Sunday, October 02, 2005

Boomers May Change Society - Again

When We're All 64

Physical

[All emph. add.] [S]ome people may give up the idea of a house entirely. Geriatrician Lee Lindquist found through a study last fall that living on a cruise ship would cost about the same as in an assisted-living facility: $33,260 for a year-round cruise versus $28,689 for a year at the average assisted-living facility. (A high-end facility would cost $48,000 or more.) The cruise would provide essentially the same services, including escorts to meals, dining, help with medicine and housekeeping -- plus "look at how much more you're getting on a cruise ship -- the midnight buffet, the pools, and you're treated as a customer, not a patient," Dr. Lindquist says.

She got the idea while on a cruise to the Caribbean with her parents. A few of the other older travelers on the ship said they had been on 20 cruises in the past year -- meaning they were living on a boat about every other week. Boomers she has interviewed say they like the notion. "Part of the appeal is that they wouldn't be with all older people," Dr. Lindquist says. "They'd be mixed in with the frat boys and newlyweds, so they would feel less like it was a nursing home." [...]

Mental

One start-up company, Posit Science Corp. of San Francisco, already [has tested] memory-building computer games in Bay area retirement communities. The company claims that the hundreds of older people using its software in preliminary tests have the mental acuity of someone five to 10 years younger. Posit plans to have home versions of the games out by next year. [...]

Intel's team of social scientists is developing computerized memory aids, too. [...] One gadget, tested in two dozen households in Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., was designed to help people ease their fears of not recognizing a face or voice when answering the door or telephone. Intel used wireless sensor networks to collect data for four months about who visited, called and emailed the participants, and how often. The data were used to create a "solar-system display" on a TV or computer screen. Circles representing friends and family orbit around you; when you move the mouse over those circles, you see photos of the people they represent, along with the last time you spoke to them and what you talked about.
Similarly, Intel developed what designers dubbed "caller ID on steroids." When the phone rings, a nearby digital photo frame displays a picture of the caller and lists what you talked about during your last call.

The "presence lamp" was also a big hit among test subjects. One of these lights is placed in the parent's house, one in the child's. When the child returns home after a visit, the light automatically goes on in the parent's house, and vice versa. The gadget lowered depression among the older adults with Alzheimer's disease by showing them their kids had gotten home safely. It also alerted a few boomers when their parents got lost on the drive home after they had dinner together. "It was in crude prototype, and needed a lot of baby-sitting by our engineers," says Mr. Dishman. But when the trial was over, "the people said, 'No, don't take this away from me.' " Now Intel hopes that the computer makers that buy its chips will bring these products to market.

- By KELLY GREENE, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL



The enhanced caller ID seems like a great idea for anyone, elderly or not.
Most cellphones can already display a picture or other graphic unique to each identified caller.

2 Comments:

Blogger Oroborous said...

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October 04, 2005 6:47 PM  
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October 26, 2005 11:51 PM  

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