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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

New Cholesterol Recommendations Focus on Personalized Care

New guidelines focus on your personal risk, LDL target levels and new drugs for those likely to get cardiovascular disease.

New cholesterol recommendations from the American Heart Association, backed by the American College of Cardiology, support the treatment of older patients with high cholesterol who have previously been left untreated.

"High cholesterol treatment is not one size fits all, and this guideline strongly establishes the importance of personalized care," says Dr. Michael Valentine, president of the American College of Cardiology.

"Over the past five years, we've learned even more about new treatment options and which patients may benefit from them," he said. "By providing a treatment roadmap for clinicians, we are giving them the tools to help their patients understand and manage their risk and live longer, healthier lives.”

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell of your body. It is used to make vitamin D, hormones and compounds that assist with digestion. Every cell membrane needs cholesterol, which supports intracellular transport, nerve conduction and cell signaling.

You can get cholesterol from animal-based foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy items like milk and cheese, but you don’t need these foods to get cholesterol. Although your body can make all the cholesterol it needs, many of us consume too much cholesterol and struggle to keep our cholesterol at safe levels.

To reach every cell in your body, cholesterol travels through the bloodstream while attached to two types of lipoprotein: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). In general, LDL is known as the “bad” cholesterol, while HDL is considered “good.” LDL cholesterol can stick to the walls of your arteries, increasing the chance you’ll get heart disease because the heart muscle must work harder to pump blood through narrower channels. Cholesterol can be lowered through diet, exercise and/or medication.

Previous Guidelines Inadequate

The new guidelines replace those from five years ago. Those previous recommendations were troubling on numerous accounts, according to Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. The 2013 advice omitted components such as family history, overemphasized risks associated with statin drug therapy at lower thresholds, and rejected target levels for LDL cholesterol, which provided finite goals for patients.
People with LDL levels of 100 or below "tend to have lower rates of heart disease and stroke, supporting a 'lower is better' philosophy," according to a statement issued by the medical organizations regarding the new guidelines. A level of LDL above 160 is considered “very high.” The new guidelines suggest that high-risk patients aim to lower this number below 70. Patients who have previously had a heart attack or stroke may need to add another drug if statins don’t do the trick. The medication Ezetimibe, also available as a generic, can be used. Patients at extremely high risk can add a PCSK9 inhibitor.

This new attitude encourages medical professionals and patients to discuss a broad array of risk factors, including family history and ethnicity, and the presence of other conditions such as metabolic syndrome, premature menopause and chronic kidney disease.

Cholesterol at Every Age

Previously, high cholesterol in older patients was often left untreated. However, the new recommendations recognize the importance of healthy cholesterol levels at every age.

“They now acknowledge that it might be appropriate to treat older people,” says Nissen. “Today’s 75-year-old can live a long time.”

High-risk children can be treated as young as age two. Most youngsters should have their first cholesterol test between the ages of nine and 11, followed by another test between the ages of 17 and 21. The accumulation of cholesterol, even at these early ages, can have a big impact on the likelihood of heart disease later in life.

Does Cholesterol Matter for Older Adults?

While it is well known that cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, some studies have shown that it does not increase the risk of dying from heart disease in adults in their 70s or 80s. So can older adults stock up on deep-fried butter balls?

Not so fast, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of the Lipid Clinic at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. “If someone has made it to that age and hasn’t had problems from their cholesterol, they may have gotten lucky with genes or other protective factors,” he says. But high cholesterol isn’t harmless, and that luck could run out.

Managing high cholesterol in older adults can be complicated by other prescription drugs that could interact negatively with the statins that are usually prescribed to lower cholesterol. In some patients, the side effects could outweigh the benefits of statins. “It requires extra care and discussion to figure out the best decision for each patient,” Martin says.

Coronary Calcium Artery Score Controversial

However, Nissen does have a criticism of the new guidelines in one regard: the suggestion to use a coronary calcium artery score to help determine the need to lower cholesterol in patients for whom the need is unclear. 
The score highlights plaque buildup in arteries via a CT scan, which at the Cleveland Clinic where Nissen works, can run between $500 and $1,000 for one that includes angiography.
"You're radiating somebody to decide whether to use a drug that costs as little as $3 a month, and you're spending a lot of money to do it," Nissen says. "I just don't think it's prudent.”

Heart Disease Is a Killer

Heart disease is lethal. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart attacks and strokes end the lives of more than 836,000 Americans every year, according to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. 

“Having high cholesterol at any age increases that risk significantly," says Dr. Ivor Benjamin, president of the American Heart Association. "That's why it's so important that even at a young age, people follow a heart-healthy lifestyle and understand and maintain healthy cholesterol levels."

Total cholesterol

HDL cholesterol

LDL cholesterol


Less than 200
40 or higher
Less than 100
Less than 149
240 or higher
160 or higher
200 or higher
less than 40

Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Are Changes in Government Benefits for Older Americans on the Horizon?

With Democrats back in the House majority, will they and Republicans agree to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? Is there any chance that hearing, vision and dental will get insurance coverage?

Older Americans are in a uniquely powerful position to influence public policy. They are the fastest-growing age group in the country, maintaining a 75 percent growth rate versus less than 10 percent for other age groups. They also vote more than any other demographic, and more consistently.

The sheer number of older voters gives them a strong voice, making Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid crucial issues in political discourse, regardless of party affiliation. Older adults are not enthused about cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

There is speculation about a meeting of the minds between Republicans and Democrats on numerous policies of concern to older adults. Some proposals are already in place and Republican and Democrat lawmakers may find room for compromise in certain areas.

