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Unlocking the potential of wearable technology on caregiving for seniors

Innovations in wearable technology that measure and analyze biometrics is an exciting frontier for senior care.
Innovations in wearable technology that measure and analyze biometrics is an exciting frontier for senior care.
Free web talk on exciting technologies for senior care

What: A free web talk on how big tech is intersecting with care for older adults, presented by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times.

Who: Valencell, a leading innovator of biometrics technology. Presenters include President and Co-Founder Steven LeBoeuf and Vice President of Marketing Ryan Kraudel. Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber will host.

When: Aug. 12, 3 p.m. MDT.

Where: Register online at www.renewsenior.com.

Biometrics technology isn’t new, but continuous innovation is proving its capabilities for health and longevity, especially as it relates to caring for seniors. 

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.
Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities, is especially excited about the possibilities for seniors and their caregivers. Wearable sensors could alert caregivers of seniors’ increased risks for social isolation, falls or heart attacks, and this real-time data could actually help them live longer, healthier lives.

“At Renew, we’re about transforming senior care, and part of that is through supporting the development of technology that helps give seniors more independence, greater quality of life, and longer, healthier lives,” he said. “As a senior housing community, we’re very interested in technology development that helps us create great environments for seniors.”

Renew is presenting a web talk on Aug. 12, hosted by Tuchfarber and featuring speakers from the technology company Valencell, a leading innovator of biometrics technology. Valencell President and Co-Founder Steven LeBoeuf and Vice President of Marketing Ryan Kraudel will present.

Improved access to technology 

Biometrics measurements can analyze heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, sleep quality, cardiovascular health and more. Valencell develops new biometric technologies and licenses the technology that ends up going into devices developed by other companies. 

For example, the embedded sensors in the Starkey brand hearing aid Livio AI, with which Renew has worked, were invented by Valencell. 

This and other wearable sensor technology has caught up to the medical sensor technologies used in hospitals and in healthcare, Kraudel said. 

Ryan Kraudel, Vice President of Marketing at Valencell.
Ryan Kraudel, Vice President of Marketing at Valencell.

“You can now get the same level of accuracy of data outside of a medical facility,” he said. “It makes it easier to collect point-in-time data, but it also allows longitudinal collection (repeated observations) that provides insights that haven’t been seen before.”

Sensors can detect how often you’ve entered a specific room, such as a bathroom or a food pantry, providing insights into how often a senior is using the bathroom or eating. These are the types of uses that Tuchfarber is interested in from a caregiving standpoint. 

Broad uses

Since Valencell was founded in 2006, LeBoeuf said the uses of biometrics technology have expanded. The technology itself is broad and can measure so many different data points gathered from any area on the body where blood flow can be measured non-invasively. 

Let’s say you wanted to know how the body responded to a certain experience, you could analyze the heart rate and blood flow data during that time. In addition, you can get contextual information about what the person is doing from location sensors and inertial sensors.

“We have outputs people can use that you wouldn’t be able to get from other technologies out there,” LeBoeuf said. 

Different customers, different desires

Steven LeBoeuf, President and Co-Founder at Valencell.
Steven LeBoeuf, President and Co-Founder at Valencell.

In the application of wearables for seniors, the customers might not be the same person who wears the device. Customers could include professional caregivers or family members, who often have different goals. 

“Family members just want to know their loved one is alright, but that’s not exactly what the wearer cares about — they want to be more independent,” LeBoeuf said. 

When considering these technologies specifically for senior care, there are also considerations for issues such as tight wearables on aging skin and the sensitivity and battery life of the sensors.

LeBoeuf said there’s also potential to reduce insurance and healthcare costs thanks to wearables. After a cardiac event or procedure, patients are often required to return to the hospital or medical office for follow-up testing. With wearables and smartphones, these tests could be done from home. 

“You could pop in an ear bud to get health measurements and even be able to talk to the physician through that device,” he said. 

Wearable sensors have a seemingly endless amount of applications beyond just biometric modeling. As we think about this wearable technology, LeBoeuf said it’s important to never lose sight of what kind of future we want. 

“This is a means to an end, and the end needs to be improvement in public health,” he said. “Help people take more control in their health, get the feedback they need and take more charge of their health in a way that also drives down costs.”

Why an aging population should be seen as an economic boon

Aging Americans make valuable contributions to the U.S. economy, yet ageism remains a major obstacle for them in the workplace.
Aging Americans make valuable contributions to the U.S. economy, yet ageism remains a major obstacle for them in the workplace.
Getty Image
Free web talk on how aging Americans impact the economy

What: Web talk series about why the aging population will help the economy, presented presented by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times.

Who: Co-hosted by Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor, Marketplace and Minnesota Public Radio; author of “Purpose and a Paycheck, Unretirement, The New Frugality;” and Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities.

When: July 29, 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Register online at www.renewsenior.com.

There are roughly 117.4 million people over the age of 50 in the United States, of which about 52 million are over the age of 65. By 2060, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) estimates that about 95 million Americans will be over the age of 65.

Some economic analysts view an aging population as a detriment to economic growth, but positive factors among an aging population such as longevity, valuable work experience and a continued desire to work could actually mean the opposite. 

Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor for American Public Media's Marketplace.
Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace.

“Older people are an underappreciated asset in the U.S. economy,” said Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of “Purpose and a Paycheck, Unretirement, The New Frugality.” 

Farrell is the guest co-host of a July 29 web talk series about why the aging population will help the economy, presented by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times. 

