Details for TECH CULTURE
How empty-nesters can transform their homes After bringing home a bubbly baby boy or girl, it can be hard for parents to imagine that a day will come when their kids are off to college and then onto their own apartment or house. After spending decades nurturing and caring for children, parents are then left with a suddenly quiet house and probably much more time to spare. If saying goodbye to the kids also means extra house, there’s the option to downsize or make that extra space more useful. Homeowners who choose to stay put can renovate vacant rooms into spaces that meet their newfound needs. • Hobby haven: If you’ve always meant to set up a crafting room, home-brewing station or an artist’s studio, now is an ideal time to do just that. Figure out which supplies you will need and begin reworking that former bedroom into a new sanctuary for leisure interests. • Guest suite: If you’ve never had a spare bedroom to entertain guests, a child’s former bedroom can fit the bill. It may not be that difficult to transform such spaces into relaxing and inviting rooms for overnight guests. Be sure there is at least a queen-sized bed and a dresser or chest of drawers to stash belongings. Select paint colors and linens in neutral tones so the room will be inviting to guests. • Living room redo: When there’s an entire soccer team coming over to hang out, that large sectional sofa or modular seating may be ideal. Now that the kids are out of the house and their friends are no longer coming over for movie night, living rooms can be made more intimate with small-scale seating. A small sofa and two comfortable chairs may be a more fitting option. • At-home gym: Save on gym membership fees by building a mini studio right at home. Choose one of the larger bedrooms and then fill it with some fitness equipment, such as an elliptical trainer, a bench press bench and some free weights. Store rolled-up mats in the closet for yoga or Pilates sessions. • Expanded bathroom: If space has always been at a premium in the bathroom, borrow area from an empty bedroom and turn it into a spa. Install a soaking tub separate from the shower, and fill the room with other amenities, such as a warming lamp or even a small sauna. • Home office: Working from home a few days a week may be more plausible when nearing retirement, as it will be a smoother transition from heading to the office each day to spending more time at home. Turn a bedroom or den into an office space with a new desk and bookshelves. An empty nest can be a bittersweet experience, but parents can make such situations work for them by transforming their homes to better reflect their current needs. Seniors becoming more tech-savvy Technology is the future, and digital communication has opened many doors for people around the world. Although younger generations have grown up with technology at their fingers, Baby Boomers and older adults did not. But in spite of that, studies show that growing numbers of seniors are open to the idea of technology and even seeking ways to further their use and knowledge. According to a 2014 study by Pew Research Center, 59 percent of seniors regularly use the internet - a 6 percent increase from the previous study conducted in 2012. Today, 67 percent of adults age 65 and older say they go online. Pew also says that, although seniors consistently have lower rates of technology adoption than the general public, four in 10 seniors now own smartphones, which is more than double the amount that did in 2013. Seniors in Australia are especially tech savvy, as Deloitte’s mobile consumer survey found 78 percent of Australian seniors aged 65 to 75 own a smartphone, up from 69 percent in 2016. for families to stay informed and provide assistance even if they are not nearby. SilverSurfers, a senior-based information website, says other tech that seniors are embracing includes online dating; audio and digital books; online shopping, which is especially valuable to seniors who have mobility issues; and social media, which can keep seniors connected to others and feeling less lonely. A study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found 18 percent of American seniors live alone, and 43 percent report feeling lonely on a regular basis. Loneliness can increase death risk. Social media and internet connectivity can be an While stereotypes have long painted seniors as technologically inept, seniors are actually more socially and digitally engaged than ever before. Seniors use technology in many different ways. Some use mobile apps to manage medications and doctor’s appointments and monitor their fitness regimens. Some families employ 24/7 alert systems or smarthome technology to keep seniors comfortable and safe at home for as long as possible. Noninvasive, ‘smart’ technology can analyze factors such as whether or not doors are left open, if there has been movement in a home, or whether appliances/lights are on or off. This represents a great way important tool in helping seniors feel like active members of society. Technology is no longer just for teenagers or active workers. Seniors are increasingly embracing technology and becoming a fast-growing demographic for tech usage. Adopting a dog or cat later in life Companion animals bring great joy to their owners. The unconditional love cats and dogs provide appeals to people of all ages. While many people associate pets with kids who can’t wait to welcome the first cat or dog into their homes, pets can benefit aging men and women as well. It’s not uncommon for seniors to feel lonely or depressed when they retire, their children move away or they lose a spouse or close friend or friends. The American Humane Society states that studies show pets help seniors overcome loneliness and depression by providing affection, company and entertainment. Pets also provide much-needed mental stimulation, and many pet owners find their pets help them become more physically active as well. Seniors who adopt pets may also feel a sense of purpose when helping animals who may not have anywhere to live. This is particularly true of older companion animals, which many young families are understandably hesitant to adopt. Mature pets might be an ideal fit for seniors. When seniors are looking to adopt a pet, there are various reasons why older pets or particular animals might be the perfect fit for them. • Adult pets may already be house trained, saving seniors the trouble and effort of training them. • Seniors may find cats fit their lifestyles more than dogs, as cats are less active and do not need to be walked or played with as much as dogs. Cats also are small and easily maneuverable, meaning even seniors who have arthritis or other physical limitations can easily care for cats. Many cats are also content to spend long periods of time sleeping on their owners’ laps. • Small dogs that can be active within the house might be a good idea as well, especially for seniors with mobility issues. They’re also easily transported to and from vet appointments. It’s important that seniors carefully weigh the benefits of adopting a pet against any limitations they may have. Having a backup plan for care is advantageous as well. Seniors should not adopt a pet if they anticipate frequent travel or medical care that requires they be away from home for long periods of time.