Social Security

CA significant number of retirees count on Social Security for their living expenses. According to the Social Security Administration, about 43 percent of singles and 21 percent of married couples rely on the program for 90 percent or more of their income. Social Security keeps millions of older Americans out of poverty, but the funds it depends on are expected to be depleted by 2034. A recent government report suggests that benefits are expected to then drop by about 20 percent.

Congressman John Larson (D-Conn.), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security and co-chair of the Expand Social Security Caucus, has a bill to both expand the program’s benefits by setting a floor of minimum payments and to raise revenue. Democrats will likely propose funding options, including a restored estate tax and raising the earnings cap (the maximum amount of annual earnings on which you pay Social Security taxes) beyond the 2019 ceiling of $132,900, as well as asking both workers and employers to pay an increased percentage of wages.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed changing the annual cost of living adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index to lower, “chained” adjustments that factor in substitution bias. Substitution bias means that consumers buy less expensive items to lessen inflation’s impact on their standard of living, for example, buying chicken instead of beef. As a result, inflation estimates are lower than if these substitutions were not considered. Such a change would reduce increases tied to inflation, with effects compounding the longer you receive benefits.


Democrats and Republicans have demonstrated their willingness to work together to strengthen Medicare. The bipartisan Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act of 2018 was signed into law under Republicans last year, notably allowing Medicare Advantage programs to offer social benefits such as wheelchair ramps and adult day care coverage for the first time, among other provisions. However, these services are not available from traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Medicare funding is projected to come up short by 2026. Republicans have proposed a plan to give older adults a voucher-type option to enroll in private health plans, while also putting other changes on the table to cut $537 billion from Medicare. Expect Democrats to push against new options and budget proposals to cut Medicare, and instead float recommendations to maintain or expand services. 

Medicare for All

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently agreed on hearings for “Medicare for all”, a plan for single-payer Medicare that would cover all Americans. The House Budget Committee is putting together an analysis, with the Democrats’ goal to “defend and enhance what’s in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and then move towards Medicare for all,” says Rep Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

The promise of Medicare for all is free health care, meaning no more premiums, deductibles or copays, and coverage for vision, dental and hearing. Of course, nothing is really free, and Republicans oppose the prospect of funding the program (including increased taxes), as well as its Socialist aspect, and the loss of private insurance plans.

Progressive Democrats are pushing for a vote in Congress, but party chairmen have made it clear that other health care issues have priority in 2019. What is likely to be more important is how much momentum the movement can gather as the 2020 elections grow near.


To recap, Medicaid is a cooperative insurance program between the federal government and the states that covers about 75 million low-income adults and children. The Feds set required minimum standards and benefits. States may broaden the benefits for their residents, including instituting the Medicaid expansion program under the ACA, but can't cut back on the federal minimum services.

In the midterm elections, Medicaid expansion was on the table in several states. Voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah approved ballot initiatives to broaden the program, and Maine voters elected a new governor, pushing out an ardent opponent of Medicaid expansion. Virginia increased support to the state’s Medicaid program.

Other states-- Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana and New Hampshire -- have started, or are scheduled to start, work requirement programs to qualify for expanded Medicaid, and seven more are pursuing the idea.

Recently, reports came out that Republican lawmakers are again working on legislation to institute block grants for Medicaid. Currently, whoever qualifies for the program is covered. Under block grants, states would each get a lump sum from the federal government to manage the program as they would like. Republicans argue that block granting would increase efficiency and cap costs. Democrats foresee inadequate funding and loss of coverage for millions of Americans.

Other Programs

Protections afforded older Americans under the ACA, such as not being forced to pay an age penalty for health insurance, will likely remain in place. Expect popular health care protections, such as coverage of preexisting conditions, to be debated and potentially supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

More than half a million Americans have no access to a retirement savings plan with their employer, according to AARP research, which shows that such a plan increases the likelihood of employees saving money significantly. Rep. Richie Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, has proposed the Automatic Retirement Plan Act to require more employers to establish a 401(k) or 403(b) to cover all employees, among additional provisions.

Other ideas on the floor are to expand the system to cover new safe harbor rules, increase minimum default contributions, enhance matching contributions and create a special tax credit to encourage participation.

Both parties may be likely to compromise. In the next two years, we may see a retirement policy that benefits more older adults under the age of 70 who are working and still eligible to contribute to qualified (tax-deferred) employer retirement plans. 

Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Connecting the Generations

Innovative programs across the country are maximizing the many benefits to all when generations mix. 

Often in life, we find ourselves divided by age. In school, then at work and again in retirement communities. Many talk about helping older adults, but it’s also younger people who need help. Young, old and in-between are meant to live together and interact.

For instance, older people traditionally teach and take care of the young. The relationship benefits everyone. Parents get a little time off and receive emotional support and advice from older adults who have already raised a generation. Older adults get a second chance to spend time, a resource that many have more of, with children. They can model and teach empathy, character and unconditional love. Children remind their older relatives and friends  how to play, be in the moment and not worry about an end goal. They encourage joy, hope and love while providing an endless source of diversion.

As many families are spread across the miles, many communities are rethinking the idea of separating age groups, coming up with innovative ways to combine generations for the benefit of all. Let’s look at some successful programs around the country.