“There is the concept that the older adult population declines in their value to society, and this is untrue,” said Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities. “That is an entrenched belief, but the script ought to be flipped. People want to contribute to society no matter what age they are.”

Fighting ageism in the workplace

Age discrimination in the workplace cost the U.S economy $850 billion in 2018, according to an AARP report, “The Economic Impact of Age Discrimination.” While many employers recognize older employees’ desire to continue working, few employers are actually taking the steps to create work environments that are responsive to the needs of workers of all ages, according to the report. 

Age discrimination includes less favorable treatment of older people in hiring processes and employment, underempoloyment — such as working jobs or earning wages that are beneath an older person’s qualification level, and longer periods of unemployment. 

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Living.
Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities.

“Just because you’re 65 doesn’t mean you’re brain-dead and don’t have anything to offer,” Farrell said. “We have to create better opportunities for older people.”

Older adults are healthier, better educated and more productive than previous generations, Farrell said, adding that there’s been an explosion of self-employment and entrepreneurship among older people in recent years. 

“You have knowledge and experience, and you know how to solve a problem,” he said. “Startup costs are relatively low if your office is at home or in a co-sharing space — and you don’t have to get through human resources and an ageist management.”

Creating better opportunities for aging Americans

Rather viewing older adults as a drain on the economy, Farrell said more work opportunities that tap into their skills, knowledge and experience could deliver a boon. 

“We all want to be useful, and one way is to continue to tap into our skills,” he said. 

That means creating opportunities for more flexibility, such as part-time work, and rethinking accessibility to ongoing training and education. 

“Someone who graduates from college today can anticipate having a 60 to 70-year career,” Farrell said. 

Longevity research shows that a sense of purpose in life is strongly related to a person’s risk of dying. One study published in the journal JAMA Network Open found that purposeful living is associated with lower mortality from all causes. 

Work is one way people experience living with purpose. Other examples include spending time with family, belonging to something such as a church or social group, and volunteering.

“One way Renew (Senior Communities) would like to get involved is by creating volunteer opportunities for older adults,” Tuchfarber said. “Intensive volunteering is a concept that is conducive to wellness, physically and cognitively, and also conducive to adding value to society. People want to do things that matter, and that’s consistent with this concept of purposefulness.” 

How big tech is intersecting with care for older adults

Dr. Cathy Bodine, a clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado.
Dr. Cathy Bodine, a clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado.

Since the days before cell phones were even a thing, Dr. Cathy Bodine has been working to improve technology for people with disabilities or people aging into disabilities. 

Bodine, a clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado, wants to reduce social isolation — a goal she had long before COVID-19. 

“Social isolation leads to death just as much as cardiovascular disease,” she said. 

Bodine is the featured speaker and co-host in a free web talk on July 15, “How big tech is intersecting with care for older adults,” presented by Renew Senior Communities and co-hosted by Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber. Here’s a look at some of the topics that will be explored. 

Many seniors are eager to learn new technology

There’s a common myth that seniors aren’t interested in technology, but Bodine said disinterest is usually the result of a more complex problem. 

“The technology doesn’t always meet their needs,” she said. “Seniors love technology, that’s not the problem — it’s the usability, user experience and their own history that interferes.”

Through her research and development of new technologies, she consistently finds that the key to making technology successful for seniors is how intuitive and useful it is. If the benefit of using a technology outweighs the cost of using — cost as in the learning curve, which can be frustrating — seniors will persist, she said. 

Bodine points toward the transparency of application icons as an example. Those who started using technologies that featured these icons from a young age understand that the button with the circle and line through it is the on/off button. But it’s not intuitive for all users. 

Free online talk on technology and aging

What: Renew Senior Communities webcast, “How big tech is intersecting with care for older adults.”

Who: Co-hosted by Cathy Bodine, clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado; and Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities

When: July 15, 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Online. Register at renewsenior.com.

“There are a lot of things that make technology really challenging and increase the cognitive load of being able to learn,” Bodine said. 

The pandemic has revealed this exact challenge — telehealth visits are simple for those who know how to log onto a video conferencing meeting, but it’s not easy for someone who has never used that type of application. 

Renew is experimenting with different communication devices to remove the challenges inherent in older adults holding a video conversation with their adult children, Tuchfarber said. 

“We have noticed that even an iPad can pose challenges for an older adult who is not accustomed to using one — it requires a staff member to operate a device for the resident in order to enable the video conference,” he said. 

Renew has looked at other devices and recognized that the Echo Show 8, for example, has a “drop in” feature that allows an adult child to simply appear on the screen at a scheduled time. In other words, the older adult resident does not have to know how to operate the device. 

“They can simply pick it up and start talking with their children and grandchildren,” Tuchfarber said. “Removing this barrier means that we can reconnect families easily.”

User-centered design

The average age of software engineers around the world tends to be under 35, Bodine said. While they have brilliant intentions and want to design good products, their own personal experiences influence their work. 

“If these engineers have no access to the end users, they’re building a product based on their knowledge rather than the knowledge of their average user,” she said. “Technology has to be developed with the end user in mind, in a way that’s more intuitive.”

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Living.
Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Living.

Every semester, Bodine has her engineering students work with either a senior or someone with a disability to figure out what the real user problem is with a specific technology. Once students have a better understanding of the problem that needs to be solved, they can design technology around that issue. 

