Monthly Archives: May 2012

You Are Never Too Old to Play

Continuing with our theme of the month, May is Older Americans month.  According to the official website of Older Americans Month, from the Administration on Aging (http://www.olderamericansmonth.aoa.gov/),
this year’s theme is “Never Too Old to Play.”  As the body ages, certain tasks may become more difficult or even dangerous – free running, for example – but the act of playing can help keep you healthy longer.  It’s all about finding an activity that works for and with you.  This is easier than ever now-a-days.

  • Try something like Wii Bowling for a fun group activity that gets you moving without being overly strenuous.
  • Charades is another easy, indoor option. A fun scavenger hunt can get people interacting, playing, and moving outdoors, too.
  • For a more sedate option, why not try a game like Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit.  As bonus, games that make you think can help fight symptoms of aging, even reducing risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Other great multi-generational options including park activities like kite flying and bocce ball; crafts like scrapbooking, quilting, or painting;  musical options like dancing (old- or new-fashioned) or singing;  and more active options like yoga or tai chi. Have fun and remember you are “never too old to play.”

 

Is Social Media Accessible?

Social media is pervasive in our society.  We see it in ads; use it to keep touch, share special moments, compare prices, and much more. But for some individuals, social media is simply not a practical means
of communication.  And it’s not just because they’re using dial-up.

For the visually impaired, along with a number of other users with special needs, the internet can be a difficult maze to navigate.  Pictures might not be clear; text may be too small; moving items; poor contrast; generally poor usability.  The W3C, or World Wide Web Consortium, has published web content accessibility guidelines, which set the standards for usability.  They outline the following guidelines:

Perceivable

  • Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
  • Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
  • Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content.

Operable

  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Give users enough time to read and use content.
  • Do not use content that causes seizures.
  • Help users navigate and find content.

Understandable

  • Make text readable and understandable.
  • Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

Robust

  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.

Unfortunately, the largest names in the social media game don’t score very well on those points.  According to mediaaccess.org, “Research conducted in September 2011 by Denis Boudreau of Accessibilité Web compared five social media tools against the WCAG 2.0 guidelines and created a customised percentage score of accessibility. Of the five tools, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the recently launched Google+, LinkedIn received the highest score of 29% accessible followed by YouTube on 18%, Google+ on 9%, Facebook on 9% and Twitter receiving no accessibility score due to every element on the website having accessibility issues.”

While social media has a lot of potential for the disabled user in particular, as a means to
spread information and educate, at this point, the usability has hardly been considered.  Simple changes could make a world of difference to a large chunk of the potential user base of these networks.

High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

May is high blood pressure awareness month, and on this blog I have touched on stress more than once. Stress and high blood pressure are closely linked, and high BP can be harmful to your health. Today we’ll discuss the basics of what one’s blood pressure is, what that means for one’s health, and some basic
rules of thumb to avoid developing high blood pressure.

Your blood pressure is exactly what it sounds like – the amount of pressure acting upon your arteries and veins by your heart as it pumps your blood. High blood pressure [Arterial Hypertension] is a risk because it places strain on the walls of your arteries and veins and can contribute to a wide variety of ills, anything from migraines to heart attacks. High blood pressure is also a factor that increases your risk of stroke later in life.

Stress is something I’ve talked about on this blog from time to time, and is generally a terrible thing for your body. Today’s high stress, hurly-burly lifestyle means that a great many Americans are more stressed than is healthy for them, and your blood pressure is one of the first things that gets worse
as you become more stressed. So try to relax! Some great activities to lower high blood pressure are:

  • If you smoke, stop! Smokers generally have a much higher BP than non-smokers, and it can also cause cancer.
  • Limit your sodium and alcohol intake! Having a diet rich in salt can – you guessed it – raise your BP.
  • Really, relax. Take a moment for yourself during your day, grab a book, or go for a walk outside when the weather is nice…
  • Maintain a healthy weight/lifestyle. Small changes in your day-to-day activities can improve your blood pressure as well as your overall health.