Beware the ‘Befriender’

It’s often true that older people feel lonelier as their children leave the nest, their friends move south and their spouses pass away. That’s one reason they’re particularly vulnerable to new “friends” who in truth are out to exploit them. As Katherine Pearson, a professor at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, explains in the Elder Law Prof Blog, these “befrienders” aim to gain the trust – and eventually access to the assets – of their victims. But if you …

Friends Jump-Start Fitness (and Hotness) Together

As National Women’s Health Week comes to a close, my thoughts turn to physical activity … or lack thereof, which has been my problem. As a working caregiver (for both of my parents), I am typical: I focus on those two necessities of my life first and taking care of myself falls to the bottom of the list. It’s a terrible conundrum – I can’t let my work or caregiving slip, but there are only so many hours in the …

Facebook: Judi Dench Is NOT Your Friend. Stop Asking!

Facebook hates me. I used to think of Facebook as a sort of friend to the friendless. Whatever its societal shortcomings, I reasoned, at least by redefining the term “friend” to mean “any being capable of hitting the ‘accept’ button on a computer screen” Facebook put friendship – or something like it – within reach of just about everybody, no matter how awkward, ugly, or generally unappealing they might be. In other words, it was the perfect place for me. …

Five Steps to Avoid Acting in Haste and Repenting in Leisure

Speed and efficiency have become key values for us. We expect an instant response when we flip a light switch or download a movie on television. We anticipate immediate acceleration when we put our foot on the gas and a reverse but equal response when we brake. We are a nation of fast-food lovers. Computer-mediated communication, whether by email, text messages or phone, allows us to be in touch with anyone on the globe within seconds. Life in the high-speed …

Games for the 50+: Strengthening Friendships

In my last blog post, I described a very large study of 32,000 users of the free online multiplayer game, Wizard101. The study found that not only were the Wizard101 subscribers over 50 playing more every week compared to younger users, but that they also reported social benefits from playing the game, including the ability to make new friends and stay connected to old friends. The virtual world aspect of Wizard101 and similar games provide participants with an opportunity to …

Games for the 50+: Benefits Include Socialization, Activity

At a conference last year, several of us at AARP had the chance to hear about the ways in which the 50-plus and those not quite 50 find benefits in playing online multiplayer games.  There are several parts of that last statement that tend to elicit pushback from others – first, many believe online multiplayer video games are played by teens or young millennial men.  Second, the idea of a multiplayer video game may elicit images of violent games which …