“Think about the lifespan of someone who is 85 years old. Think about the innovations they’ve experienced in their lifetime — automatic transmissions, a man on the moon, development of the computer, cell phones,” Bodine said. “They have a history of seeing lots of technological growth and development, but what we’re not doing so well today is designing the technology for them to be able to use it.”

Bodine goes to the massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas each year to meet with people from small and large companies around the world. Her hope is to train the next generation of engineers to be more adept at thinking more broadly about technology design. 

“They’re developing technologies that seniors will buy — the market is driving innovations in how we design and develop these technologies,” she said. 

Emerging technologies

Because of the demographic that is currently aging — Baby Boomers, the second-largest living generation behind Millennials — mainstream technology companies are increasingly interested in aging. Bodine said they’re starting to understand that their business models have to shift to include older populations. 

From artificial intelligence to smart-home designs, there are cutting edge technologies that can not only help seniors with social isolation, but also with mental and physical health. One technology Bodine is studying is the use of wearable sensors that can detect respiratory function, heart rate, temperature and other metrics. Sensors in a toilet can detect if someone has an infection. Bodine is particularly excited about wearable sensors’ ability to detect balance. 

“One of the key indicators for mortality and morbidity is falling. Our balance changes as we age. If we can measure when the balance stability is shifting, then maybe we can get you into physical therapy or senior exercise programs,” she said. “It’s a very exciting time to be working in technology.”

What’s the answer to slowing the spread of COVID-19 for older adults?

Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“There’s a lot of stupid floating around out there.”

That’s what South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said during a recent news conference in which he pleaded with the public to make better decisions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“That’s the best quote ever — it’s how you explain the recent surge (in cases),” said Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. Schmidt is the guest host of an upcoming webcast, “How Colorado Can Work Smarter to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Older Adults,” presented by Renew Senior Communities. Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber is co-hosting.

“This is a plague for which the human race has a choice,” Dr. Schmidt said. “We already know how to stop this virus dead in its tracks.”

Much of the discussion will focus on how we can do our part as a society to slow the spread, but Dr. Schmidt will also discuss promising light at the end of the tunnel. From the potential that oral polio vaccines can safely and cheaply protect the U.S. population to excitement over bluetooth technology expanding the efficiency of contact tracing, Dr. Schmidt said various stop-gap measures could make a big difference until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine.  

“The only thing more infectious than this virus is hope,” he said.

Personal responsibility

The way we control the virus is really straightforward, Dr. Schmidt said — “it’s hygiene.”

Wearing a mask to protect others, washing your hands and keeping a physical distance of at least six feet from other people are the most effective safety precautions.

“If we’ve learned one thing, there are a lot of folks out there who are infected and don’t know it,” he said. “The mere act of speech actually can spread the virus. So, if you’re out carrying your business and talking, wear a mask.”

Physical distancing is your only hope if you’re not wearing a mask. The “hope” being that the virus dissipates in the air before smashing into your face.

“Many medical folks are wearing face shields because the virus can come in from your tear ducts,” Dr. Schmidt said.

As for hand hygiene, simple soap and water is all you need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds.

Strict safety protocols have proven to work at Renew Senior Living’s two communities in Aurora and Glenwood Springs. Tuchfarber said all residents at both communities have remained COVID-free while a great number of the senior living facilities in Colorado have experienced outbreaks.

Renew put various safety measures in place for staff before they enter the building, and they’ve even provided staff with meals to take home to their families to decrease their need to go to the grocery store. Much of this decision-making is data-driven, with various phases of safety measures implemented depending on the R-naught (Ro), which is the estimate of the number of people to whom each infected person spreads the virus.

“There’s an inherent spreadability of the virus itself, but there’s also an environmental factor,” Tuchfarber said. “So behavior can really affect the Ro.”

Join Renew and Dr. Michael Schmidt virtually on July 1

What: “How Colorado Can Work to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 for Older Adults,” a webcast talk series presented by Renew Senior Communities.

When: Wednesday, July 1, 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Register for free at renewsenior.com.

Featured co-host: Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, is a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is a well-published expert in the area of

infectious disease control and pandemics. He ran the American Society for Microbiology

and set its research priorities for vaccines and testing. He hosts a podcast called, “This

Week in Microbiology.” Dr. Schmidt is an advisor to MicrogenDx, the second largest next

generation testing lab in the U.S.


Testing serves a vital role in understanding and controlling the spread of COVID-19, Dr. Schmidt said. He points to data from Taiwan, a densely populated island that has managed to keep its number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date to less than 450 thanks to aggressive testing and contract tracing.

“Going forward, given that we know there is significant asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission of the virus, pre-emptive testing may be a way we help slow the spread of the virus  in areas that have suddeningly seen a surge in an increase in new cases,” he said. “Simply, local areas may wish to routinely screen random members within their community looking for an up-turn in the number of cases. Such a program will be especially important to companies with public-facing employees, so that they can ensure that their employees and customers are as safe as possible.”

Renew is working on a strategy for preemptive testing rather than waiting for a positive case and then reacting to it. Tuchfarber said Renew should be implementing that new protocol very soon.

“Preemptive testing of all staff on a regular basis, unprompted by a positive test result, is presently a rarity in our industry, but is an important measure to assure safety. We are preparing to integrate this program in our COVID-19 safety regimen,” Tuchfarber said. “This is an extra measure of safety that we feel strongly about taking.”

Facilitating a global response

In an effort to facilitate a global response, scientists are looking at three strategies: diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Diagnostics essentially look at how we can slow the spread faster and better, while therapeutics focus on the use of drugs.