Common Unity pairs high schoolers in Topeka, Kansas, with adult mentors who help them navigate basic life skills. Often city employees, the mentors, teach financial literacy and budgeting, and assist the kids with applying to colleges or trade schools. They may also take part in community service projects together.

The program began at Highland Park High School. City officials are eager to see it spread across Topeka so that every child of high school age has a mentor to guide them to adulthood.

Fostering Hope is the brainchild of pediatrician Dr. Angela Carron, who left medicine after 21 years when research showed the treatment she was providing child abuse victims didn’t work. She asked herself if unconditional love could become a program.

“A large system and talk therapy aren’t designed to provide what young people need most—stability and long-term connections with at least three people who are irrationally crazy about them,” Carron says. Give kids that, she added, and it will make “all the difference between thriving and not.”

Older volunteers from faith communities around Colorado Springs, Colorado, serve as extended family for foster families. They may take children to the library, help them learn to drive or guide them in how to find affordable housing—all while providing that essential component of love without qualifiers. Some adult volunteers stick with kids from infancy to young adulthood.

Does it work? While 20 percent of foster kids nationally graduate from high school, almost all the kids mentored through Fostering Hope do. Plus, these children are three times more likely to be adopted than other teens in foster care.

Nuns and Nones forms a bond between two groups: religious sisters and Millennials, who are likely to check “none” on the Census form’s religious affiliation box. The sisters share wisdom, sacred spaces and a passion for social issues, while the Millennials find mentors for tackling social problems like economic inequality.

“We’re pioneering something the world desperately needs,” says Milicent Johnson, a Millennial. “Two groups that you would think are totally opposite—nuns and millennials—coming together and having the most beautiful, candid, soul-bearing, life-altering conversations. I think we can help inspire other communities to try to begin to talk more to each other.”

The group spreads its message in several ways, including local gatherings, shared social issues work, spiritual practice and co-living residences.

Read to Me International’s (RTMI) Haku Mo’olelo program is a pioneer project with the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state’s eight correctional facilities. Older adults volunteer to help incarcerated women write, illustrate and publish storybooks for their children.

The books are sent home, together with audio recordings, to help children remember and connect with their mothers. The sudden separation of a child and parent can be deeply traumatic for both and the program maintains connectedness and builds literacy in both moms and children. is an unusual program out of Gainesville, Virginia, that pairs low-income teens with older adults who are willing to learn a non-violent, sports-focused video game. The intergenerational friendship has a mentorship aspect as the older adult helps the youth with college applications.

The program is also creating job experiences for the teens. In the first half of 2018, 600 companies in 28 states created 2,500 Esports jobs. Interestingly, nearly half of adults over 50 play video games.

Providence Mount St. Vincent Assisted Living’s Intergenerational Learning Center has been inundated with visits from people around the globe since being featured in a 2015 documentary, Present Perfect, by filmmaker Evan Briggs. The film features the daily interactions among the day care center’s 125 children and the assisted living facility’s 400 adult clients with an average age of 92.

Children in the day care make daily visits to the older adults to share music, art, a meal or just a greeting. The connections are more than the sum of their parts, according to Marie Hoover, director of the learning center for infants to 5-year-olds.

"The activity a teacher may have planned is nowhere near as important as the love between the two age groups," she says. "When I talk to people who want to bring this model to their hometowns, I emphasize the importance of that. The activities are the vehicle to spread the love.”

The Intergenerational School in Cleveland, Ohio, is the result of a geriatric neurologist married to a developmental psychologist, naturally. Peter and Catherine Whitehouse launched the charter school with the idea that learning shouldn’t be segregated by age.

"We reject the idea that age should be how you organize learning. Learning is a lifelong process and we should invite learners of all ages to participate in learning activities," says Peter Whitehouse. The school's first intergenerational program—a one-on-one reading program—continues to be the most important.

"Because of their circumstances, many of the children don't have early literacy skills," Whitehouse says. "We train our volunteers that their job is not to teach reading skills, it's to teach a love of books and to use books as a way to have rich conversations."

Maple Knoll Village is a nonprofit continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, where youngsters are a common sight throughout the 54-acre campus, thanks to the Maple Knoll Montessori Child Center located there.

Along with older residents, kids garden, learn carpentry or blow bubbles. The kids like to visit their “Grandfriends” for weekly art classes. Children assume teaching roles as they help residents with dementia play matching games or put together puzzles. The kids benefit from added resources such as the pottery studio and radio station. The constant contact helps the children get over any reluctance to approach older adults.

"Many times I've had parents say that their child doesn't ignore older people when they're out and about in public, and that the children are more helpful and empathetic. The interactions bring an awareness of older adults to them,” says Meri Fox, director of the center.

ONEgeneration is a nonprofit pairing adult and child day care program participants for activities like cooking, crafting or rocking a baby. With daily interaction, both children and adults refer to each other as “neighbors.”

"You really do see the benefit to both populations. It's a very special program," says Anna Swift, adult program director, whose own son attended the child care center. She says that when their older adult population, who often feels very dependent, interacts with the children, “they get that adult role back, they feel needed, and have the opportunity to teach and instruct.”

One man with early onset Alzheimer’s connected with a little girl, reading to her and helping her get to sleep at nap time. His wife claimed the program had “given her husband back” to her. “We have dinner conversation again,” she said.

The program in Van Nuys, California enrolls 120 children and 100 adults with an average age of 85.

