Specialist in Issues of Midlife & Older Adults

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Live Long, Live Well – A New Report on the Status of Older Adults In Marin

A few weeks ago, I attended the first monthly Commission on Aging meeting I had been able to attend in over a year. The April COA meeting featured Marin County’sArea Agency on Aging’s quadrennial report on life for older adults in Marin called “Live Long, Live Well”, focused on the years 2012-2016.


The report is chocked full of fascinating demographics gathered from public and government statistics as well as a local survey answered by 891 Marin citizens. For instance, while the overall population of Marin County is fairly static, the % change in population of persons 60 and over increased by 40% between 2000 and 2010. It is projected to increase another 27% between 2010 and 2020. The number of citizens 60 years and older in 2010 was 61,454.


Marin’s population is the oldest in the Bay Area. The oldest community in Marin is Dillon Beach. 30% of Marin’s 65+ population lives alone.  73% of renters 65+ live alone. More than half of all senior renters living alone in Marin are trying to survive on incomes below the Elder Index. The Elder Index is an adjusted Federal Poverty Level Index that takes into account the actual cost of living in any particular locality.


The slides outline information on many topics in an easy to read and understand format. Topics include overall health and specific medical conditions in our older population, employment and retirement statistics, gender differences in labor force distribution (more older women are working), the race/ethnicity of the 891 survey respondents, nutritional health, top activities, mobility, use of technology, access to caregivers and perceptions of quality of life.


The top three Issues and Concerns expressed by respondents were unemployment (27%), getting services (25%) and Abuse (23%).  The top 5 sources of information when searching for services are Word of Mouth, Marin IJ, Internet, Senior Centers and Whistlestop. 1 out of every 4 respondents are caregivers. The priority areas of concern moving forward are to improve access to services, resources and information; to find local and community-based solutions to address needs; and to improve the effectiveness of the existing services system. The Division of Aging and Adult Services is doing its best to stretch the budget dollars it has to address these issues.


For more information, you can view the slide presentation Area Plan on Aging 2012 – 2016



The Pew Research Center has just published a comprehensive new report called  “Digital Differences – While increased internet adoption and the rise of mobile connectivity have reduced many gaps in technology access over the past decade, for some groups digital disparities still remain.”


Here are some interesting quotes pertaining to use of the Internet by adults 65 and over:


“Yet even groups that have persistently had the lowest access rates have still seen significant increases over the past decade. In 2000, for instance, we found that there existed “a pronounced ‘gray gap’ as young people go online and seniors shun the internet. Adults age 65 and older are still significantly less likely to use the internet than other groups, but now 41% of them use the internet. In 2000, over five times as many adults under 30 used the internet as did adults 65 and older, but as of 2011 young adults’ adoption levels are only a little over twice that of the 65-and-over age group.”




“Though one of the newer online activities the Pew Internet Project studies, as of 2011 social networking sites are used by 65% of all internet users—half of all American adults. Among internet users, we see a very strong correlation in use with age, as some 87% of internet users under 30 use these sites, compared with less than a third (29%) of those 65 and older. However, though their overall numbers are still relatively low, older adults have represented one of the fastest-growing segments of the social networking site-using population. This growth may be driven by several factors, some of which include the ability to reconnect with people from the past, find supporting communities to deal with a chronic disease, and connect with younger generations. “


To read the full report, click here. 

The 50 Best Life Story Questions


Personal historian and award-winning documentarian Dan Curtis has a very interesting blog. Based on his many years of work recording life stories, he assembled a list of 50 questions to inspire people to start talking about their lives and to share their stories. The top 10 questions are:


  1. If you could do one thing over in your life, what would it be?
  2. What makes  you happy?
  3. Looking back on your life, what do you regret?
  4. What do you believe to be true?
  5. What is the secret to a happy life?
  6. What do you believe happens to us after we die?
  7. Who’s had the greatest influence on your life and why?
  8. What are the qualities that you admire in your friends?
  9. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
  10. How would you describe yourself?


To read the rest of Dan’s list click here. 

How Music Improves the Memory of Dementia Patients


A new, beautiful film called “Alive Inside” has premiered in New York City this month. The film features the story of a 92 year old gentleman with dementia named Henry Dryer who basically was almost noncommunicative until music came back into his life. He had loved music when he was young and now that he listens to music regularly, he sings songs, carries on brief conversations, can recall some memories and even dance.  He has “come alive”.


The film tracks the lives of seven patients with dementia, including Henry, who have benefitted through the work of a nonprofit called Music & Memory which donates iPods and personalized music to people with dementia. “Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience. Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can,” says renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks who appears in the film.


To read more, click here

The Dakini Speaks


by Jennifer Welwood


My friends, let’s grow up.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t know the deal here.
Or if we truly haven’t noticed, let’s wake up and notice.


Look: everything that can be lost, will be lost.
It’s simple–how could we have missed it for so long?
Let’s grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings,
But please, let’s not be so shocked by them.
Let’s not act so betrayed,
As though life had broken her secret promise to us.


Impermanence is life’s only promise to us,
And she keeps it with ruthless impeccability.


To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild,
And her compassion is exquisitely precise:
Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth,
She strips away the unreal to show us the real.
This is the true ride — let’s give ourselves to it!


Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.


We are not children any more.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!

It’s Vital to Recognize Depression in Aging Adults


This is a very good, short article on why it is so important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in older people. They may not recognize that they themselves are depressed so it is imperative for caregivers and loved ones to be on the lookout. Undiagnosed depression can lead to isolation and even suicidality. Most cases of depression can be cured. This article is written by an older gentleman who has over 30 years experience working in retirement community and health facility administration. He includes reminders and tips for fighting depression in this article.  Recognize Depression in Older People – You May Save A Life

Drug Dependence Rising Among Baby Boomers


A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:


“Illicit drug use generally declines as individuals move through young adulthood into middle adulthood and maturity, but research has shown that the baby-boom generation (persons born between 1946 and 1964) has relatively higher drug use rates than previous generations. It has been predicted that, as the baby boom generation ages, past year marijuana use will almost triple between 1999/2001 and 2020 among persons aged 50 or older. Nonmedical use
of prescription-type drugs has been identified as a concern for this population.”
To read the complete report:  Illicit Drug Use Among Older Adults

What Do We Call Ourselves as a Group as We Get Older?


What do we call ourselves as a group as we get older? Seniors? Elders? Crones? Older adults? Geezers? Will baby boomers always just be called baby boomers? What else can we call ourselves when referring to our demographic cohort?  Here’s a good article on this called Elderly No More from the New Old Age Blog which is such a wonderful blog on aging.


Studies show oxytocin boost for people using social media


Here’s an interesting article from Fast Company about the boost in oxytocin found in people trusting and enjoying social media interchanges. Interesting! No wonder it can be so much fun and so addictive too.


“While there was overwhelming evidence that oxytocin played an important role in economic [online] transactions, I theorized it would also affect a person engaging on Facebook and Twitter. What is social networking but a social transaction? So Zak took my blood, I got on Twitter for 10 minutes, then he took it again, then compared to the two samples. In those intervening 10 minutes my levels of oxytocin had risen 13.2%–as much as a groom at a wedding. (My wife: “That’s pathetic.”)


Subsequently Zak traveled to Korea and redid my tweeting experiment, this time with three journalists using Facebook. The result: They all demonstrated increased levels of oxytocin. In fact, the oxytocin levels of one of the journalists, who was writing to his girlfriend, shot up nearly 150%. In other words, the brain’s release of oxytocin may correspond with the depth of connection between two people online.”


Check it the complete article.  Fast Company Article