Specialist in Issues of Midlife & Older Adults

Monthly Archives: October 2012

‘Aging in the 21st Century: A Celebration and A Challenge’

‘Aging in the 21st Century: A Celebration and A Challenge’


In ancient times, open-minded map makers labeled unknown territories simply as “Terra Incognita”, meaning “land unknown”. More fearful cartographers literally marked those territories: “Here be dragons”.


In America, with our youth-oriented culture and associated denial and dread of growing older, there appears to exist a comparable fear of the unknown territory of… aging. “Here be dragons!” seems to be the underlying message of the anti-aging products and ageist stereotypes that flood our media.


Interestingly enough, at the same time,  there is a huge global, aging population swell happening.


The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge International, London just published the results of their 2012 study called “Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge”.


Here are just a few of the mind-boggling statistics from this report:


  1. Around the world, two persons celebrate their sixtieth birthday every second – an annual total of almost 58 million sixtieth birthdays.
  2. By 2050 for the first time there will be more older people than children under 15. In 2000, there were already more people aged 60 or over than children under 5.
  3. In 2012, 810 million people were aged 60 or over, accounting for 11.5 per cent of the global population. The number is projected to reach 1 billion in less than 10 years and more than double by 2050, reaching2 billion and accounting for 22 per cent of the global population.
  4. In the past decade, the number of people aged 60 or over has risen by 178 million – equivalent to nearly the entire population of Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world.
  5. Japan is only country in the world with more than 30 percent of its population aged 60 or over.By 2050, there will be 64 countries where older people make up more than 30 per cent of their population.
  6. The number of centenarians will increase globally from 316,600 in 2011 to 3.2 million in 2050.


As you can see, the numbers of us in older age are growing dramatically – not just here in Marin, but around the world. Here in Marin County, our population’s fastest growing age sector is 85+ years old. And of that 85+ group, the fastest growing segment are the centenarians! This aging population wave has often been referred to as the “silver tsunami”.


Extraordinary advances in medicine and sanitation, education about nutrition, declines in some types of unhealthy behavior, such as smoking, are contributing to rising life expectancies. The average life expectancy in the United States in 1900 was 49 years, now it’s about 80 years.


All of this is to say, not only is growing older uncharted terrain because each of us is experiencing it for the first time, but there are so many more of us experiencing it for the first time… ever. Human beings, in general, have never lived this long and there have never been so many of us experiencing it together!


More and more guides for how to age well will be sought. Books written, interviews conducted, studies done, opinions opined. Rest assured, growing older will become more visible just through the sheer numbers of us. Hopefully this will result in more awareness of the opportunities, the challenges and the needs of older people – and we will come up with many new, creative alternatives and solutions for for taking care of ourselves and each other as we age.

11 Interesting Smartphone Apps for Seniors

11 Interesting Smartphone Apps for Seniors

These apps obviously aren’t just for seniors but are some that seniors might find entertaining and/or useful.


Find My Phone (free)

You need to have another Mac iOS product like a Mac computer, iPad or iPod touch. You install the Apple app on your secondary device, open it and sign in with your Apple ID.  The app does things like help you find the missing phone on a map, have the phone play a sound (if it’s in your house somewhere), remotely lock your device or erase all your data. If you have iOS 6, you can use Lost Mode – you can remotely lock your iPhone and then automatically post your contact phone # on its screen.


NPR Mobile (free)

Get all your favorite NPR shows on your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, iPad and any web-enabled device.


PBS Mobile (free)

Using an iPad and this free app you can watch popular PBS programs like Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Nova, Need to Know, Masterpiece, Nature and more.


GasBuddy (free)

Lists cheapest gas in your immediate area when you input your zip code. Available for iPhone, Blackberry or Android.


Words with Friends (free)

A fun word game which looks just like Scrabble. Invite your friend or family member to play or you can play with random opponents. A lot of fun and can be addicting! J And maybe confusing if you get too many games going at once. Available for iPhone and Android.


Facebook Mobile (free)

Another way to stay in touch with friends, children, grandchildren. You don’t have to have a laptop, you can use your iphone or your iPad.


MedWatcher (free)

This app describes medical uses and known side effects of a wide range of medications plus offers news and safety alerts on vaccines and prescription medicines. MedWatcher is a mobile tool for both healthcare professionals and the general public. Anyone can submit an adverse event report to FDA using the easy-to-use form on MedWatcher, or post to their online community to talk to others taking the same meds. In the My Saved section, you can make a quick list of all the prescription medicines, devices and vaccines your family or patients use and track the latest developments. This app is a project of Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the University of North Carolina and Epidemico.


WebMD Mobile (free)

WedMD is the longtime go-to, reputable website for medical information on a wide range of conditions, symptoms, prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements, first aid information and other helpful resources and support. You can also search for information on a specific medications using the Pill ID function. For Android, iPhone, iPad. They also have a new iPhone app WebMd Pain Coach for people living with chronic pain, featuring over 1,000 doctor-approved tips and articles, symptom and treatment trackers, and more.


Over 40 Magnifier and Flashlight ($.99)

This is an app for iPhones but there are plenty of magnifier apps out there for other smartphone brands as well. This one allows you to see menus and receipts in dark restaurants, use the Flashlight feature to see in dark areas, use the Vanity Mirror to see how you look and magnifies from 1x to 10x.


Elder 411 and Elder 911 (free)

Two separate apps both created by a geriatric care manager. Elder 911 can help walk you through an emergency concerning an elderly loved one. There is a screen where you can select your relation to the senior (parent, spouse, etc.) and what stage of crisis they are in (before the crisis, at the hospital, post-hospital, etc.). From there, an assortment of checklists, steps, and pertinent information is available to help you manage an emergency situation. Elder 411 is a more widely-applicable app containing general caregiving information and tips on things like communication, financial matters, and safety.


Stress Stopper ($.99)

What would this list be without a stress-relief app? You can use this iPhone app to learn about 10 common types of stress; schedule up to 64 reminders to stay one step ahead of stress; integrate your reactions with focused thinking and breathing until the stress is gone; use their 9 tips to manage stress in the heat of the moment;  listen to stress busting audio reminders: e.g. laughter, chimes, waves; connect with a Stress Is Gone Coach as needed; link to other free tools that relieve stress and use it when the iPhone is in Airplane mode.