The Tiny Tiger Intergenerational Center in Marshfield, Wisconsin, arose out of high school student demand for a facility where they could gain hands-on experience caring for older adults and children. The child care center and adult day care opened six years later. Students can volunteer and work at both facilities to prepare for careers in human services.

A welcome but unexpected benefit arose when adults in day care started visiting the children, whether to rock a baby to sleep, color with a toddler or read a book. 

Activities to Connect Generations

Cooking. Everyone likes to eat, and older adults have decades of kitchen experience to pass down. Invite a group of people of all different ages over for a pasta party or pancake cook-off.

Game playing. Some older adults are up for a summer game of tag, or Twister indoors. Almost anyone enjoys a card or board game where skills of patience, fairness and taking turns are inevitably part of the process. Teens can show older adults how much fun video games can be.

Physical activity. Something as simple as taking the dog for a walk can lead to great conversations. How about a yoga class or shooting some hoops? Building a snowman, sledding or riding the lazy river at a recreation center are just a few of hundreds of activities different generations can enjoy together.

Classes. Partner up for an art class, nature walk or library event. Learn to cook, sew or change the oil. Learn Pilates or the right way to brush your teeth … almost anything is available on YouTube for free if you can’t find a local offering.

Projects. Make a quilt, build a rocket or create jewelry together. Plant a garden, decorate a window or make a scene in a shoebox. Paint a room together or enlist youngsters to help with your shed-building endeavor.

Outings. Ask an older neighbor to play mini golf or see a movie. Take an acquaintance out for a smoothie or coffee. Invite someone to sit with you at a dog park or fountain to watch others or stroll along a street in a pretty neighborhood.

Writing to Cure Loneliness

Some older adults have no family or friends to connect with, a fact Marlene Brooks discovered the day she found a neighbor’s heartbreaking letter in her mailbox. It read:

Mrs. ?
Would you consider to become my friend. I’m 90 years old—live alone and all my friends have passed away. I am so lonesome and scared. Please—I pray for someone.

Brooks wrote her neighbor back, starting a rewarding relationship that continued even when her neighbor moved to assisted living. But she realized there were many other older adults like her neighbor, so she started a Facebook page called Pen Pals for Seniors

The site matches participants who would like to have a pen pal. You can also fill out a form to request a pen pal on behalf of an older adult.

"The child's need to explore and interact can alleviate the older adult’s boredom and loneliness, and the child's need for guidance can alleviate the older person’s helplessness," explains Jennifer Fredrick, career and technical education coordinator for the Marshfield School District.”

Additionally, the high schoolers get an opportunity for real-life learning, bestowing greater awareness and empathy. Classes in caregiving and life span development, combined with activities to connect generations and facilitate working with children and older adults, enable the teens to get a career jump on most youth their age.

Senior Housing with a Twist

Senior living has taken a new turn, thanks to a novel approach by Deerfield, a Lifespace Retirement Community in Urbandale, Iowa. Staff partnered with a nearby university to invite a college student to live in the community for a semester, offering free board and meals in exchange for musical performances.

“What I wanted to gain was stories that the people who live at Deerfield have to offer,” says Haley Jenkins, the Drake University senior who answered the call. “I really do love older people and sharing their life experiences, whether that be in college, or where they grew up or advice they want to give me. I really love that opportunity to learn and talk with them about the different experiences. And vice-versa, to share that with them.”

The classically trained vocalist and music major took her assignment seriously, purchasing books of oldies, jazz and big band to round out her repertoire in hopes of connecting with the older aduts. In turn, Deerfield hopes to achieve a sense of normalcy more like outside life and keep the residents from feeling isolated.

“It’s part of a healthy community to have people mixing from different generations,” says James Robinson, executive director of Deerfield. “It’s good for the older adults who live here at Deerfield to be able to share their hopes, dreams, ambitions with someone that is Haley’s age, who has her own hopes, dreams, ambitions. They overlap in a lot of ways.”

Exposing more people who are Haley’s age to senior living communities may get them thinking about a career option for themselves, muses Robinson. He hopes other senior communities can model what Deerfield is doing.

“I would encourage the industry to think about what successful aging means,” he says. “I think aging successfully means to have people of all ages together. They don’t necessarily have to be living together under one roof but have opportunities for people of all ages to come together. If that results in a relationship with a university like Deerfield has with Drake, that’s outstanding. From our perspective, it’s been well worth it.”

Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

10 Disruptors to Bet On

The developed world is on the verge of another wave of technical innovation. Which innovations are likely to grow and prosper?

The future is already here, and stock investors know that old stalwarts such as General Electric and Sears aren’t  as profitable anymore. Even the FANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google) have started to face market challenges, so where is the hot growth technology for retail and the market now?

The global research team at Citi put their heads together and identified innovations that have recently morphed so that, according to the team, “We’re now at the point of accelerated adoption.”

Here are 10 areas that look poised for strong growth:

1. All-Solid-State Batteries

Chalk this one up to the increasingly competitive, and growing, lineup of electric vehicles. All-solid-state batteries have triple the power density and double the energy density of their lithium-ion cousins.

“The emergence of all-solid-state batteries may disrupt the current situation and greatly accelerate market uptake of battery electric vehicles,” says analyst Arifumi Yoshida.

“Research-to-date reveals a clear potential in terms of safety, resistance to leakage, resistance to combustion, miniaturization, flexibility of design in terms of direct layer formation for cells, relative long discharge cycle lifespan, lack of degradation thanks to good high/low temperature properties, short charge times, high energy density and high power,” the analyst says.

