As we age, sensitive passwords, especially for financial websites which gather data, may be easily forgotten or can be cracked.
I met Paul Gill a few months ago. He is living with dementia and is part of our research project group with which I’m involved at Warwick University called the Language Sensing Study: Dementia Diagnosis and Monitoring. More of this another day.
He is well-qualified to comment on computer security matters – for 15 years, Paul worked on software for military radar systems and had MOD security training, albeit 25 years ago.
He tells me that the main password risk is from computer hacking inside a bank’s computers or downloaded malware. However, MOD advised that any password/passphrase should not be guessable by a human. Banks will not pay up if they can avoid it by (plausibly) blaming a family member, however innocent they may be. A passphrase such as “long live our gracious ...” would be unsafe, as any person could guess the next word is “queen”.
He adds, “whilst for very obvious reasons I never breach bank terms by discussing the exact password/passphrase I use, old car registrations and co-op numbers are good candidates for remaining in long term memory!”
“The MOD told us to never ever to assume that a person ringing us was who they said they were. Always ring them back using a number you know is correct having ended the call and heard the dialling tone."
He uses Kaspersky anti-virus – “(though I'd rather it was a UK firm!)” He advises, "ignore unsolicited offers of free drive upgrades or software unless it’s on on the manufacturer’s website. Older printers and scanners for Windows 10 are hopefully available from the manufacturer."
He uses CCleaner (reputable free software https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCleaner ) to clean his cache both before and after an online visit to the bank and right-clicks to use the “in Private” settings and he does not take up their offers.
Paul doesn’t use a mobile device for banking – his PC is “firmly attached by cable, which to all intents and purposes doesn’t radiate and can’t be intercepted, although the bank does have my mobile number for emergencies.”
If you receive alarming reports of a new improved scam, Paul advises looking up the exact words on the internet and that http://www.hoaxbusters.org/ usually lists the ones that do the rounds every few years!
He says, “Although we have the fastest internet we can get, it’s still slow and runs at the speed of the slowest component but I got what I think was a 20% speed increase by using faster cables:
You can check internet speed via a number of websites. “I can’t remember whether this is the one I used but it’s probably sponsored by someone selling ISP, so firms that come up 2nd to the sponsor are probably best! http://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk/
Internet Service Provider
Virgin as Paul’s ISP of choice. “It’s expensive, but customer service is good and when I had to help someone in his late 80s who’d made a dreadful hash of downloading Windows10, they accessed the computer remotely to fix it.
Facilitating REAL Communication workshops for carers is a real privilege. Being interactive, what happens at them is always a Quid Pro Quo: a real exchange of learning and experience.
All care is communication and nowhere is this more true than on dementia care.
The REAL Communication* model developed partly as a result of my mother's experience living in care homes, which taught me that we cannot care for a person if we don't care about them; and we cannot care about them if we don't know who they are.
And equally, if the person being cared for does not value those who care for them; if employers and relatives do not care for the carers themselves, a vicious circle can be the only result.
Older people can be immensely vulnerable and need sensitive care as well as robust advocacy, but their rich life experiences have a deep affect on how they view their care, their relationships with families and friends – and life in general.
When we have empathy for them, listen to them well, understand how their memory systems function and recognise, honour and celebrate their life experiences, they are encouraged and empowered.
Here's the latest workshopfor the Community Therapists Network, in London on 23 June
My mum had Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia for ten years and lived in three different care homes. It was an experience that radically changed not only her life journey, but mine as well.
Making the decision to move into a care home can be very positive – but also one that’s made in crisis, against a background of anxiety, pain and confusion. It can be overwhelming trying to decide what your loved one (or you) need and would like from a new home and can leave you with a lot of questions.
AgeUK asked me to help write a check list with some of the kinds of questions you might want to consider when making a choice about which is the right residential care home for you or your loved one. It is available as a free download.
Age UK have also produced a series of films of a small group of older people living in care homes talking about what life is like inside their care home and how they came to move into a formal caring environment.
Some goals make us happy; others have the opposite effect (for football lovers, anyway). Feeble jokes aside, happiness depends in part on whether our goals are intrinsic or extrinsic.
So what's the difference?
Intrinsic stems from the Latin for "inward". Intrinsic goals relate to "goods of the soul" like personal growth, close relationships and physical health.
Extrinsic stems from the Latin for "outward". Extrinsic goals relate to "worldly goals" like money, status, or fame.
Generally, we are taught that intrinsic goals are good for our happiness. The 2003 study by University of Rochester, asked 147 recent college graduates to report their aspirations in life and their happiness or unhappiness. Intrinsic aspirations included close relationships, community involvement, personal growth. Extrinsic aspirations included money, fame and having an appealing image.
Those who were able to realise their intrinsic goals, had higher levels of happiness, while those who attained their extrinsic goals had no improvement in their subjective well-being. The authors posited that while momentarily satisfied after reaching such a goal, the sense of satisfaction could not be sustained.
The difference in how these goals affect happiness comes down to needs. One school of thought, "self-determination theory", contends that we all need three things for our psychological health:
Autonomy: feeling in control of behaviour and goals
Competence: gaining mastery of tasks or skills
Relatedness: feeling a sense of belonging or attachment to others
Extrinsic goals like money, fame and image cannot meet psychological needs and may even do the opposite. The "hedonic treadmill" means we need to experience ever greater pleasures in order to get the same rush.
On the other hand, intrinsic goals directly nourish our psychological needs. Taking charge of our personal growth gives us a sense of autonomy, staying in shape makes us feel good about our body; developing meaningful friendships gives us a sense of belonging.
All well and good. But what if you have moderate or advanced dementia? Your autonomy is slowly diminishing or lost, your competency may remain in some procedural activities but will be in decline, your relatedness may be damaged by the slump in language skills and your loved ones may be less recognised, or even, apparently "forgotten".
Meaningful communication can help and is key to the good care – and happiness of those with dementia. Research by Prof. Clive Ballard's team at Kings College London in 2010 showed that social interaction and "simple pleasures" had the biggest impact on people's levels of agitation and provided the greatest benefit to the person with dementia, (followed by contact with small children and then, pets).
How can deep engagement with an older person with moderate or advanced dementia be achieved? The skill is all in the way that we react to the person. If we find out the basics of the person's history, achievements and interests, we can have an enjoyable conversation, even if it may not echo the sort we might have with those without dementia. But a sincere, "Tell me about..." is one the most powerful things a person can say to another.
We're all experts of our own lives and when listened to "with meaning" we may discover much for our own enjoyment – as well as the other person's. People with dementia are no different. Telling their stories provides enjoyment for them and edification for us. By encouraging the person to talk about themselves – in whatever way they choose – and by showing sincere appreciation for them, we can acknowledge and support their intrinsic goals.
And that can make them happy – and by association, us as well.