Doris Bersing, PhD
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The Best Senior-Friendly Tech Tools to Keep You Engaged in the World

Now more than ever before, it’s important for seniors to connect with their loved ones and engage in the world around them — even if they’re doing it from the safety of their homes. Senior isolation and loneliness are growing concerns amidst COVID-19, but tech devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, and e-readers give older adults a chance to stay in touch with the outside world and pursue their passions while staying safe at home. To explore some of the best tech tools for seniors, check out these suggestions.

Smartphones, Laptops, and Tablets

Among some of the most common senior-friendly tech devices are smartphones, laptops, and tablets. These devices can help seniors connect with their loved ones, learn new skills and hobbies, get help in an emergency, pursue passions, and experience a better quality of life overall. Here’s what makes technology so great, especially in the age of COVID-19:

  • Video chatting. Seniors can use smartphones, tablets, and laptops with built-in webcams to video chat with loved ones via popular apps such as Zoom or Skype. According to Lifehacker, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Lite, and WhatsApp are some of the simplest video chat apps for seniors.
  • Calling, texting, emailing, and sending photos. Seniors can use their smartphones to send and receive phone calls, text messages, emails, and photos. Plus, they can access a variety of mobile apps such as MedWatcher, Senior Phone, and Kindle.
  • Browsing the internet. Since laptops and tablets feature larger screens, these tech devices are perfect for visiting social media sites, playing online games, watching videos, and browsing the internet. Plus, seniors can join online communities and connect with other older adults from anywhere in the world.
  • Volunteering. Through AARP and other websites such as VolunteerMatch and DoSomething.org, seniors can find remote volunteer opportunities that allow them to pursue their passions from home.
  • Books, podcasts, and audiobooks. With their tech devices, seniors can listen to podcasts and audiobooks — and read electronic books, magazines, and newspapers.

Before accessing the internet, seniors need to have a plan in place for protecting themselves from identity theft and other types of suspicious activity. Check out Verizon’s tips and guides to learn all about identity theft protection, cybersecurity, and online safety.

Educational Apps and Websites

In addition to using their tablets, laptops, and smartphones to video chat with loved ones, browse the internet, and search for remote volunteer opportunities, seniors can continue their education with online courses, programs, and tutorials. It’s never too late to learn something new, and the internet makes learning easier than ever.

According to Helen Jarden of MoneyPantry, educational websites like Alison, Academic Earth, Coursera, Khan Academy, and Duolingo offer free online courses for seniors. Coursera, for instance, offers free courses on everything from psychology and marketing to nutrition and animal welfare. Seniors can also put their creative abilities to the test with free drawing and sketching classes. As another option for seniors: an abundance of free online tutorials and classes are available on YouTube, including those on knitting, calligraphy, yoga, dance, sewing, cooking, and more. Whatever their hobbies, skills, and passions may be, seniors can find everything they’re looking for online.

The Bottom Line

If you or your senior loved one is struggling physically or mentally amidst COVID-19, some other strategies can help. In addition to using technology to connect with others, exercising daily, eating nutritiously, and rekindling old hobbies and passions are some of the best ways seniors can improve mental and physical health.

With access to the internet, seniors can easily reconnect with their passions and learn new hobbies, which will help to keep their minds and bodies healthy, young, and happy as they grow older. And for more tips and resources that empower seniors to age well, connect with Doris Bersing for geriatric consultation. Schedule a counseling session today.


How to Find and Buy the Perfect Property for Homesteading as a Retiree

When you retire, you will have significantly more time on your hands. The big question is, how do you want to spend it? You can prepare to make the most of your newfound leisure time by moving to a larger property. With a bigger home, you can easily host children, grandkids, and friends at any time.

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, consider getting a more remote piece of real estate so you can pursue homesteading. Homesteading is all about self-sufficient living. With a bit of land, you can take up hobbies like raising chickens or cutting your own firewood. Spending more time outdoors will also preserve your health as you age, resulting in improved immune function, better sleep, and higher energy levels.

 Doris Bersing can help you figure out if the homesteading life is a good option for you. If you conclude that this is the route you want to take in retirement, you have to secure an appropriate piece of property. This guide explains how to find and buy a larger home as you prepare for retirement.

