You might be interested to know there is more to this woman than a beautiful face. She’s got a brain, too. And a healthy dose of attitude. [Read more…]
In this week’s Time Magazine, designer Tommy Hilfiger says he doesn’t like to see people wearing floral prints.
I think they really don’t have great taste. Why would you want to wear a print you see on a bedspread or wallpaper in an older person’s home?
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. Why would you disrespect a whole group of people based on nothing but age? That’s textbook ageism, my friend, and at sixty-one you should know better. Think I’m overreacting? Try this: why don’t you repeat that sentence but instead of older, use the adjective black. How does that look?
If it’s not okay the one way, it’s not okay the other, Tommy. I will assume you’re a nice guy and didn’t mean it, and if so, that makes my point: we’re so comfortable insulting people based on age that we don’t hear ourselves. It’s not intentional or conscious, just an easy stereotype to slip into. So next time, try to be a little more careful, won’t you? Maybe, in so doing, you can set an example for the rest of the world.
The young woman was upset about her mother. “Mom bought me a house a few years ago, and believe me, I’m grateful,” she said to the advice columnist. “But I’ve had some financial setbacks, like losing my job in the recession and having to file bankruptcy. I’m doing the best I can to pay Mom back, but the other day she complained to my aunt about my financial dependency. I can’t believe my mother revealed this confidence. She’s normally so private. I’m worried she’s starting to show signs of dementia.”
The advice columnist responded, “She might just be resentful about your financial situation, and kept it to herself all these years. But definitely try to get her to go with you to her doctor,” she said. “Have her get a full checkup…”
I don’t like what you did. I think you need to see your doctor.
Maybe some of us DO get old and cranky, and maybe we shoot our mouths off about not wanting to be doormats any more. Maybe we’ve seen enough bad behavior by this point that we’re way less tolerant of it, and we’re comfortable saying so out loud. How convenient to assume we’re losing our marbles.
Impending dementia provides a handy explanation for discomfiting behavior. (For younger people, we cluck that they “may be bipolar.”) Neither assessment should be made casually. If you see something, observe without panicking, and if there’s a pattern over time, discuss it privately with a professional. If you receive guidance to take it further, so be it. But don’t jump into it haphazardly.
Humans like to control their environment. A crabby senior might look like a candidate for muzzling but tread carefully. An irresponsible charge of dementia can cause us to resent you and begin second-guessing ourselves. Life is fast-moving and complicated these days. Plenty of people forget things, sound stupid, or lose their tempers. Ageism alert: if you wouldn’t accuse a young person of dementia in a certain situation, don’t accuse an old person of it either.
Please don’t be mad at me. I swear I’m in my right mind. Such as it is.
After last week’s unfortunate review of the Claris tablet by a magazine called FastCompany, I got in touch with Claris Healthcare. One of Claris’ people said they don’t have any control over a journalist’s choice of headings, but she was dismayed by the “firestorm” that reviewer had created. It seemed fair to offer Claris a chance to say something on their own behalf, so here is their statement from Kara Wood:
Simple is Smart
There has been quite a bit of discussion about a recent article titled ‘A Tablet So Simple, Even An Old Person Can Use It’. Claris Healthcare, the company that makes Claris Companion – the subject of the article, appreciates the opportunity to offer our perspective.
There are a lot of older seniors that enjoy keeping pace with today’s rapidly changing technology. But there’s also a portion of the population (independent of age) that isn’t interested, or because of a physical disability, isn’t able to benefit from being online. We developed Claris Companion to help anyone connect with friends, family and caregivers by removing the barriers imposed by modern computer design.
The latest tablet is great if you want to learn all about the pages of icons, settings, menus and options. But what if you aren’t that interested? As my 92-year-old mother would put it, “I never had to enter a user name and password to answer the phone, or launch a web browser and enter a URL to read a letter”.
She’s far from alone. Yes, seniors are the fastest growing population of Internet users (see Sparkbeat 2012/07/03) – not to mention the fastest growing segment of the population, period – but there are a significant portion who simply don’t want to climb the learning curve to get the benefits of the Internet, or due to disease like arthritis or Parkinson’s, have trouble with devices that were specifically designed for a different demographic of users.
So our design challenge was to make a device that can engage anyone in online communications – sharing of email, text messaging and photos with family in a way that most others take for granted. And there is a much larger issue at play here. Access to the Internet is not just about photos and email; but for our aging population, it is increasingly critical to their care and wellbeing. That’s because our healthcare system simply cannot withstand the wave of aging boomers that is coming. We will no longer be able to provide prolonged care for older seniors in hospital or extended care facilities – increasingly people will have to age at home. So effective delivery of self-care assistance and monitoring at home will be critical to successful aging-in-place.
The answer is to be sure that the immediate benefits outweigh the effort required to use the technology. The benefits side of this equation is easy –most people (including older seniors) are very happy to engage with sharing photos, email and text messages with family – and even adopting personalized self-care assistance if and when they want.
It’s the other side of the equation that is challenging – how to design something that doesn’t require any training at all to use. This is not about ‘dumbing down’ computers to make them ‘so simple even old people can use them’. This is about designing something where the benefits are much greater than the effort required to use it. That’s what we believe we have achieved with Claris Companion.
Apparently, we have found that balance for my mother. She now gets photos sent to her from everyone in the family and dashes off emails to us too. But what is even more important to me is that she has now decided to turn on the medication reminders and I get a notification each day confirming that everything is okay.
I’m not trying to make you paranoid, but when you go to the doctor, are you being stereotyped? [Read more…]