2. Medicines to Increase Life Span

Recent scientific breakthroughs have allowed researchers to get a better handle on why humans age. This will enable the development of products that could stretch out lifespans.
“With scientific breakthroughs emerging this decade on the cellular origins of why the tissues in our bodies age, novel anti-aging medicines may become one of the next big disruptions in the health care market,” says analyst Yoga Nochomovitz.

Analysts pointed to a pair of companies, Unity Biotechnology and Calico (a subset of tech giant Google) as already working on therapies to increase the span of life free from age-related disease. New products could be on the market in 2023. Age-related disease treatment is currently a $100 billion industry.

3. Big Data and Health Care

Experts project that by 2020, data production in the health care field will increase to 15 times the level of only five years ago. This huge increase in health care data creates a broad playing field for competitors in wearable technology, as well as future applications.

To create what may be the perfect storm, this influx of data intersects with rising health care costs, an aging population and a shortage of clinicians. Opportunities in big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning are on the rise to take a bite out of costs, while putting more personal information in the hands of consumers.

One large source of data: electronic health records. Government intervention spurred their growth, and their adoption is nearly universal, with 96 percent of hospitals and 87 percent of physicians reporting their use in 2015.

4. Autonomous Vehicle Networks

Robotaxis are coming. The addressable revenue market in the U.S. is $900 billion, and the perceived profit for a fleet of 100,000 autonomous vehicle (AV) subscribers is estimated at $2.5 billion for the life of the vehicles.

Citi’s team believes the era of driverless cars will transform vehicles from a consumer product to a network, which will have both on-demand and subscriber business models. Safety will be vastly improved, and computing power and connectivity will alleviate congestion by pooling passengers. Additionally, all-electric cars will ease pollution.

While rural areas or regions with pickup-type vehicles may not adopt self-driving cars as quickly, experts see a future with driverless car services dominating suburban and urban markets. Subscription services will combine the best attributes of personal ownership with the benefits of AVs.

5. Floating Offshore Wind Farms

Europe has the greatest potential sea sites for floating offshore wind power generation platforms. Two-thirds of the North Sea is in the sweet spot, between 50 and 220 meters deep. Wind power demand continues to increase across the world as a clean, ecological energy source.

6. Dynamic Spectrum Access

Wireless spectrum that currently goes unused will be more efficiently utilized through spectrum sharing, creating trillions of dollars in value. Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) allows multiple users to share a particular national spectrum band, ideally in a secure and reliable way. Compare it to the more familiar Airbnb and Uber platforms that allow customers to share a reservation and payment
system for the benefit of all in the network.

To encourage the flow of capital, policymakers chose to treat wireless as a competitive industry, free of significant regulations. Spectrum is a finite resource, and exclusive users have an incentive to monetize their bandwidth. The DSA framework can share bands among multiple users, based on emerging technologies such as game theory, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

7. Esports

Organized, professional gaming has created an explosion of fans around the globe who watch tournaments of video games such as the popular Halo, League of Legends and Fortnite. Esports event viewership is on par with American football and expected to grow by about 15 percent by 2023.

Think of the more traditional FIFA World Cup soccer event. In a similar way, professional esports fans convene to watch their favorite teams compete, while many additional millions tune in to watch a livestream or event highlights. The games can be played across a variety of hardware, but PCs predominate in tournaments due to their superior computational power and speed.

“In 2017, there were 588 major esports events that generated an estimated $59 million in ticket revenues, up from 424 events and $32 million in ticket revenues in 2016,” Citi analyst Asiya Merchant says. “As the esports industry evolves, we expect to see significant development in the underlying infrastructure (player salaries, contracts, governance, college sponsorships, media deals) that can help improve the economics for the entire ecosystem.”

8. 5G Technology

The advent of 5G is coming next year, and telecommunications will be forever changed. While it’s unlikely to show major improvements in smartphones, the potential is massive in areas such as connected and autonomous vehicles, smart manufacturing, digital health and smart cities.

“The so-called Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) connectivity has allowed wireless carriers to dream beyond smartphones and imagine a larger addressable market,” says analyst Michael Rollins.

“A 2015 McKinsey study estimated the global IoT market will be worth $4 trillion to $11 trillion annually by 2025, with spending on IoT technology to be $300 billion to $800 billion,” he adds. “Creating small private networks, either in a single building or distributed across multiple locations, has long been the purview of wired access solutions augmented with limited wireless or Wi-Fi networks. With 5G, that could be reversed given the lower cost of installing, maintaining and updating a wireless network.”

9. Real Estate Market Disruptors

Watch out, realty firms. Experts estimate that switching to an iBuyer (see below) market for residential real estate transactions may lower total transaction expenses for the seller from 8 to 6.5 percent. That’s a hefty increased profit for home sellers of $13,000 to $16,000 on a $200,000 property. Nearly $1.5 trillion changes hands annually for residential real estate in the U.S.

If you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you may have stressed over keeping the home show-ready, worked with difficult parties on the other side of the transaction, or sweated out the loan underwriting process. An increasing array of financial technology (Fintech) firms are disrupting the industry with new models that take the anxiety out of buying and selling property.

Disruptive Shopping

In a surprise move, supermarket chain Kroger announced a completely new system that will make shopping easier and faster and requires fewer employees, saving the company money.

Partnering with Microsoft, Kroger has developed software that communicates with customers’ smartphones to direct them to items on their list as they shop, then highlights the correct product among an ocean of competing brands that can look almost identical. Customers can scan items as they go in their cart, saving themselves the monotony of standing in line at checkout.

