Perils of aging I

Anything that talks about baby boomers tends to catch my eye, particularly since I recently experienced my maiden “Senior Moment.” So as soon as I spotted an article about tech products for baby boomers, I just had to read it.

Admitedly the article was US centric and more than a bit patronising about the ability of the older generation to cope with new technology. I’ve experienced this down at the Post Office where I often lend a hand to those more elderly [than me], to speed things up. Equally, of course, there are plenty of tech-savvy elders – ourselves included. Though the article claims tech products are starting to become more senior-friendly through voice recognition, touch screens and sensors. Its thrust was that the best tech products for elders need to serve a real purpose in their lives, many of whom may suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of cognitive impairment.

Of course, I dismissed most of these innovations out of hand as being for baby boomers so much older than us. As I scrolled through the article I sadly noted no one seems to have yet perfected a robot that can do all or even some of the housework. One of those would be worth their weight in gold. No, most of them seemed intent on keeping track of the elderly in one way or another. No doubt so anxious relatives can ensure they don’t swan off with their inheritance!

There was one however which caught my eye. My beloved would love to have a dog but a) we live in an apartment b) I know I’d end up looking after it and c) he would want a large dog. My beloved always scoffs at small dogs. I think he feels it would be an affront to his masculinity to be seen walking a ball of fluff. That said he’s inordinately fond of his niece and nephew’s dog, a mini dachshund with attitude! So, when I saw this I thought: problem solved!

Ageless Innovation: Joy for All – Companion, life-like pets

A spin-out from the Hasbro toy company has developed fun and engaging, furry, life-like companion pets (pups and kittens), designed to create a connection between them and older adults. The pet responds to voices with little barks or purrs, and even has a heartbeat activated by petting. Its marketing blurb goes on to say:

In between naps and being adorable, real puppies require a lot of special attention. Joy for All Companion Golden Pup has all the love in the world to give but won’t chew up your slipper! [Nor, more importantly, will in wee or poop on your floors.] Thanks to built-in sensors and speakers, the pup can recreate some of the more delightful moments of owning a dog, including being a best friend for aging loved ones.

I watched the video and the puppy appears to be modelled on those cute Labrador ones which promote a well-known brand of toilet paper in the UK. It’s undeniably charming and I could see it bringing comfort and joy to those with cognitive impairment. My mother had Alzheimer’s and I would happily have spent US$119.99 (plus taxes) because I think she’d have enjoyed petting it. Alternatively, she might just have thrown it at me. We’ll never know!

The downside is that you can’t take it for a walk. Lots of the elderly where I live – we’re talking 80 years+ – have small dogs and I regularly see them out walking their dogs and stopping to chat to other neighbours and dog owners. The dog gets them out and about in the fresh air and gives them a connection to others. That might just be why France has so many centenarians!