More Jackson County Opinions...

August 22, 2001


Column
By Jana Adams
The Jackson Herald
August 22, 2001

Cameras on our old age?
The baby boomers are getting older, venturing into retirement. So what comes next?
Because they make up such a large part of our population, one supposition is that there will not be enough nurses and caretakers for the baby boomers as they grow into old age. I heard a story on public radio the other morning about how some researchers - at Georgia Tech, I believe the report said - are approaching this potential dilemma.
No one getting older really wants to leave their home and go "into care" and who can blame them? I don't relish that thought for my future, either. Everyone wants to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.
But that's not always feasible, so what comes next? Well, you've heard the debates on cameras in the workplace, cameras in public places, cameras on the roads...What comes next could be cameras in the home.
These researchers are studying the possibility of placing tiny cameras throughout the homes of aging or elderly parents, with their grown children or other caretakers able to access the views afforded via the Internet.
The idea is that if there is some way to check up on the older people periodically, assessing their level of activity throughout the day, then it may be possible for older adults to remain in their home longer, avoiding a nursing home or assisted living facility.
I listened to the story as I moved from room to room in my (cameraless) house getting ready for work, so I can't explain the whole concept as fully as the story did. It's possible that I missed portions of it. But I don't think the idea is to have a clear view of the viewees, per say, like watching a movie of someone in their home, but, rather, a way to note where they are in the home and what they have been doing - perhaps even to wire the house to somehow assess whether or not the person has taken medication or what sort medical responses they are having that day and what should be done accordingly.
That's a bizarre thought, maintaining independence via a camera surveillence of sorts; even if the cameras wouldn't afford direct pictures, there's no getting away from the surveillance notion. Of course there have been some suggestions of "Big Brother," of invasion of privacy, of being "watched" in your own home.
Would older people faced with the choice of entering into assisted living choose instead to have cameras in their home, however theoretically unobtrusive they are designed to be? I don't know; I can't imagine most of the older people I know or have known agreeing to that. Or would they be relieved to be able to stay in their home, whatever the cost in privacy?
I don't like being on camera whichever way I turn - out in public, at work, wherever - but I understand there are security issues to be considered in some instances. I suppose a camera in the home could be considered a security measure, as well, but knowing how much I value my privacy and sense of my place and my space, I think it would be a hard adjustment.
But would it be better than leaving home behind altogether?
Maybe researchers will one day find a way to reverse the aging process altogether, but in the meantime, will technology be "the answer" for our aging society? Or will it simply replace one set of concerns with as yet unheard-of issues?
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
August 22, 2001


For what's it's worth: An opinion
I believe the only Herald staff member I've ever disagreed with, argued with, debated and given advice on these pages is the editor. That is about to change.
Speaking of the editor, Mike Buffington is either good or lucky.
If putting Charlie Broadwell's "Some thoughts on PETA" next to my "This is a big pile of stuff" in the July 25 edition was done on purpose, he is a genius. If it just happened to be there by accident, he was favored by chance.
Either way, Broadwell's stuff belonged alongside my stuff. In fact, if his stuff had been moved over just two columns, it would have been substance (look up substance) on top of my big pile of stuff. Yuck!
I like definition no. 6: "substance: a particular kind of matter; stuff."
Get the picture? Smell the roses? Nothing like stinking up the paper, right?
But Broadwell and I are not alone. Tim Thomas makes a deposit (excuse me, contribution) occasionally. He called reader response to Broadwell's stuff "frenzied." (Look up frenzied.)
In my dictionary, there are two definitions: "greatly excited, frantic" and "crazy; mad."
I don't think the people who responded to Broadwell's stuff were greatly excited, frantic, or crazy.
Mad? Probably - and with good reason. I wouldn't like to be called a filthy, illogical, ignorant communist, either. Would you?
Whether we're talking about PETA, the KKK, the NRA, the ACLU, Boy Scouts, gays or the religion we love to hate, we should be somewhat civil about it.
That's my opinion, Charlie. (Look up opinion.)
Anyway, I got the impression that Broadwell was pretty worked up about PETA. I'll leave it to you to decide if he was greatly excited, frantic, crazy and mad.
We know he was enraged. He said so himself in the second paragraph of his "thoughts." And he got that way "within 30 seconds" after researching PETA on the Internet. That's all the time he needed "to find out how ignorant these people really are." (PETA people; has a nice ring, doesn't it?)
(Your boiling point may be a bit low, Charlie. That's also this old man's opinion and/or advice to a young, talented and budding journalist, and you can take it for what it's worth.)
And Mike, I was a little disappointed in your editor's note to one of the letter writers. You said "We're sorry that you find the free expression of one's opinion 'declasse.' Guess we aren't as sophisticated as you folks in Marietta."
You should have added cultured, debonair and suave to sophisticated. That's the way us rednecks usually respond to someone more sophisticated than we are.
Incidentally, I looked up "declasse" in the dictionary, and I still don't know what it means. I think what it means is, the Marietta guy who wrote the letter is smarter than I am.
I have no big problem, Mike, with "free expression," except we need to take it one step further. True, we are free to express. By the same token, we are free not to express. Sometimes the freedom not to do or say something is greater than the freedom to do or say it.
"One's opinion" bothers me a little bit. And I'm talking about yours, mine, Charlie's and everybody's.
In my opinion, a lot of our opinions are not opinions. They are off-the-wall, off-the-top-of-the-head, knee-jerk, hasty, foolish, stupid reactions. You can come up with one of those in 30 seconds. An opinion takes a little longer.
I took my own advice and looked up opinion.
"Opinion: what a person thinks about something."
So opinion involves thinking. But what does think mean?
On the way to think, I ran across opinionated.
"Opinionated: obstinate or conceited with regard to one's opinion; dogmatic."
"Think: to form (a thought or idea) in the mind, to reflect upon, consider, contemplate." That takes some time - a lot more than 30 seconds.
Don't be too hard on Charlie, Mike or me. We know the frustrating agony of having to meet a deadline. Too many stories to write; too little time to write them. Not enough hours to think, form, reflect, consider, contemplate; seconds aplenty to become greatly excited, frantic, crazy and mad.
Charlie may have been in a hurry. Could have been writing under pressure. And he was enraged, remember?
That may explain the use of that extravagant word, "most," in his opening sentence. "Most people are aware of PETA," he began.
Who was he talking about? Most people in Jefferson? Jackson County? Georgia? The U.S.? The world?
This is neither opinion nor fact, just a wild guess. Most people are not aware of PETA and have no idea what the letters stand for. I'm also guessing that most people don't give a rap.
Now, concerning that average person Charlie talked about, that one who wonders if there is any sanity left in the world. I sure would like to meet him or her. I imagine he or she would look around at all of us oddballs - those of us above or below average, whatever that is - and come to the conclusion that no, there isn't any sanity left in the world.
Charlie said that PETA people should at least try to give him some facts rather than trying to sell him an opinion.
Trying to separate fact from opinion will drive you nuts. That's a fact, not an opinion. And that is why there isn't any sanity left anywhere in the world.
You decide how long it took me to come up with that off-the-wall, off-the-top-of-the-head, knee-jerk, hasty, foolish, stupid, statement. Hint: it didn't take long enough for it to become an opinion.
To think, form, reflect, consider, contemplate: those are lifetime exercises and experiences that help us grow and change - hopefully for the better.
Please, don't give up on Charlie, Mike and me. Give us a little more time to mature.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.

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