Define your ideal property.

Make a list of what you’re looking for in a house. If you’re going to be homesteading, you need to consider characteristics like land size, for example. When it comes to the actual house, consider how many rooms you’ll need to accommodate visiting family and what purposes those rooms should serve. For example, young grandkids might want a playroom. When buying a house you also have to think about your own needs, of course. Consider what you might need now and in the future. Seniors with limited mobility do better with single-story homes that don’t require them to use stairs, for example. Meanwhile, individuals with Alzheimer’s require safety precautions in the bathroom, such as grab bars.

Figure out your financial capacity.

Next, take stock of your financial situation. Keep in mind that to buy a home, you will likely have to take out a mortgage. In order to get a low-interest rate, most lenders require you to make a down payment of 20%. If you pay this minimum upfront, you also have the advantage of foregoing the cost of private mortgage insurance. If you have unpaid debts, getting a good mortgage interest rate may be challenging. Improve your odds of securing a favorable loan by quickly eliminating and paying down what you owe. Consult local debt relief and assistance resources. A debt relief expert can offer advice based on characteristics like how much you owe and your employment status.

Close the deal.

 If you do find the perfect property, you will likely have to move quickly to secure it. The real estate market is competitive and you don’t want to let a great opportunity slip through your fingers. In this case, it’s possible that you may have to buy your new property before you can sell your old one.

There are a few precautions you should take. Note that you can request an extended closing. This will buy you some extra time to unload your old home. If you’re struggling to sell your old house, enlist the help of a realtor. They can ensure a more streamlined process. Finally, you can consider renting out your old home until it sells.

Enlist assistance for the move.

 When the time comes to make your move, don’t go it alone. Moving is strenuous at any age and even more so for seniors. Hire professionals to handle the heavy lifting and avoid injury. You can also get a senior moving consultant to help. They will manage the entire process, taking you from A to B — old home to new home — in a streamlined and stress-free manner.

With the above tips, you can find the perfect property to spend your retirement. With effort and persistence, you’ll soon be settled in a new home where you can make the most of your golden years.

For more resources and inspiration on how to live the best life in your golden years, turn to geriatric consultant Doris Bersing. Schedule a consultation today.

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

Ageism and Sexism

We Need A New Paradigm for Old-er Women.

Ageism

I was stunned when Debbie—my 67-yer-old client, who has one Ph.D. in American history and a JD—told me that her contract as full-time faculty at a local law school had not been renewed. She is vivacious, energetic, intelligent, and adored by her students. I asked immediately, why? She has always told me she was on the “retire-at-85” plan and as far as I knew, Academia is supposed to be a world of respect and knowledge; a place where attaining knowledge and wisdom are regarded as the ultimate achievements. Nonetheless, Debbie told me she was forced into retirement! Debbie had spent 25 years of her life as a professor for several graduate and law schools, during which time she had received many awards for research and groundbreaking work. Now, she said “retirement has been forced on me, and my courses have been assigned to young-er faculty members, who are less expensive. For the first time, I have faced ageism as never before, and it is not a theoretical concept, anymore. It is real.” She, too, was shocked.

Yes indeed, ageism –although an old paradigm—is still in full force, current and pervasive permeating all layers of our society. Perhaps it is time to kick this new old paradigm with its ill-fated consequences for our society’s well-being to the curb and embrace a different more optimistic, engaging, and active paradigm of aging: one that does not fear aging but embrace it as a very meaningful and with a great potential phase of life.

Sexism

Like we did not have enough with the ageism in our culture, we also need to face Sexism.  The prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, against women, on the basis of sex, is a fact very well known on all fronts of society and affects women of all walks of life. Instances of sexism are experienced by our mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, and all women and girls around the world. It is one of those phenomena would like to have the exclusivity of it but it is not like that. It is pervasive and perverse all around the world.

Sexism is based on the prejudice and extensive generalization that there is something faulty in women and it continues to impede women from their rights to grow and thrive in our society. Perhaps we are not as pretty and firm as we were when young-er but seasoned –or spicy, hot women—had fought for equality, diversity, had raised their self-esteem, run for public office. They have shaved off their internalized ageism and are ready to venture into new characters, created new connections, and created a new wave of accomplished women who give us the inspiration we need to live as first-class citizens and make our golden years shine and count, and do what needs to be done.