“If we’re going to restart the economy, we need two to three drugs so the virus doesn’t adapt to the drugs like it did with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1980s,” Dr. Schmidt said.

Vaccines are the area for which Dr. Schmidt is truly excited. There are more than 90 candidate vaccines currently being studied, with microbiologists, structural biologists, physiologists and others all pulling in the same direction.

7 formas en las que tu participación en el censo beneficia a toda nuestra comunidad

Presentado por el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute

Asegúrate de que tu voz se escuche

Ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. es una forma de hacer que tu voz se escuche a nivel local, estatal y federal. Tu participación influye en todo, desde la representación política hasta importantes servicios públicos de la comunidad. ¡No te quedes en silencio, ayuda a tu comunidad! El censo de EE. UU. es completamente seguro y su información personal es confidencial.

Para obtener más información, visita a2pcensus2020.com o 2020census.gov.

Si vives en los Estados Unidos, independientemente de si naciste aquí o de cuál es tu estado migratorio, la ley te exige ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. 2020. Hay solo 10 preguntas, que se estima toman unos 10 minutos en completarse.

Desde 1790, el recuento del censo de EE. UU. ha influenciado todo, desde la representación política en el congreso hasta la financiación federal para servicios públicos esenciales.

Los condados del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley, así como otras partes interesadas formaron el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute como un esfuerzo de colaboración para aumentar la participación en el censo en nuestro valle. A través de su campaña “Juntos contamos”, el objetivo del comité es desacreditar los mitos y calmar los temores sobre el censo.

Dado que el conteo del censo solo ocurre una vez cada 10 años, deja que esta lista sirva como recordatorio de por qué no debes ignorar el censo: la participación de cada residente es esencial para la vitalidad de nuestras comunidades.

Ninguna pregunta sobre ciudadanía

En toda la comunidad, el efecto a largo plazo del clima político actual y la confusión en torno a la cuestión de la ciudadanía daba diferentes matices a las percepciones de las personas sobre el censo, dijo Phillip Supino, director de desarrollo comunitario de la ciudad de Aspen y miembro del Comité de Conteo Completo.

Los tribunales federales bloquearon permanentemente los planes de la administración Trump de agregar una pregunta al censo que habría consultado si tu eres ciudadano estadounidense. El comité está recordando a todos los residentes del Roaring Fork Valley que no habrá tal pregunta en el censo 2020.

Tus respuestas al censo son confidenciales.

Las respuestas del censo se utilizan para producir estadísticas, y nada más. La oficina del censo de los EE. UU. tiene la obligación legal de mantener la confidencialidad de tus respuestas.

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información acerca de la cantidad de personas que viven en tu hogar, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellos. El censo no te preguntará acerca de tu religión, afiliación política o ingresos.

Además, todo el personal de la oficina del censo hace un juramento vitalicio para proteger tu información, y cualquier violación trae consigo una multa de hasta $250,000 y/o hasta 5 años de cárcel.

Los datos del censo NO se pueden usar en tu contra por ningún motivo

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información sobre el número de personas viviendo en tu casa, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellas. El censo no te cuestionará sobre religión, afiliación política o ingreso.

La ley federal garantiza que tu información personal y tus respuestas no puedan ser utilizadas en tu contra por ninguna agencia gubernamental. Eso significa que tus respuestas al censo no pueden ser compartidas por la oficina del censo con las agencias de inmigración o policiales.

“Sin lugar a dudas, bajo ninguna circunstancia, los datos del censo se pueden compartir entre las agencias”, dijo Supino.

Conteo insuficiente conduce a un financiamiento insuficiente

Los números del censo equivalen a fondos federales para servicios comunitarios vitales como: carreteras, transporte, hospitales, servicios de emergencia, alimentos subsidiados, atención médica y más.

Por cada persona que se cuenta en el censo, Colorado recibe alrededor de $2,300 en fondos federales. Eso es por persona, por año, durante los próximos 10 años.

Eso significa que solo una persona que no se cuente podría resultar en la pérdida de $23,000 dólares federales hasta el próximo conteo del censo en 2030.

“Con solo unos minutos de tu tiempo, puedes ayudar a garantizar fondos para servicios comunitarios importantes como educación, mejoras de carreteras y servicios de salud y humanos”, dijo Jenn Ooton, subdirector de la ciudad de Glenwood Springs. “Además, nuestras comunidades del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley están en mejores condiciones para planificar el futuro cuando tenemos recuentos de población precisos”.

Alex Sánchez, director ejecutivo de Valley Settlement, una organización que trabaja para mejorar las vidas de las familias inmigrantes, dijo que la comunidad latina del Roaring Fork Valley fue muy poco contada en el censo de 2010. Esto lleva a una incapacidad a nivel local para apoyar completamente a todos los miembros de la comunidad con los recursos necesarios.

“Esperemos que este año el conteo del censo pueda ser un verdadero reflejo de esta comunidad”, dijo.

Mejor representación política.

Cuando una comunidad se cuenta con precisión, puede representarse de manera más efectiva. Colorado es uno de los cinco estados en occidente que podrían obtener un escaño adicional en el congreso después del censo 2020, pero primero necesitamos una participación exitosa en el censo.

“Todos tenemos un interés personal en asegurarnos de que estamos participando”, dijo Sánchez. “Independientemente del estado migratorio, este es nuestro deber cívico”.

