.
With as many impressive technologies that exist today—things like the internet, Maglev trains, and Artificial Intelligence—one might think that science has a lot in store for us in the aging department. So, are scientists ready to start giving us super pills that make us live to 500 years old? Not quite.
Instead, what modern scientists and healthcare professionals are suggesting for a longer life is a lot of what we’ve already been hearing for the past 50 or so years. As it turns out, these three categories continue to be most important when determining how long we’ll live:
So, it’s best not to hold out for some marvel of medicine that is going to make us live forever. Instead, you have a better shot at living longer by saying no to the pizza, taking walks regularly, and watching your weight.
Although these lifestyle choices can add years to your life, there will eventually come a time where you'll need the assistance of others. When that time comes, contact Aging Resources of Douglas County to help get you started.