Not all of us get to that place and nevertheless, it is worth trying. A place where we can branch out, revolt, or go quietly happily ever after about life. Whatever works for you do it with gusto! Let’s this new woman be at the top of the hill and not over the hill. She can change her image of a raggedy crone to the one of mentor. to be proud and loud.

As many of us who are undertaking the journey through the uncharted land, we become pioneers with no maps but following our moral compass to be the best we can be. Being the eternal optimistic and positive thinker, she is, at 80 Ms. Steinem finds herself more productive and at peace than ever.  “…A dwindling libido, she theorized, can be a terrific advantage: “The brain cells that used to be obsessed are now free for all kinds of great things…” 


Older’s American Month: Age Out Loud

Each May, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads our nation’s celebration of Older Americans Month (OAM). ACL designed the 2017 OAM theme, Age Out Loud, to give aging a new voice—one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.

This theme shines a light on many important trends. More than ever before, older Americans are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. What it means to age has changed, and OAM 2017 is a perfect opportunity to recognize and celebrate what getting older looks like today.

Marianne Gontarz York, portraits one of our older Americans who live and age out loud. She says on the Newsletter of the Marin County Commission on Aging “…There is no one I can think of who exemplifies this more than Barbara Borden… a 71 year old drummer [who] has lived her life out loud” Read More

Forbes published that according to the Administration on Aging (AoA), to Age Out Loud means “having the freedom to live with dignity, choice, and opportunities.” … and they comment on 10 Ways All Ages Can celebrate Older Americans.

    1. Talk to older people everywhere. Find out what they have to say. Learn about their experiences. Interview people in your community who exemplify what it means to Age Out Loud. Gather a mix of individuals, such as older public servants, elder rights advocates, back-to-schoolers, moms and grandmas, athletes, authors, retired professional people who broke barriers or people trying new careers. Everyone has a story. Share your interviews through written pieces or videos.
    2. Arrange for older adults to share or read stories in a workshop or for a “Senior Day” at a local school. Find out about older adults reading books to children at a local library.
    3. Teachers and others, help local school students set up interviews with residents of a retirement community, assisted living community or nursing home, and write short biographies for a school assignment. Plan a program for wherein the students would read aloud their stories. Invite families of students and seniors and even the media to attend.
    4. Ask your older followers and friends on social media to share their wisdom, tips and stories online. You can use a unique hashtag or post to a page or forum you create or manage.
    5. Arrange a celebratory event with a community leader or keynote speaker from your community. Invite community members to a special event celebrating older Americans. It could be a sit-down meal, a networking gathering or a special program like a storytelling or talent show. Plan activities that will result in proceeds like those from a raffle, and donate the funds to a local charity or program or agency that supports older adults.
    6. Plan a volunteer event for older adults who want to give back. The purpose could be anything from picking up litter or gardening in public areas to collecting clothing and food donations for those in need. If you need ideas visit Serve.gov.  If resources are available, create matching volunteer t-shirts that say “Age Out Loud!” This creates a sense of unity and raises awareness among those who see your group volunteering.
    7. Coordinate an education event like a resource fair, class, workshop or lecture a topic covered by this year’s theme. The gathering could hone in on self-expression with activities like painting, acting and singing or focus on maintaining health and independence with a yoga or strength training class. Nutrition tips can be added to any wellness event. Consider teaching a group about self-advocacy, technology or starting a new career.
    8. Help an older person gather family photos and make an album or scrapbook about their life and the legacy they will leave.
    9. Consider participating in a life review project such as The UMSL Life Review Project at the University of Missouri – at St. Louis, where Dr. Tom Meuser, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, applied gerontologist, and director of the University of Missouri-St. Louis’s Gerontology Graduate Program is recruiting older adults and their adult children in pairs to either be interviewed or complete questionnaires in support of his research. He will be recruiting through July 2017 and welcomes participants to contact him by email at meusert@umsl.edu to volunteer or learn more. The project flyer can be found at here. https://sites.google.com/a/umsl.edu/legacy-project/home.
    10. And finally, simply spend time with an older person, no matter what age you are. Chances are you can learn a lot from them and vice versa. Read the article

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