Prices will be displayed digitally, allowing Kroger to change them at a moment’s notice. If thousands of customers have the same item on their list, it’s easy to imagine the cost going up. Similarly, less popular items could be discounted instantaneously from a central location. No more missing sales tags or finding outdated prices, and Kroger will have access to customer shopping preferences.
In testing, the service has dramatically cut down on the time employees need to fill product orders for online shopping and curb pickup.

But Kroger isn’t keeping the innovation all to itself. Developed with the help of Microsoft’s cloud computing service, Azure, the software is being marketed to other retailers around the globe. It will compete directly with Amazon Go concept stores, where customers are automatically charged as they leave.

Three models of disruption are currently in use, with more to come.

  • Buyer Model. Several companies in both public and private spheres are making offers at discounted prices for a quick close. The owner often doesn’t have to make repairs, and there’s no plumping pillows or picking up after the kids while prospective buyers traipse through.
  • Customer-Led Vertical Integration. In this model, a company identifies potential buyers to find homes. When a buyer has made a decision, the company pays cash for the property and carries it while the buyer arranges financing. The cash offer from the company can secure a property in a hot market for a buyer who doesn’t have the requisite funds on hand.
  • Fixed Fees. The company charges a fixed fee to sellers in turn for an MLS listing, access to a real estate attorney and escrow agent and/or title company.

10. Smart Voice-Activated Assistants

Media measurement and analytics company Comscore estimates that half of all searches will be initiated by voice in 2020. Voice-activated assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are going mainstream due to improvements in voice recognition, natural language processing and improved connectivity.

The rapid adoption of the assistants is fueling a rise in task performance as they learn based on the reams of data processed. Currently used for simple jobs like setting alarms and finding information from the web, future iterations will be capable of more complicated jobs such as completing a transaction based on historical patterns. Be on the lookout for conversational commerce, voice-based payments and speech recognition security systems.


For a deeper look into the above technologies, go to Citi’s report: Disruptive Innovations VI.

Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Creating a Vital Social Network: MeetUp for Women Over 50

One woman found a creative way to expand her social network with new women friends and prevent loneliness from settling in.

When Dale Pollekoff, 71, moved to Los Angeles after retirement for the weather and a panoply of lifestyles, she found it hard to make new friends. “When you’re middle-aged, you make friends in your job,” she says. “After that, it’s very, very hard.”

She looked online to help solve the problem, but although there were many groups for varied interests and particular activities, and general meetups for those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, she couldn’t find one for women like herself.

MeetUp Group Solves Need

So she started one. Finding Female Friends Past Fifty was born. The MeetUp group had about 200 members after only a few weeks; currently, it’s 800 members strong and growing.

The group’s first event was a happy hour, and 20 people showed up. “Everybody had a fabulous time, and everybody got along,” Pollekoff remembers. Two women were sitting next to each other and “it turned out that they lived within two blocks of one another. They are best, inseparable friends now.”

As might be expected, members have a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. Thus, the activities cover a broad range, from a screening of the documentary film “Free Solo” to a “carb crawl” focused on local bread makers. Art museums are a common destination, often followed by a meal out together.

Varied Members

New members constantly come into the group, attracted by the wide variety of events or simply the opportunity to connect with peers. Julie Khalis, 62, was looking for a group to join after her son suggested she find hiking buddies.

“I feel like women have a lot of commonality that we don’t realize,” Khalis says. “I’ve learned that at this stage in life, after years of putting our careers and families first, we are looking for a deeper type of friendship than we’ve had in the past.”

Fifty-six-year-old Flor Covel joined the group a couple of years ago after the break-up of a long relationship. “I thought, now I have no friends and no one to hang out with,” she remembers. “It was very lonely.”

Solution Has Limitations

However, because the group draws on such a vast area, it can be hard to nurture relationships.

“I’ve met a lot of wonderful women,” Pollekoff says. “Most of my members I really, really like and I’ve made a lot of friends who are more than acquaintances, but less than besties. But I’ve made one really good friend that I know is really there for me. A friend that lives in Santa Monica or Malibu, I can’t see much.”

Important Role

Still, the group fulfills an important need. Studies show a significant relationship between loneliness and depression. Although we hear a lot about the vital need to eat well and exercise, less is said about keeping and forming friendships, which are just as critical to good health, especially as we grow older, according to research.

“At this age, you are who you are,”  says Pollekoff. “You’re not looking over the horizon for the next best thing. So there’s no jealousy or competition. The struggle is over, you [accept] who you are...” And what an invaluable state of being that is.  

Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit


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Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

February 2 - Christie Brinkley, model, designer and actress

Christie Brinkley was discovered in a Parisian post office. She’d moved to Paris to study art after four years in a French high school in Los Angeles and soon had several modeling contracts. Her career put her on over 500 magazine covers, including Rolling Stone, Vogue, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated; all 12 months of the first Sports Illustrated Calendar; and gave her an astounding 25-year contract as the face of Cover Girl.

Her face was hard to miss throughout the 80s and beyond. Brinkley branched out to represent products besides Cover Girl, including Revlon, Diet Coke, Prell and the Got Milk? campaign. She also made several television appearances, and was featured in several music videos for beau Billy Joel, including the iconic “Uptown Girl,” a song he wrote about her.

