Tag Archives: isolation

Social isolation, loneliness negatively affect health for seniors

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Neil Moralee via Flickr

Social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased mortality in older adults. Social isolation also has been linked to other adverse health effects, including dementia, increased risk for hospital readmission and increased risk of falls. However, research consistently shows that feeling connected and involved benefits both mental and physical health.

Social isolation and loneliness are not quite the same things, although the terms sometimes are used interchangeably. Continue reading

Technological advances ease complications of aging

Judith Graham

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

The future of services for our aging population will be shaped by the future of technology.

A small example of this important trend appeared last week in a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article by Jane Applegate. She wrote about a new line of walking shoes outfitted with GPS devices that can help track older people with dementia:

“This December, Aetrex (Worldwide, a specialty shoe manufacturer based in Teaneck, N.J.) and GTX (based in Los Angeles) launched the Aetrex Navistar GPS Footwear System, a $300 walking shoe with GTX’s GPS transmitter and receiver embedded in the right heel. Caregivers go online to create a virtual fence – a zone around the person’s residence – and pay Aetrex about $39 a month to receive alerts when the wearer leaves the area. If Grandma does leave, her location will be visible as long as where she goes has cellular coverage …”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, 60 percent of the 5.4 million Americans dealing with the debilitating disease tend to run away or wander during its last stages. The market for technology designed to assist seniors is expected to reach $20 billion by 2020, according to Laurie Orlov, founder of research firm Aging in Place Technology Watch.”

Orlov’s website is a good resource for reporters looking for trends and insight. Not surprisingly, products and services that help people age in place, which The Miami Herald examined in a recent article, are a major focus.

This business segment spans everything from electronic pill boxes to in-home sensors that track an older person’s movements around the house and send an alert if something seems suspicious. See this New York Times article from 2009 (eons ago in technology time!) for more perspective on the trend. Continue reading