In this week's Quick takes installment, we highlight initiatives designed to make a positive difference in the lives of older populations. Some are pretty simple, but as you'll read below, they do matter. – Liz Enbysk
In Winter Park, a daily call from the local PD offers peace of mind
Like many smaller towns, the Winter Park, Florida, police use automated telephone reassurance systems to check on elderly residents. Not a new concept, but a PBS report suggests it's one that is growing in popularity around the U.S. "A lot of the seniors who sign up are concerned that they could pass and not be discovered for days," Winter Park Police Officer Randall Morrissey told PBS. "With this program, it’s comforting for them to know they could be found." And Morrissey says it doesn't cost his department anything, other than the occasional false calls an officer is sent out on. He says they run RUOK software on an old laptop that was paid for with forfeiture funds.
Australian nonprofit will connect university students in Mumbai with retirees
The Silver Fox promotes age-friendly cities and positive aging by connecting partner schools with late-life adults who want to remain engaged in their communities. Silver Fox Ambassadors are matched with schools in Australia's Brisbane and Sunshine Coast communities to help on projects. But the nonprofit also works further afield. A pilot set for this fall has seniors connecting with university students in Mumbai in a speaking and pen pal cultural exchange. As The Silver Fox site explains, the pilot is designed "to harness both technology and the ease with which it allows us to chat across time zones and continents, but in this case, also across cultures and generations." One goal is to research the benefits the exchange of knowledge and experiences offers seniors with varying levels of dementia. Mumbai young people, meanwhile, get a taste of something very low-tech – letter writing.
Singapore launches standardization efforts to support active aging
Like many places in Asia, Singapore's population is aging rapidly, prompting two initiatives to support the needs of elderly citizens. One, as theonlinecitizen.com reports, is the Silver Industry Standards Roadmap – "a framework based on four key elements of live, work, play and infrastructure development to support elderly needs." The other is Singapore Standard SS 618, which is intended to help application and service providers design user interfaces that older folks can easily use. "Singapore is moving towards being a Smart Nation where the use of information and communication technology will be pervasive," Dr. Calvin Chan, convener of the working group for SS 618 noted. "Yet it is also among one of the fastest aging nations in the world. SS 618 is developed against this backdrop with the strategic motivation to ensure that senior citizens in Singapore can remain active and independent as more products and services, including access to fast and guaranteed funding of their needs as well, become digitized."
Detroit DOT adds years to its reduced bus fare program for seniors
“Our purpose as a transit agency is to serve passengers who often don’t have any other transportation options, especially our elderly residents and those with disabilities,” Detroit Department of Transportation Director Dan Dirks said in a statement. The agency recently extended its reduced fare program for eligible bus riding seniors and people with disabilities from two years to four years. DDOT also improved the process for obtaining its reduced fare cards. "All Detroiters deserve to be able to access this service, and these changes will help to make sure that those who need it most can access it," Dirks added.
Smart gadgets are everywhere in Hong Kong's Aging in Place demo flat
An installment of Groovers and Shakers, a Facebook Live series produced by the South China Morning Post, features a tour of Aging in Place, a demo flat at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park in Sha Tin. Everything in the 500 square foot flat, according to the Post, is designed with the needs of the elderly in mind. The idea is to demonstrate how technology can ease the lives of older folks. Watch the video.