Participar en el censo es fácil

Tu invitación para participar en el censo 2020 se entregará entre el 12 y el 20 de marzo. Una vez que la recibas, puedes responder en línea (www.2020Census.gov), por teléfono (llama al centro de llamadas del censo utilizando el número de teléfono que figura en tu postal de invitación) o puedes enviar tu formulario de respuesta por correo postal.

Día del censo (1 de abril) y otras fechas importantes

Cada dirección postal física recibirá una postal con instrucciones sobre cómo participar en el censo de EE. UU., además de cartas recordatorias, desde hoy hasta el 27 de abril.

El censo de EE. UU. comenzó a aceptar respuestas en línea, por teléfono y por correo el 12 de marzo. El 1ero. de abril se considera el día del censo, lo que significa que todas las preguntas que respondas en el formulario del censo deben incluir a las personas que viven en tu hogar a partir del 1ero. de abril.

De abril a junio, se realizarán recuentos de instalaciones grupales como dormitorios y residencias para ancianos.

En mayo, los trabajadores del censo visitarán los hogares de los no encuestados.

Y finalmente, en diciembre, los datos del censo serán entregados al presidente y al congreso.

8 things everyone should know about filing for bankruptcy

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Diana A. Ray, Attorney at Law

Bankruptcy is a fresh start for people who are unable to pay down their debts (see factbox). Bankruptcy gets rid of dischargeable debt, completely free and clear, and it’s tax free.
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How do you know if it’s time to consider bankruptcy?
  • You’re making minimum payments and sinking in interest rates.
  • You’re finding yourself without any disposable income every month.
  • You’re unable to pay down your debts.
  • Your expenses are more than your income.
  • You’re considering credit consolidation (talk to an attorney before you go this route).

Schedule a consultation with Glenwood Springs bankruptcy attorney Diana A. Ray to learn if bankruptcy is right for you. Visit dianaraylaw.com, call 970-945-8571 or email Diana Ray at dianaraylaw@gmail.com for more information.

Attorney Advertising. This article is designed for general information only. The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. 

Diana A. Ray, Attorney at Law is a Debt Relief Agency helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

When people fall on hard financial times, there’s one opportunity that creates a fresh start: bankruptcy.

The most responsible people in the world can still end up in a hard financial situation, said Diana A. Ray, a bankruptcy attorney in Glenwood Springs. And now, given the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy, more and more people are finding themselves in scary and uncertain situations.

“I want people to know that bankruptcy is not a bad thing — it’s a right that we all have,” Ray said.

While bankruptcy is often a last resort, it’s also symbolic of hope and new beginnings. Here are some of the most important facts about filing for bankruptcy.

1. Bankruptcy is a fresh start

A bankruptcy gets rid of a person’s dischargeable debt, completely free and clear, and it’s tax free. Ray said if you owe a creditor $20,000, for example, and the creditor will settle that debt with you for $10,000, you’d still have to pay taxes on the remaining $10,000. With a bankruptcy, you don’t owe the debt or the taxes — and it’s gone for the rest of your life.

When you file for bankruptcy, you have to take a credit counseling course which helps debtors budget their income and expenses.

“It really helps them in the long run to avoid filing for bankruptcy again,” Ray said.

Ray points out that once you file bankruptcy, you’re on the hook for any debt acquired after the date of the bankruptcy filing. A person cannot file for bankruptcy again for another eight years.

2. Bankruptcy is nothing to be ashamed of

Ray’s bankruptcy clients are hard-working, responsible people who have fallen on hard times for various reasons. Some were trying to keep their small businesses afloat, while others built credit card debt they thought they could pay back.

For some, a job loss occurs at the same time as unforeseen medical or other expenses — next thing you know you just can’t keep up with the bills, Ray said.

“It doesn’t mean you’re incompetant or irresponsible,” Ray said. “There’s a stigma around bankruptcy, which is really unfortunate.I would say that most of my clients can’t avoid it.”

3. Creditors can no longer collect on you

Diana A. Ray, Glenwood Springs bankruptcy attorney.

Once you file bankruptcy, creditors are no longer able to collect on you. What’s more, these creditors can no longer harass you regarding the outstanding debt.

“If you’re getting calls from creditors, once you file they have to stop,” Ray said. “It’s called an automatic stay and there are enormous penalties for creditors if they violate it.”

4. Some debts are excluded

Not all debts get erased after filing for bankruptcy. The most common debts that are considered nondischargeable are alimony, child support payments, student loans, and certain tax debt.

“It’s important to talk to an attorney to figure out your options and which debt is dischargeable and which is not depending on which Chapter of bankruptcy you file” Ray said.

5. You will be able to build your credit again

While it’s true your credit score will go down after a bankruptcy, it’s not hard to rebuild your credit and increase your score after filing.

“For many of my clients, their credit score was already bad,” Ray said.

The bankruptcy filing shows up on a credit report for 10 years, but within a year of filing you can start to see increases to your credit score.

“I counsel people on how to increase their credit,” Ray said. “After you file, you’ll be bombarded with offers for loans and credit cards. The interest rate might be higher because of the bankruptcy, but you will get offers.”

Ray said it’s important to build credit again by opening accounts and paying them off. You could open one credit card account, for example, and charge just $20 per month to it and then pay it off in full.

“It shows you’re paying off your monthly debt,” she said.

6. Your home may be protected

Many people worry that because they own assets such as real property, they won’t be able to hold on to those assets after a bankruptcy.

