It sounds like a Haiku poem but this is the name of a new research institute on aging (or ageing, as they spell it outside of North America): “Aging Gracefully Across Environments Using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life”. It made me think of all the euphemisms one hears in reference to aging. For example, you often hear aging called an art. I don’t buy it. Where’s the art in turning a year older? Anyone can do it, no one cannot.
Back to the poetically-named Canadian aging outfit. I don’t know about the word “gracefully” but I do understand that contriving a snappy acronym can be tricky. I would also be stumped for a word to use for the G in AGE. Aging grumpily? Grouchily? Those words may be accurate to describe our often grumpy, grouchy old selves, but they don’t make for good PR.
“Aging across environments” is somewhat confusing. Perhaps a reference to diversity, it’s more likely just about the E in AGE. You see, the institute is called AGE-WELL for short. Now I don’t mean to sound like a pernickity old person, but AGE-that’s not actually the acronym for Aging Gracefully across Environments using technology to support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life. Even if you capitalise only the words whose first letters spell AGE-WELL, the acronym should really be AGAEUTSWELL.
Obviously AGE-WELL rolls off the tongue a lot better, and looks nicer in a logo. I do think that “well” is a good word to use in the context of getting older. That’s all we can hope for, isn’t it? To age well. Rather than badly.
However, as catchy as AGE-WELL may be, the acronym leaves out what’s new about this and many recent initiatives on aging: the part about how using technology will keep you well and engaged with the world. With a promise to help you live longer.
Therefore, in recognition of the benefits of older people using technology, My New Old Self offers 3 Top Tek Tips 4 Older People. Please note that these tips – or to use the acronym, TTTOPs – are aimed at the many older people who feel technologically challenged. If these helpful hints are old hat to your digitally proficient old self, well, then bully for you. (Or whatever gets said in your neighbourhood to the annoyingly smug.) Perhaps, rather than smirk at your age-mates’ inadequacies, you’ll consider sharing the advice below. You might turn even out be a role model for the rest of us.
- Don’t Squint – Magnify
Have you heard the internet acronym TLDR, for Too Long Didn’t Read? It’s a common view of youth who prefer text in bite-sized messages, rather than essay-length articles. The acronym for older people could be TSCR, for Too Small Couldn’t Read. So here’s how to stop struggling to read pill bottles in the bathroom at night. Download an app on your phone so you’ll never be without a magnifying glass. Without having to carry one around so you look like you’re attempting a Sherlock Holmes imitation.
There are also ways to magnify digitally. Next time you open a website and see print that is frustratingly tiny, hold down the Control Key (ctrl for PC, cmd on Mac) and press Plus (+). This enlarges the print on the screen. Do it again and again and the words will keep getting bigger. To return the print to its original size, press Control and the Zero key (0).
- Learn a new language
Many studies have shown that it’s good for old brains to learn new languages. I bet you’ll get the same benefits from learning Internet Jargon as you would from studying French or Zulu. So stop feeling clueless about digital technology. When you hear or read a new word or phrase, type it into your computer or phone’s browser and learn what it means. As you gain confidence you can start throwing around new words in conversation to impress people. And you’ll avoid snide comments like this young person’s on Basic Tech Things Old People Just Don’t Understand: “Saying ‘external harddrive’ or ‘the new iOS’ to an Old is like trying to communicate to your friends in Morse code.”
- Talk and Listen More
If you miss the old days when we used to talk to our friends instead of thumb-typing short messages on our phones, then cut down on texting and talk more. If you miss the old days of listening to the radio while you cook or drive, then try listening more. Since radio programs, broadcast at specific times, are like so last century, you can now listen to programmes at your own convenience. Search for podcasts on the net and download them to your computer, memory stick or digital music player. Or if you prefer Old School listening, you can still listen to audio-books on CD and even borrow them from the library.