Arthritis Month

photo6825“Whoever we are, wherever we live, arthritis has changed the life of someone we know, someone we care about – whether we realize it or not.”
~ Janet Yale, president and CEO of The Arthritis Society

To herald in September’s Arthritis Awareness campaign The Arthritis Society (TAS) introduced the Voices of Arthritis video series where five well-known Canadians share their personal journeys living with arthritis.

Lloyd Robertson, age 80, talks about how his journey with arthritis began, ‘about 35 years ago with the fingers, then to the back, then to the knees’. He discusses his commitment to ‘manage it’ and ‘continue on with life as normally as possible’ despite how it gets ‘tougher with time’. He explains that Arthritis research is critical in finding a cure and finding new ways to deal with the symptoms.

This month, the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA) revealed an Arthritis Patient Charter stating the ‘rights and responsibilities that arthritis patients should expect in their care’. According to CAPA, the charter was created because ‘the landscape of arthritis and healthcare continue to change and evolve, and to reflect those changes we wish to provide patients and the community with a tool that states the rights and responsibilities of arthritis patients today’.

Many new technologies have the potential to improve the lives of those living with the painful symptoms of arthritis. Researchers at Loughborough University in the UK have ‘developed a computer software concept that will enable clinicians with no experience in Computer Aided Design (CAD) to design and make custom-made 3D printed wrist splints for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers’. The splints are made more comfortable by scanning the patient’s arm for a personalized fit and have the potential to be less expensive than traditional splints.

3D printers may have the potential to radically change the lives of those suffering from the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis. Researchers at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are studying 3D cartilage printing technology by printing ‘the cartilage stem cells directly into a patient, where needed, using a catheter.’ Lead researcher Dr. Tuan expresses his hope that ‘the methods we’re developing will really make a difference, both in the study of the disease and, ultimately, in treatments for people with cartilage degeneration or joint injuries’.

It is heartening to see so many new and innovative technologies to support individuals with arthritis.


Travel, Older Adults and Accessibility

A recent article in enRoute magazine entitled 3 European Cities for Travellers with Limited Mobility brought to light the growing number of tourist destinations that offer accessible holidays. The cities listed in the article include:

‘Ever since hosting the Summer Paralympic Games in 1992, Barcelona has continued to improve its facilities. With 100-percent-accessible buses, elevators and ramps at many metro stations and silky-smooth streets for wheelchairs, Barcelona is a shining example of how accessible a city can be, making it a beacon for the rest of the world.’

‘Although Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities, its attitude to accessibility is surprisingly modern. It hosted the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games, an event that saw many historic heritage sites become accessible for the first time. While ancient cobbles make some of the roads tricky to navigate, Athens has the most accessible metro system in Europe, with an elevator at nearly every station.’

‘Paris is becoming more disability-friendly every year. A flat city with smooth sidewalks and regular wheelchair-accessible buses, the City of Love is relatively easy to navigate, and most of the top tourist attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, have wheelchair access.’

Another good example of an accessible tourism destination is the United Kingdom. Open Britain ‘allows you to create the perfect holiday for you, tailored specifically to your access requirements, whether this means wheelchair access or just having good lighting’. The site covers everything you need to ‘make the perfect accessible holiday in the UK’ with topics ranging from travelling with medicine to accessible countryside trails. There’s even an option for locating accessible grass-roofed lodges, farm cottages and log cabins available for holiday rental. With captioned theatre devices there is no need to miss out on some of the best theatre in London because of auditory challenges. If you are colourblind using the London underground map can be a challenge. The Colourblind Tube Map is a free app that compensates for several types of impaired vision.

Closer to home, Canadian Paraolympian and philanthropist Rick Hansen has introduced an online tool called planat access matters. This tool allows users to ‘post and search access reviews of buildings around the world. Accessibility is rated from a mobility, sight or hearing perspective.’

Do you have a favourite accessible holiday destination or ideas about how destinations or travel can be made more accessible? We’d love to hear about it.

Creative Aging

maskmakingDr. Gene Cohen’s 2001 seminal study entitled The Creativity and Aging Study revealed that high-quality, professionally conducted, community based arts programs possess ‘powerful positive intervention effects’ for older adults (65+). Participation in arts programs showed a positive impact on the older adult participants’ ‘overall health, doctor visits, medication use, falls, loneliness, morale, and the total number of activities one is engaged in’.

The Centre for Elder Research is committed to seeking innovative ways for older adults of all ages and abilities to actively participate in the creative and performing arts. We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with the Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design at Sheridan College to explore the feasibility of offering a program of intensive workshops and experiences in the creative and performing arts for adults 55+.

In order to plan a comprehensive program that meets the needs and interests of participants, we would appreciate it if you would complete a brief survey by clicking on the link below. The survey will take only about 10 minutes to complete and will be available until October 3rd. This is your chance to tell us what you would like to experience at this kind of summer institute!

Ten Apps for Older Adults

Application software more commonly known as ‘apps’ have become increasingly popular since they were first introduced in 2008. Today apps are able to do everything from delivering detailed weather reports to analyzing your sleep patterns. Hence, the popular phrase ‘there’s an app for that’. There’s even a blog to keep you up to date on the latest apps called Today in the App Store.

Here’s our list of ten useful apps for older adults:

  1. Pandora
    Music possesses therapeutic properties that can improve an individual’s well-being. With this app you can ‘create personalized stations that play only the music you love’.
  2. Goodreads
    Studies have shown that lifelong learning offers increased knowledge and critical thinking skills, improved health and well-being, longer life span, greater likelihood of community and civic engagement, increased creativity and greater self-fulfillment. With over 500 million books recommended by 20 million members you will be able to find the perfect book to suit your interests. You may be interested in ‘The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life’ by Dr. Gene D. Cohen.
  3. Medisafe Medication Manager & Pill Reminder
    Reminds you to take your medication on time and manages your medications. Create a ‘med-friend’ to notify you if you don’t check that you took your medication.
  4. Skype
    Keep in touch with family and friends with a video call on Skype.
  5. HeartWise Blood Pressure Tracker
    Keep track of your blood, resting heart rate and weight.
  6. Silver Surf
    Features large navigation buttons to control the browser, dynamic text zoom up to 200%, high contrast mode to make for easier reading and more for the ’50 plus demographic”.
  7. Lumosity Mobile
    ‘Challenge your brain with games designed by neuroscientists to exercise memory and attention.’
  8. TED Talks
    Short (18 minutes or less) talks covering ‘science to business to global issues’ presented by dynamic speakers. Check out the ‘Older People are Happier’ talk by Laura Carstensen, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.
  9. Mint Personal Finance
    Manage your money by having Mint organize and categorize your spending.
  10. Eye Reader
    Eye Reader turns your mobile device into a magnifying glass.

Do you have a favourite app? We’d love to hear from you.