What’s with the name-calling?

I read “Today” newspaper recently and saw a reader comment about using the term “mature citizens” instead of the more common “elderly”. He shared, “… we should change our perceptions to elevate their position. They should not be viewed as weak, in constant need of assistance and handouts, and treated with pity.”

I couldn’t agree more that we need to change our perceptions but I wonder does using a term really matter that much in doing so. There is also the term “senior citizens” and “older persons”. Sometime back, someone shared with me yet another term “good lifers”, where yes, it sounds positive but you can’t quite distinguish between whether you are referring to seniors (sorry) or to those below 50. Is that what we want? Or, maybe we shouldn’t use a term at all.

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Technologies to help seniors & caregivers

With the global ageing population, new technologies are being developed to make the lives of seniors and their caregivers easier. At Cadi Scientific in Singapore, it develops wireless sensing and tracking devices for various healthcare applications. These aim to keep seniors safe and provide caregivers and family members a peace of mind on their health and whereabouts.

Here are some Cadi Scientific technologies that help seniors:

 

1) Wireless continuous temperature monitoring at home

The immune system in seniors typically declines, making early detection of infections important. Cadi.Sense is a wireless temperature monitoring system for home use that measures and transmits the patient’s temperature every 30 seconds. This data is consolidated into a chart, which can be viewed real-time by family members, caregivers and healthcare professionals. A coin-sized device is pasted on the senior’s abdomen and this sends data wirelessly. Alerts are provided via SMS or e-mails should the patient’s fever hits a specified temperature. This is useful in situations such as at night when everyone is sleeping, or while family members are at work. In addition, since temperature taking is no longer done manually, the senior’s normal activities, for example resting, are undisturbed.

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Ill-health dominates fears of growing older

Health issues, a failing mind and the loss of independence are among the biggest fears about getting old, a new UK study has revealed. Loneliness, being a burden to others, having little money to fund their social care or being forced out of their home also feature among the top 10.

 

Worrying about ageing

It also emerged that the age we start to worry is getting lower, with almost seven in 10 of those in their early 50s admitting their fears started sometime in their 40s, compared to just 14 percent of those who are already pensioners.

But 70 percent admit they have no plans in place to deal with growing old, despite more than half admitting it would actually give them peace of mind.

Researchers also found eight in 10 over 50s worry about ageing with some even admitting they are ‘kept awake’ by their fears.

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An innovative approach to eldercare

English book reading event at the Ibasho cafe in Japan.

When you get older, you may need eldercare assistance. With this in mind, where would you prefer to live – in a hospital-like setting, in a hotel-like setting or within your own home amongst a familiar community? These three choices reveal the transition in eldercare models, and how we are now moving towards a new model, what I call the ‘Ibasho’ concept.

With the traditional institutional model, seniors are cared by medical professionals in an efficient, hygienic and safe hospital-like setting. However, seniors often do not want to be viewed as ‘patients’, so this led to the hospitality model, where seniors live in hotel-like environments, benefiting from personalised care. This ‘too-perfect’ scenario was also not ideal, as seniors had no familiarity or control over their environment.

This has led to the Ibasho model, a holistic, integrated concept, where people age within their familiar community, involving a range of people, such as family, medical professionals, caregivers, neighbours and other elders. Elders are now viewed as useful members of the community – people who can contribute their wisdom and experience, rather than as a patient or unwanted burden. This requires a social mindset change in the way elders are perceived and cared for.

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Not all siblings become caregivers

Siblings are not equally involved in caregiving when their ageing parents start needing care. In 75 percent of all cases, only one adult child will become a caregiver. Mothers are primarily cared for by their daughters, whereas sons continue to be less willing to become the sole caregivers for their parents.

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