SENIOR POWER: Staying connected

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday February 07, 2014 - 10:20:00 AM

“PC” refers to “personal computer.” Most PC users have access to 3 things: the Internet; a word processor (e.g. “WORD”;) and email capability (e.g."Becky”). About half of Americans age 65+ use the Internet, but societal dependence on digital technology threatens to leave behind those who do not, cannot, or will not go online. 

"For Some, Retirement Is Out of Reach. For Others, Boring," reports Abby Ellin (New York Times, Feb. 2, 2014). But at a Los Angeles senior center, efforts to teach elders how to stay connected through computers are important. They have been reported by PBS NewsHour correspondent Mary Jo Brooks. ("Closing the digital divide by helping seniors get online." January 13, 2014.) 

Once exposed to the Internet, seniors do use it. Seventy percent of seniors who have Internet access use it on a daily basis. Forty-five percent of senior Internet users say they use Facebook. The Pew Center for Internet and American Life reported in October 2013 that, while 35% of Americans have tablet computers, only 16% of those age 65+ own that kind of technology. 

"Nintendo (Corporation, Limited--consumer electronics) wants elderly to play its video games," says Hayley Tsukayama (Washington Post blog, Feb. 1, 2014). 

With names like,,, and, many companies are targeting mature adults. About half of the senior population studied by Dr. Pepper Schwartz has tried online dating, an increase from about 10% 10 years ago. American sociologist and sexologist Schwartz is AARP's "love and relationship ambassador."  


Last spring, Vermont became the fourth state in the nation to support aid in dying-- the first to do so through the state legislature, and the first state east of the Mississippi River. 

Final Congressional action on the fiscal year 2014 omnibus spending bill took place on January 16, 2014, with the Senate's passage of the bill in a 72-26 vote. This bill will fund the government through the rest of fiscal year 2014, or September 30. For the third year in a row, the President's budget request for funding of the Elder Justice Act was not supported by Congress. And the Elder Justice Coalition reported on January 16, 2014 that the Adult Protective Services Demonstration request of $8 million was not included in the final omnibus. 

Medicare can be confusing — doughnut holes, Special Needs Plans, PDP coverage, late enrollment penalties and Medigap A through N… A recent study by the Medicare Rights Center nationwide advocacy group focused on the 3 most common issues (problems) with which consumers have trouble. Questions about covering out-of-pocket expenses represent 21% of the calls. And, according to a new analysis by Social Security Works of data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors consumed over a third of the average Social Security check in 2010. 


"What Can Physicians Do To Help Elderly Patients Who Can't Care For Themselves?," by Howard Gleckman (Forbes, January 10, 2014). 

"Should You Move To Live Near Your Grandchildren?" by Donnie Davis (Huffington Post, Blog, January 10, 2014).