“That might not be true,” Ray said. “Your home is protected as long as it’s under the exemption amount. If you meet the criteria — and most people commonly do — it’s protected.”

There are certain criteria you have to meet, thus, it is always a good idea to discuss your options with a bankruptcy attorney.

7. You can file without your spouse

If you’re married, you can file for bankruptcy on your own or jointly with your spouse. If you file solo, the bankruptcy won’t appear on your spouse’s credit, Ray said.

“In determining whether a joint or single filing is warranted, it just depends on the scenario,” she said. “I routinely file for clients without their spouse being involved.”

8. Bankruptcy is complicated, an attorney is highly recommended

Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process. There are many nuances to the law that could backfire if overlooked.

For example, listing all creditors, listing the appropriate exemptions for assets, and knowing what kind of expenses you can or can’t incur leading up to the filling. An attorney will navigate all of those details.

“At any point, if you’re contemplating bankruptcy, call an attorney because there’s so much planning that needs to be done — so many things you need to do or not do that could affect your bankruptcy.”

“If you think you might file in the future, it’s so important to talk to an attorney. If you think you might be in this situation six months from now, talk to me now.”

Pandemic highlights the challenges facing caregivers

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Renew Senior Communities

Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, is co-moderating the Friday webinar.
Free webinar on the challenges facing caregivers

What: A special webinar discussion, “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19.”

Who: Nadine Roberts Cornish, gerontologist and author; and co-moderated by Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado and Renew Senior Communities CEO Lee Tuchfarber.

When: Friday, May 8, 1 p.m.

Where: Online. Register at www.renewsenior.com.

Cost: Free

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to give up on some of life’s simple freedoms, making an experience that caregivers have endured all along a sudden reality for just about everyone.

COVID-19 has sort of leveled the playing field, said Nadine Roberts Cornish, a gerontologist and author. It has given us an opportunity to experience what our lives might be like if we have to take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one.

“It’s important that we understand the role of a caregiver, but also our role in supporting the caregivers in our lives,” she said.

That’s why caregivers and anyone who anticipates caregiving in the future are encouraged to join a special webinar discussion, “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19,” hosted by Renew Senior Communities in partnership with The Aspen Times, on Friday, May 8 (see factbox).

The discussion will feature Cornish and will be moderated by Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber and Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado.

An opportunity to have tough conversations

Many caregivers find themselves in the role suddenly, Cornish said — they’re going about their lives and then the phone rings and it changes everything.

“Individuals who have had those conversations in advance understand and know what their loved ones’ wishes are — and they’re better equipped to handle the responsibility of caregiving,” she said.

With the situation we’re all facing due to COVID-19, many people have found themselves thinking about all the things they should have taken care of, Cornish said.

“Let’s come to grips with our mortality and have those difficult conversations and put our affairs in order,” she said. “It makes caregiving so much easier because you don’t have the responsibility of deciding those things for someone.”

Cornish cared for her mother for the last 15 years of her life and was uniquely qualified to navigate the waters thanks to a background in public health. She always knew she’d be her mother’s caregiver someday — they had many conversations about it over the years – but she didn’t know how long it would last or exactly what to expect.

After her mother died, Cornish realized there were so many caregivers out there who needed guidance; she launched The Caregiver’s Guardian to provide caregiving consulting and education about a year later.

The importance of self-care

The work Schafer does at the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado largely focuses on supporting and educating caregivers. There are an estimated 16.3 million Alzheimer’s caregivers in the United States, roughly 5 percent of the population.

“We call them unpaid caregivers, because almost always these are people – family and friends – who are not getting compensated,” Schafer said.

Schafer uses the analogy of the safety briefing on an airplane to describe the importance of self-care for caregivers — the flight attendant tells us to put an oxygen mask on ourselves first before assisting someone else.

“We try not to lecture people to take care of themselves, we just try to make those resources available to them,” Schafer said.

Cornish calls self-care for caregivers “non-negotiable.” She said it’s such a necessity that it’s the foundation for all of her work.

“If you’re claiming to care for someone else and you’re neglecting yourself, then you’re not really taking care of that person,” Cornish said. “You’re under the illusion you’re taking care of somebody.”

Cornish said self-care takes on different meanings for different people. She has one client who gets outside every day to pull weeds in her yard, while another client enjoys sitting by the window undisturbed to enjoy the view.

Whether it’s exercise, reading books, listening to music or something else, “nobody can tell you what your self-care looks like — you get to define it for yourself,” Cornish said.

Impacts of isolation during coronavirus pandemic

Nadine Roberts Cornish, gerontologist and author, is the guest speaker in a May 8 free webinar discussion on “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19.”

Because of the danger coronavirus presents to elderly or sick people, Cornish said many of the caregivers she works with have reported feeling extremely isolated since the pandemic began.

Caregivers usually have some support throughout the day during normal times. Maybe their loved one is in an adult day care program, or they get a break from caregiving when they head off to work for the day.

Many of those breaks have stopped during the pandemic. Some caregivers are even avoiding trips to the grocery store out of fear they could bring the virus home and put their loved one at risk.

“There’s a heightened sense of protection and a need to isolate more than everyone else,” Cornish said.

And for those caregivers who don’t live with the loved one they are responsible for, not being able to check in on them at the long-term care facility or senior care housing where they live can be extremely isolating for both caregiver and patient, said Jim Herlihy, senior director of marketing and communications for the Colorado Alzheimer’s Association.

