Once in a while in doing my research I stumble across something that makes me smile and think that the future holds marvelous new things for old people. It is not just our millennial children or grandchildren that get to benefit from the ever changing communication technology. I can only dream that in 5-10-20 years, if we do manage to truly age in place, that we will not be living in a cocoon.
There was a study just released that says that medical research has to figure out the mystery of the declining death rate for all diseases. So let them work on that while we celebrate that prospect and hope that our minds will be open to a even more digitized, gadget laden but connected future as we live longer lives.
Small seeds of this are being planted by organization like SelfHelp VSC. VSC stands for virtual senior center- social connections without the meatloaf special. There is a non profit that was started in the New York community over 80 years ago focusing on Holocaust survivors. It is still relatively small but is the essence of simplicity, use a simplified Skype system to connect home bound seniors.
Read here: http://vscm.selfhelp.net/ . That serene face says it all. Even if your mobility is limited you can connect and feast on the simple pleasure of learning, playing, even just hanging out with others. This program is currently operating only in Baltimore, Chicago, Long Island and NY -soon to expand to Pittsburgh.
You may scoff at this as you check your iPhone and swipe across your tablet while checking you fit bit. As I have met several people basically my age who have parents in their nineties , think of how this can work from both ends of the age spectrum. I always disliked the term shut in, but when frail bodies have to stay home to stay safe, it does not mean their minds have to be shut in too. No one should be limited from engaging in at least virtual contact.
These folks in their eighties and nineties + prove that. They are their own type of pioneers using technology they never thought they would touch. There is also a program being pioneered in assisted living to use virtual reality headsets to let residents travel to places they have never been. If I never make it to see Denali, Alaska from the deck of a cruise ship, I can plan on seeing it from my virtual reality unit.
So if older folks who were not introduced to a computer until very late in their lives can handle this – what will younger seniors be able to do with methods that have not even been invented yet? What future technology will we be treated to?
So fly me to the virtual moon and let me dream about apps that make the world better and add charm to our connected homes and minds.