Senior Focus | October 4, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

- October 4, 2013

Senior Focus

SEEKING FRESH IDEAS ... The Stanford Center on Longevity has put out a global challenge for people to come up with nifty new products and services addressing cognitive impairments faced by many older people. In its Design Challenge, which kicked off Sept. 24, the center is hoping young minds will imagine fresh approaches to problems of memory, concentration and decision-making. The aim is to find solutions that help keep people who are affected by these problems independent as long as possible. "It's a hard topic to solve for, but we hope to get really unique designs that can eventually be put into the marketplace," said Ken Smith, director of the Mobility Division at the longevity center. "We need to get more creative minds looking at these problems," he said. "Universities can often come up with novel solutions. By inviting people from around the globe to tackle this, we could end up seeing designs with a huge payoff for society and individuals." The center expects designs in a number of categories, including reminders (alarms or applications that help people remember names and appointments), locator systems (for people who may get lost), and social networks that help caregivers stay in touch with families who may not live close by. Submitted concepts will be judged in January and finalists will be given financial help to flesh out their design and travel to Stanford to present it. From January until April, finalists will have access to Stanford mentors. The final presentations, in April, will be before a panel of academics, industry professionals, nonprofit groups and investors. The top prize is $10,000, while the second-place team will take home $5,000 and third place will get $3,000. For more information, see

A VILLAGE EXPLAINED ... To mark its sixth anniversary, the virtual retirement community Avenidas Village will hold four open houses in October to explain itself to nonmembers, their families, friends and neighbors. For a membership fee of about $3.50 a day per couple, Avenidas Village offers services including social activities, optional daily phone check-ins, help with transportation and a vetted list of vendors for seniors who wish to stay in their own homes. "Once people understand the concept of how Avenidas Village acts as a 'virtual retirement community,' they want to join for the safety net we provide that allows them to remain in the homes and communities they love while still having access to all the activities and services they want and need as they age," said Executive Director Vickie Epstein. "We keep them active, safe, mobile and connected, and that's what's allowed us to enjoy an average retention rate of 89 percent." Avenidas Village members have one phone number to call for 24/7 support. For example, one member's house was broken into, and after calling the police the member called Avenidas Village, whose staff arranged for a handyman to fix the broken window that afternoon, allowing the member to sleep easier that night. The open houses will be Oct. 10 and Oct. 17 at 10 a.m.; and Oct. 28 and Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. at Avenidas, 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto. To RSVP, call 650-289-5405 or email

ABOUT CAREGIVING ... A series of free seminars for caregivers is underway at the Stanford Health Library addressing topics such as handling isolation, the evolution of living with an illness, a shifting sense of self, and managing emotions and finances. The first two seminars, given in September, were filled to capacity of 50 attendees. But space is still available for seminars Oct. 10 ("I'm So Tired — Strategies for Taking Care of Yourself"); Oct. 24 ("Please listen to Me — Having the Important Conversations"); Nov. 7 ("I Can't Do It All — Getting Help Caring for a Loved One") as well as seminars Nov. 21 and Jan. 9. The sessions are cosponsored by the Stanford Health Library, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford Cancer Institute and the Fremont-based Cancer Prevention Institute of California. The Thursday, 7 to 9 p.m. sessions are at the Health Library, located in the Hoover Pavilion near Stanford Shopping Center at 211 Quarry Road, Suite 201. Reservations are required. Call 650-498-7826 or email

Items for Senior Focus may be emailed to Staff Writer Chris Kenrick at


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