“It can be very disconcerting for the person living with disease — they don’t understand what it all means and wonder if they’ve been abandoned,” he said. “We’ve heard from some caregivers who are saying the disease seems to be advancing (during this period of isolation).”

Focusing on the positive

From structuring your caregiving environment to using technology to connect the person being cared for with other loved ones, it’s possible to find peace and even joy during the caregiving journey.

Schafer said education about the person’s disease or illness is important, as well as connecting with other caregivers who share similar experiences or circumstances.

“There’s power in people not feeling like they’re the only ones going through this,” Schafer said. “It might not change your circumstances, but it helps change your mindset.”

Cornish said there’s joy in the caregiving journey, you just have to know where to look for it.

“Caregiving allows us to stop and shift and really make caring for a loved one a priority,” she said. “I think our ultimate purpose on earth is to care for each other.”

Tips for caregivers separated from loved ones during COVID-19

  • FaceTime (or WhatsApp) calls
  • Reading to them over the phone
  • Doing some breathing exercises with people over the phone
  • Watching a movie together over the phone and talking about it

From outside the loved one’s window:

  • Talking by phone from outside the window
  • Holding up signs
  • Singing and dancing from the window
  • Play games from a window, like cards or charades. (It may sound silly, but we have seen some really cool videos of people doing these things.)

Sending supplies to staff and residents, such as:

  • Favorite snacks
  • Stuffed animals
  • Weighted blankets
  • Heating pads (they even have heated stuffed animals)
  • Aromatherapy supplies including diffusers and essential oils
  • Sending letters or cards
  • Scheduling virtual visits with residents and families via the community computers (usually need to have a staff member available to help residents get connected during scheduled times)

More tips and tools for caregivers can be found at alz.org/help-support/resources/online-tools.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

Real estate broker launches “office on the road”

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Rimkus Real Estate

Dyna Mei Rimkus is excited to travel the valley, from Aspen to Parachute, to provide convenient service to her real estate clients from her Mercedes Airstream mobile office.
Rimkus Real Estate “on the road”

Launching in June, the Rimkus Real Estate mobile office will service clients from Aspen to Parachute. Look for advertisements announcing hours and locations or check Rimkus Real Estate’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RimkusRealEstate, for updates.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the real estate industry, Dyna Mei Rimkus had already been thinking outside the box about ways to service her wide variety of clients throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

Rimkus, a licensed real estate broker and owner of Rimkus Real Estate, works with English- and Spanish- speaking clients from Aspen to Parachute, spanning all demographics and income levels. She wanted to find a way to conveniently deliver her services to such a large geographic region and that’s when the light bulb went on.

“No one really goes into a real estate office that often,” Rimkus said. “I started looking for other options and found this Mercedes-Benz Airstream touring van and now it’s my mobile office.”

From showings to closings to video conferencing, the 9-passenger van is equipped with a full kitchen and bathroom and can handle just about anything — including social distancing.

“It’s so spacious. I took an elderly friend to Costco recently and she felt safe and comfortable because she was in the back with plenty of space between us,” Rimkus said. “It was a great option for her.”

Serving the community

The mobile Rimkus Real Estate office, officially launching in June, is meant to provide convenience for working families who juggle many responsibilities. Rimkus said she plans to announce the mobile office’s traveling locations and hours each week when she knows where she’ll be parked.

“I think this will be a way to better service clients all over the valley, especially those who work long hours and don’t always have time to go to the actual office,” she said.

Serving the community has always been a priority for Rimkus. Rimkus Real Estate started offering free home buyer seminars in 2019 at local libraries. The goal was to teach community members about the advantages and responsibilities that go along with home ownership, including information about building equity for retirement.

Rimkus Real Estate’s next big decision as it expanded its offerings in the valley was its office location.

“The main goal in determining a new office location was, ‘how can we be most approachable and accessible to anyone thinking about home ownership —and how can we continue to reach out to anyone who might not yet have started thinking about all the benefits of owning versus paying rent or leasing land,” Rimkus wrote in a recent email to clients.

Rimkus will offer coffee and tea, and she’ll be baking her mom’s secret scone recipe to make the experience as welcoming as possible. She hopes the casual environment will encourage people to ask questions and share their real estate needs and wants.

Concierge-style showings

Dyna Mei Rimkus and husband Tobias Rimkus have converted a Mercedes Airstream van into Rimkus Real Estate’s mobile office for showings, closings and more.

In-person real estate showings were on hold until Gov. Jared Polis announced they could resume beginning April 27. Rimkus intends to use her mobile office as a concierge-type shuttle service for clients.

“For my clients in Aspen, I can pick them up from the airport and take them to luxury homes, park outside and make a nice picnic for them,” she said. “The 25-foot Sprinter van is equipped with comfortable seating for up to nine passengers — when we get to the stage of looking at properties with the whole family — and has two wide screen TVs to look at the listing details while driving to the next location, plus a few other conveniences.”

Using the van to help others

During the pandemic, Rimkus is also utilizing the van to support her philanthropic efforts. From driving seniors to pick up groceries to packing the van with bags full of supplies for underserved children, the mobile office sprinter van is helping Rimkus do more for the community.

On April 23, she used the van to deliver 600 bags of items, mostly toys, for underprivileged children from El Jebel to Glenwood Springs. And whenever she learns of someone who needs help shopping, she’s happy to use the van to pick up the items and deliver them.

