This Oregon garden is designed for aging in place

As the mirror delights in telling me every morning, I’m not getting any younger.

But at least I have plenty of company.

By 2034, according to Danielle Arigoni, AARP’s director of livable communities (and a 1991 University of Oregon grad), there will be more people 65 and over than there are 18 and under for the first time in U.S. history.

Which is why aging in place — and how best to do it — is such a major issue now, one that will only become more important in the next several decades.

“It’s a massive demographic tipping point,” Arigoni says. A 2018 AARP survey found 75% of those 50 (what I call “those kids”) and over want to age in their own home, and the percentages grew even higher in older age groups.

Much has been written about what to do to make a residence’s interior best suited for homeowners as they age. (See AARP’s very informative — and very free — Home Fit guide.)

But less has been shared about how to make a private garden accessible as people age into their 70s, 80s and 90s. The American Society of Landscape Architects has addressed public spaces and gardens, but not private residences.

Which is where Jane Coombs, a retired landscape designer, comes in.

A few years ago, Jane and husband, Peter Dowse, knew it was time to move out of their beloved 1914 Craftsman in Sellwood. With stairs leading up to the entry, an upstairs master bedroom and a basement laundry room, the home was all the things aging-in-place experts don’t recommend.

So it was that they found themselves in a one-story house in Milwaukie and Jane, with 30-plus years of landscape design experience, had a 10,000-square-foot, relatively blank canvas to work with outdoors.

And in the process of designing her garden, she always kept in mind what would work best for her and her husband 10 years down the road.

“When I’m 90,” she explains, “I won’t be able to maintain the garden the way I can now.”

This thinking led Jane to incorporate aging-in-place design principles in her front and back gardens, many of which we’ve included in the tips.

They include flat, navigable surfaces for wheelchairs and walkers, a step-free entry from inside the house to the patio, easy-maintenance plants, plenty of seating and multiple hose bibs. A LOT of hose bibs. OK, eight, to be exact.

Marcia:

A very dear friend of mine from high school, Oklahoma State University assistant professor Emily Roberts, has her doctorate in environmental gerontology, a field that seeks to optimize the relationship between the elderly and their physical and social environment.

I learned from her that connection to the outdoors and nature can ease and prolong a person’s life, even if it’s just looking out the window from either a hospital bed or your own home. Having access physically or visually to nature is extremely beneficial to our well-being as we age.

The concept of biophilia, originally written

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Pentagon Is Clinging to Aging Technologies, House Panel Warns

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan House panel said on Tuesday that artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space and biotechnology were “making traditional battlefields and boundaries increasingly irrelevant” — but that the Pentagon was clinging to aging weapons systems meant for a past era.

The panel’s report, called the “Future of Defense Task Force,” is one of many underway in Congress to grapple with the speed at which the Pentagon is adopting new technologies, often using the rising competition with China in an effort to spur the pace of change.

Most reach a similar conclusion: For all the talk of embracing new technologies, the politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding — often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts — that the efforts falter.

The task force said it was concentrating on the next 30 to 50 years, and concluded that the Defense Department and Congress should be “focused on the needs of the future and not on the political and military-industrial loyalties of the past.”

“We are totally out of time, and here is a bipartisan group — in this environment — saying that this is a race we have to win and that we are currently losing,” said Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq and was a co-chairman of the task force. “There is a misalignment of priorities, and diminishing time to make dramatic changes.”

The report calls for the United States to undertake an artificial intelligence effort that uses “the Manhattan Project as a model,” citing the drive in World War II to assemble the nation’s best minds in nuclear physics and weapons to develop the atomic bomb. The task force found that although the Pentagon had been experimenting with artificial intelligence, machine learning and even semiautonomous weapons systems for years, “cultural resistance to its wider adoption remains.”

It recommended that every major military acquisition program “evaluate at least one A.I. or autonomous alternative” before it is funded. It also called for the United States to “lead in the formulation and ratification of a global treaty on artificial intelligence in the vein of the Geneva Conventions,” a step the Trump administration has resisted for cyberweaponry and the broader use of artificial intelligence.

But questions persist about whether such a treaty would prove useful. While nuclear and chemical weapons were largely in the hands of nations, cyberweapons — and artificial intelligence techniques — are in the hands of criminal groups, terrorist groups and teenagers.

Nonetheless, the report’s focus on working with allies and developing global codes of ethics and privacy runs counter to the instincts of the Trump administration, making it more surprising that the Republican members of the task force signed on.

“I think this is a case of pushing for a different path at the Pentagon,” said Representative Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana and a co-chairman of the group.

In an interview, he was careful to avoid criticizing the White

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