Brinkley’s personal life is as varied as her professional career. She had a relationship with Moet-Chandon champagne heir Olivier Chandon de Brailles (which ended when he died in a practice-session car race a year after their meeting), and four marriages and several children: to French artist Jean-Francois Allaux; American singer/songwriter Billy Joel, and having daughter Alexa Ray; real estate developer Richard Taubman, with whom she had son Jack Paris; and in 1996, architect Peter Halsey Cook and having daughter Sailor.

Brinkley resides in Sag Harbor and donates heavily in support of animal welfare.

February 2 - Ina Garten, aka Barefoot Contessa, author and cooking show host

Successful cooking show host and cookbook author Ina Garten once had a pilot’s license and was a staff member of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Raised by a mother who shooed her out of the kitchen in favor of educational pursuits, Ina met her future husband at age 15 and married at 20. After he finished a military tour in Vietnam, the couple took a camping vacation in Paris, where she began her lifelong passion with French cooking.

But first, there was the master’s from George Washington University, the government job as an aide that worked up to writing the nuclear energy budget for Ford and Carter and flipping houses on the side. The last gave her enough money to quit the job she found stimulating but stressful and buy a small specialty food store named Barefoot Contessa that would springboard a new career.

Ina kept the store’s name and created recipes that had clients hungry for more. She moved the shop to East Hampton, expanded offerings and enjoyed celebrity and media rave reviews. An empire followed, founded on successful cookbooks and a show of her own in 2002.

Rare criticism of her cooking comes from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, citing the extensive use of high-fat, high-calorie and high-cholesterol recipes. She also reportedly disdains some common ingredients, such as cilantro and pre-grated Parmesan.

Garten and her Yale professor husband have no children, but many friends, and Ina sits on the local architectural design review board.

February 15 - Matt Groening, cartoonist and writer

Matt Groening (pronounced GRAY-ning), developed the television cartoon sitcom The Simpsons after a successful run with his comic strip, Life in Hell. The Simpsons has aired a record 651 shows, making most of America familiar with characters Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie -- all names taken from Groening’s family members. Only “Bart” is different, although Groening says the character is based on older brother Mark.

After childhood in Portland, Oregon, Groening attended “a hippie college with no grades or required classes.” He edited the campus newspaper and included some cartoons of his own. Afterward, he headed to Los Angeles to become a writer, where to make ends meet, he bused tables, washed dishes and did landscaping.

Groening self-published Life in Hell while writing a weekly column for an alternative newspaper. It was a success right away, inspiring the author to syndicate the strip and eventually author a series of book spin-offs. The comic impressed a Hollywood writer-producer, which led to the development of The Simpsons. Groening also developed Futurama, about life in the year 3000, and television series Disenchantment.

Groening’s two marriages resulted in five children. He is married to Argentine artist Agustina Picasso and is stepfather to her daughter. He occasionally plays drums in the all-author band The Rock Bottom Remainders, which includes celebrities such as Dave Barry and Amy Tan.

February 18 John Travolta, actor

John Travolta’s acting debut in Welcome Back, Kotter led to a series of iconic performances in films such as Saturday Night Fever, Grease and Pulp Fiction. Nominated for a Golden Globe Award six times, he eventually won as best actor in a motion picture (musical or comedy) for his work in Get Shorty.

Travolta’s mother was an actress and singer, who undoubtedly influenced her son’s future career, and that of other family members. Travolta’s sister, Ellen, appeared in Welcome Back, Kotter as Arnold Horshack’s mother and as a waitress in Grease, and she and their mother had brief roles in Saturday Night Fever.

Travolta had a hit single in July 1976 when “Let Her In” peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, after a series of commercial successes including Urban Cowboy, his film career faltered. He passed up opportunities to star in box office hits such as An Officer and a Gentleman and American Gigolo, which Richard Gere accepted.

In 1989, Look Who’s Talking put him back on the map, and 1994’s Pulp Fiction cemented him on the A-List. However, sci-Fi film Battlefield Earth, which Travolta co-produced and starred in, failed. Other films such as Swordfish succeeded, and the actor has since kept busy primarily in action films and thrillers.

Travolta, an avid pilot, is married to actress Kelly Preston; the couple had three children. Their oldest, son Jett, died from a seizure at age 16. Travolta created the Jett Travolta Foundation to help children with special needs and supports many charitable causes, notably flying his Boeing 707 full of supplies and doctors to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. 

Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit


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Monday, February 25, 2019

2025: Get Prepared with Intergenerational Engagement

Guest Blog Provided by Andrea J. Fonte Weaver

We are just 6 years away from a time when our population will dramatically change. Because by 2025, according to the US Census, people over 65 years of age will outnumber youth under 13. This population shift will create many opportunities and challenges which is why we must be prepared.

As we talk with our colleagues in the longevity and aging space, we often hear the stories of older adults who impacted us during our youth. From grandparents to great-aunts and uncles, neighbors, librarians and even mentors at work – they took us under their wings and helped us learn to fly. We had a desire to help them, as well. We experienced rich, interdependent relationships which bridged generations. They left imprints on our hearts and spirits that helped usher us into this field.

With the demographic changing, we need people who are committed to working for and with older adults. Unfortunately, there are fewer organic or informal opportunities for young people to spend time with older adults and they are not necessarily experiencing the power of elders. We now live in an age-segregated society. Most of us spend our days with people in our own age cohort – or cohorts just above or below us. There are a variety of reasons for this including changes in our families, economics, housing, technology and more.

