weekly blog--one for the ages
In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act set penalties for employers who knowingly hired undocumented immigrants. It was the first time the federal government had made it a crime to employ undocumented workers. Yet instead of destroying the underground labor market, this new law made it more sophisticated, producing a thriving market for fake U.S. birth certificates, IDs and social security cards, which undocumented workers then presented to their employers who either didn’t know they were fake, or didn’t look too closely.
When the employer submits a W-2 form and a tax payment on those workers’ behalf to the Social Security Administration, the federal government holds onto those payroll taxes, even if the Social Security number isn’t linked to anyone on file. Eventually, most of that money ends up in the Social Security trust funds from which retirement benefits are doled out to aging Americans.
The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration estimated that in 2010 about 1.8 million immigrants were working with fake or stolen Social Security cards. They paid $13 billion into the retirement trust fund and only got about $1 billion in benefits. He expected the number of immigrants using fake or stolen cards to reach 3.4 million by 2040.
According to conservative estimates from the Pew Research Center, in 2011 there were 850,000 undocumented immigrants over the age of 55 and 150,000 over the age of 65. It’s a relatively small portion of the 11+ million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. However, because undocumented immigrants of all ages are twice as likely as the general population to live in poverty, elderly immigrants without papers are less likely to have amassed savings.
To survive, many of these seniors are left with little choice but to keep working low-wage, often physically demanding jobs—street vending, cleaning houses or working as home caregivers—for the rest of their lives. Returning to their native countries is not always an option. Some immigrants say they intended to return, but there would be little waiting for them if they left because after living here for decades, their communities and families are in the U.S. And then there are those who would like to depart but fear that they wouldn’t be allowed to return to the U.S. if they wanted to come back.
Updated Immigration Numbers…In 2015, 1.38 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, a 2 percent increase from 1.36 million in 2014. India was the leading country of origin for recent immigrants, with 179,800 arriving in 2015, followed by 143,200 from China, 139,400 from Mexico, 47,500 from the Philippines, and 46,800 from Canada. In 2013, India and China overtook Mexico as the top origin countries for recent arrivals.
Overall, the immigrant population in 2015 was older than the U.S.-born population: The median age of immigrants was 43.9 years, compared to 36 years for the native born. In 2015, fewer than 1 percent of immigrants were under age 5 (compared to 7 percent for the native born), approximately 5 percent were ages 5 to 17 (compared to 19 percent), 80 percent were ages 18 to 64 (compared to 60 percent), and 15 percent were ages 65 and older (the same as the U.S. born).
Ok. It took a few days for Senators Tom Cotton (age 40, R-Ark.) and David Perdue (age 68, R-Ga.) to remember what the President said at a meeting on immigration last week. Let’s cut them a little slack; everybody over a certain age can have what’s called a “Senior Moment” where the car keys go missing, where one can’t retrieve a once-familiar name, or stride into a room with purpose and then forget why.
It's common to occasionally not recall an event or a conversation, or be slow coming up with a word you want to say. However, if you consistently have no memory of events, even when others give you clues, or if a previously familiar word means nothing to you, especially if that occurs repeatedly, then it might be time to see a doctor.
Much of the time what people experience as a memory problem really boils down to a not-paying-attention issue. A memory is made up of a lot of different pieces stored in different parts of the brain. When you shut a door, for instance, your brain registers the feeling of your push on the door, the sound of the slam, an image of what room you were in, what you did next. When you're paying attention to all those things, even on a subliminal level, these pieces help you remember that you shut the door. When you're not, you may not retrieve that memory.
One of the main causes of the not-paying-attention issue is stress. When you’re stressed, you’re not as able to focus on what you’re doing. If you’re not attending to an experience, such as putting your keys down on a table, you’ll never get the information you need into memory storage.
A few more distractions to consider…People who are sleep-deprived don’t remember things as well as people who are well-rested. Experiments have shown that people who sleep after learning new information remember more eight or even 24 hours later than those who don’t. People who are depressed often look very much like people who have dementia in terms of memory loss. However, their memory loss is not of the progressive nature that occurs in people with dementia. When the underlying depression is treated, their memory returns.
Finally, many medications that people take for chronic health conditions can interfere with their memory. These often interact in ways that cause people to feel depressed, sleepy and anxious. The problem of “polypharmacy” (taking many medications, some of which interact badly), is also a serious one that affects millions of older adults who see multiple medical professionals.
Alas, one study suggests that noticing memory lapses is actually a good thing. Research shows that people with dementia tend to lose awareness that their memory is going two to three years before the condition develops. So people who notice their little slips can be safe in the knowledge that any significant mental decline is years off, and may not develop at all.
The first Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held in June 1967 in New York City. It was a spinoff from the Chicago Music Show, which until then had served as the main event for exhibiting consumer electronics. The event had 17,500 attendees and more than 100 exhibitors. From 1978 to 1994, CES was held twice each year: once in January in Las Vegas and once in June in Chicago. In 1998, the show changed to a once-a-year format with Las Vegas as the sole location.
This year’s show began this past Tuesday and ends on Friday. More than 4,000 vendors and 180,000 attendees are expected. Alas, while more and more tech products focused on the elderly are coming to market, the truth is that many aren’t very practical.
Take Hip’Air, for example. Introduced at this year’s CES, it’s an $800 airbag belt that you wear around your hips to prevent injuries from a fall. And then there is E-VONE, which makes a smart shoe with sensors in the sole to notify someone when the wearer falls. The shoes, which you can rent for about 30 euros ($36) a month, also vibrate so the wearer knows that someone has been contacted.
Also for 30 euros a month, there is now a “toolkit” for the elderly you can rent from LiLiSmart that has three components: an app where caregivers communicate with each other and with healthcare professionals who have partnered with the company, a very simple watch that vibrates and shows a picture of a pill as a reminder, and a set of motion sensors. The sensors can adhere to things like a pill organizer to make sure the person is taking their medication, or a refrigerator to make sure they’re still opening it several times a day.
And last but not least are the sleek new smart hearing aids from companies such as Oticon and ReSound that can communicate with smoke alarms and doorbells.
One day early this week...Welcome to the year 2018. Believe it or not, there are upsides to getting older. Research suggests that people who were in older life were happier, more satisfied, less depressed, had less anxiety, and less perceived stress than younger respondents.
According to one of the authors of a new study, when people face endings they tend to shift from goals about exploration and expanding horizons to ones about savoring relationships and focusing on meaningful activities. “When you focus on emotionally meaningful goals, life gets better, you feel better, and the negative emotions become less frequent and more fleeting when they occur,” she said.
Research also suggests that improved mental health in old age could be due to the wisdom people acquire as they grow older. Another possible explanation could stem from the physiology of the brain. Brain-imaging studies show that older people are less responsive to stressful images than younger people.
For example, when scientists showed older and younger adults pictures of a smiling baby, an image designed to make everyone happy, both groups exhibited increased activation in the part of the brain associated with emotion. However, while a disturbing image of a car accident evoked a lot of activity in the emotional region of the brain of young people, older people had a much more subdued response.
Another important research finding: despite our culture’s obsession with youth, it turns out that the 20s and 30s are generally a very stressful time for many young adults because of the many pressures unique to this life phase including establishing a career, finding a life partner and navigating financial issues.