“With this pandemic, the van has been a great tool for us to be able to help and serve the community however we can,” Rimkus said.

Social isolation and loneliness: a talk about coronavirus’s effects on mental health

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Renew Senior Communities

Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado.
Courtesy Photo
Live panel discussion on loneliness during coronavirus

What: Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with The Aspen Times, presents “Coronavirus Isolation and Mental Health,” a webinar panel discussion.

Who: Ami Rokach, a clinical psychologist and a member of the psychology department at York university in Toronto, and who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years; Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado; Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities.

When: Thursday, April 23, 11 a.m.

Where: Online. Visit www.renewsenior.com to register.

Cost: Free

As the global coronavirus pandemic upends our lives and forces us to stay in our homes, it also highlights and increases the experience that many adults were already facing before the pandemic: loneliness.

A January 2020 Cigna survey of more than 10,000 working Americans revealed that 61 percent — or roughly three in five people — reported feeling lonely. The National Poll on Healthy Aging reports that about a third of seniors are lonely. And these statistics measured loneliness before a global pandemic mandated social isolation.

An April 23 webinar hosted by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with The Aspen Times, aims to explore the relationship between coronavirus isolation and mental health. Ami Rokach, the author of “Loneliness, Love  and All That’s Between,” is a clinical psychologist who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years, and Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado, will discuss the pandemic’s effects on mental health and the tools that can help people of all ages and backgrounds cope.

Alone vs. loneliness

The state of being alone, or social isolation, is the physical separation from other people, while loneliness is a distressed feeling of being alone that can happen with or without social isolation. People talk about loneliness as if we’re experiencing the same thing, but loneliness is actually a subjective experience which may differ from person to person, Rokach said.

“While subjective, it’s always very painful, very distressing and something we don’t choose to experience,” he added. “There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness may be experienced when we are, or are not, alone and is always painful and unwanted, while solitude is being alone because we chose to be alone to do what we can best do alone, such as reflect, take a walk in the woods, write, compose, etc. Solitude is very refreshing and a welcome experience.”

The negative feelings associated with loneliness and isolation are what led Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities, to want to explore this and similar topics in a series of online discussions. He hopes the events can lead to meaningful social impacts in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.

The loneliness stigma

Ami Rokach, the author of “Loneliness, Love and All That’s Between,” is a clinical psychologist who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years
Courtesy Photo

Rokach has seen hundreds of patients who suffered from loneliness, yet only one patient in all those years initially reported feeling lonely, though later many admitted to feeling so.

“That indicates that we don’t admit, even to ourselves, when we’re lonely,” he said. “If I’m lonely, it means nobody wants to be with me, and if that’s the case, it must mean I’m not good or I’m inadequate, hence a ‘loser.’ There is a serious stigma about loneliness in our culture.

“Sometimes, loneliness and depression are seen as one and the same. We can differentiate between them by what they make us want. When people feel lonely, they’re often yearning to get closer to others, yet those who are depressed often tell others to ‘leave me alone,’” Rokach said.

That’s how psychologists know the experiences are not one in the same. In loneliness, people can slide into depression, but not all people experiencing depression are lonely.

“Loneliness became now a ‘hot’ topic, due to COVID-19. The reason that people now openly discuss it is that we can ‘blame’ the virus for our loneliness, and that eliminates the stigma that is usually connected to loneliness,” Rokach said.

Loneliness and health

In the last five or so years, loneliness has been linked to increased risks of serious health problems such as hypertension, sleep disturbances, enhanced dementia in seniors and even death. Chronic loneliness is as bad as smoking, obesity and diabetes.

“Loneliness can predict morbidity and mortality,” Rokach said. “The less stress we have — and loneliness is stressful — the better our immune system behaves, and the stronger it is.”

Using technology to conquer feelings of loneliness

There’s good news for social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic in that technology is helping us stay connected. It’s also creating a petri dish of innovation, McFaul said.

The use of telehealth — where patients can meet with providers virtually — has been surging during the pandemic after the healthcare industry as a whole has been working on making it more mainstream for more than a decade. Beyond telehealth, McFaul’s work at the National Mental Health Innovation Center is looking into ways that technology such as virtual reality can be used in both physical and mental health care.

“We’re already testing virtual reality with seniors,” she said. “With any isolated community, virtual reality is about taking them into an immersive world, somewhere they couldn’t go on their own.”

Rethinking loneliness during COVID-19

Loneliness is a concept that wasn’t really legitimized until research has substantiated its risks on physical health, McFaul said. Loneliness was only talked about in traditionally isolated populations until about the last 10 years.

“And now with COVID, it has become a universal topic,” she said. “But the cause and duration of it are different, which is interesting. I don’t know how this will lead to differences in how we recover from loneliness because for those who weren’t already experiencing loneliness, it is temporary in some ways.”

Rokach said the way we think about current circumstances can help us overcome the experience of loneliness. Even the term “social distancing” should really be “physical distancing,” he said.

“When you hear ‘social distancing,’ think of all things that can conjure up — ‘I’m alone, nobody is getting close to me, people prefer to stay away,’” Rokach said. “We can get wrapped into those thoughts and end up being depressed and experience loneliness.”

Instead of feeling as if something has been imposed on us and we have no control, Rokach suggests thinking of the current situation as a choice.

“Being alone is just physical — much of the way we feel about it is influenced by how we look at it,” he said. “By turning loneliness into solitude, we can understand that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. It will not feel lonely, but a period where we could do and experience things that we usually cannot.”