Thankfully, many in the longevity fields are working to make our communities more age-friendly and to help individuals reframe the aging narrative from one of doom and gloom to that of activity and possibility. Every now and again in these movements, we hear about intergenerational engagement – the stories seem so nice and may appear to be fluffy. In reality, intergenerational engagement which purposefully engages skipped, non-adjacent generations is critical. When done well, they support the well-being of all involved.

Intergenerational programs are a vaccination against ageism and a prescription for longevity.  Research has shown that engaging the bookend generations addresses the following issues we are now facing:
  • The roots of ageism can be seen in children as young as three years of age, suggesting that earlier intervention is required. Current approaches do not adequately address how ageism and age segregation have played important roles in today’s older adults being socially isolated.
  • Social isolation is on the rise for both older adults and young people. This leads to diminished physical and cognitive well-being with financial consequences. The health detriments of this isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day!
  • There are glaring gaps in the education of young people about the longevity dividend and how they can benefit from it, personally and professionally. 
“Intergenerational” becomes a lens with which we not only treat but heal the roots of these social ills. Intergenerational engagement can easily be woven into any of the other efforts we are making – and in doing so, we improve the lives of many more people, uniting families and communities.

Here are some ways that you can help prepare for 2025 in your personal life:
  • Reframe your own aging. What do you expect your life will be like in 10, 20, 30, 50 years? Research has shown that our attitudes about our own aging affect our health outcomes and longevity! Start thinking positively!
  • Check your language. Do you use terms like “old enough” or “can still…” – as in she is 92 and can still…
  • Begin to recognize ageism – that cuts both ways. There is the “invisibility of aging” where older adults are not recognized or respected. But there is an ageism against youth – with fears that they are trouble or incompetent, especially economically.
  • Start a meaningful conversation with someone in a skipped, non-adjacent generation – both at work and at home.
  • Learn about the benefits of strong intergenerational programs and then...
  • Be an intergenerational champion. Be a change agent that helps to make your community more intergenerational. Bridges Together has many tools and trainings to help you be successful and effective bridging the generations.
Join with others in the longevity fields who are committed to making intergenerational engagement a priority - incorporating uniting generations into their agenda. In doing so, you:
  • Create opportunities for older adults to engage with young people. Intergenerational programs foster purpose and meaning, which can result in improved well-being and friendships, curbing isolation across the life span.
  • Reverse ageism by exposing young people to positive stories about long, vibrant lives, which has a ripple effect on families, organizations, and communities.
  • Inspire young people about the possibility of entering careers with older adults. After having experienced a rich relationship with someone 65+, youth are more likely to collaborate with and advocate for older adults in their own lives. Intergenerational programs also support young people’s academic development by extending classroom learning, as well as socio-emotional development, especially with face-to-face communication skills.
  • Empower older adults to become advocates and champions for younger people, improving their lives and experiences while stopping ageism against them.
Intergenerational efforts build and strengthen a culture in which people of all ages are welcomed and supported, helping to move a community forward from being age-friendly to truly age-integrated.

Professionals in aging can take concrete steps to support intergenerational approaches:
  • Foster intergenerationally focused leadership in your community. For example, convene a leadership team or task force that draws from constituencies of diverse ages will strengthen all programming.
  • Provide opportunities for casual and formal intergenerational encounters – from starting a public campaign encouraging people to get to know their neighbors to offering formal programming on a regular basis.
  • Establish policies, procedures, and practices that support intergenerational relationships – from including and recognizing age diversity along with other forms of diversity to starting your staff meetings with a question that empowers people to share about their personal lives, providing opportunities for people to see their commonalities regardless of their age. 
  • Committing to share space and resources – from opening up your foyer for chamber group practices to supporting organizations that focus on intergenerational relationships.  
  • Cultivating an atmosphere of age-inclusion beginning by helping people identify their commonalities and including “intergenerational engagement” as a core value in programming.
A comprehensive, multifaceted approach is needed to make our communities age-integrated again. To achieve this, we need each person, regardless of their age, to be recognized as a valuable member with gifts to share and roles to fill. As a professional who is committed to the well-being of older adults, we implore you to be part of the solution by helping create an infrastructure that unites our elders and youth. Through intergenerational pathways and opportunities, positive aging truly becomes a life-long journey and age-integrated communities are fostered. We need to commit to building a world in which places where growing up and growing old are both supported and celebrated. At Bridges Together, we have a white paper with even more information. For your free download, click here:

About the Author

Andrea J. Fonte Weaver is Founder & Executive Director of Bridges Together, Inc., the globally recognized organization dedicated to training and tools that empower leaders to connect generations. She is the author of the award-winning BRIDGES™ Program Curricula which has united 20,000+ older adults and students to explore aging as a lifelong journey. She and her work have received over 7 prestigious awards including 2017 Innovator of the Year from the Massachusetts Council on Aging and 2016 Generations United Program of Distinction. Weaver leads the agenda, content and discussions at The Intergenerational Symposium, an annual event bringing together intergenerational professionals for an exchange of ideas and actionable next steps. Her vision for developing more intentional intergenerational engagement as a key solution toward reducing ageism and curbing social isolation has been applauded by organizations worldwide. She has presented at over 65 conferences and is interviewed and published regularly in aging, education, and other publications. Weaver has received 3 professional certifications adding to her MS in Intergenerational Studies from Boston University – Wheelock College and BA in Sociology with a Gerontology Certificate from the College of the Holy Cross. Follow her on Twitter @BridgesTogether and contact her at