Fri10242014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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PAMF pilot program aims to track well-being of seniors via utility usage


Screenshot Courtesy of Palo Alto Medical Foundation
linkAges’ TimeBank system allows users to seek and offer services for hours that are banked and later used for other needs.

A new Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) program seeks to increase the independence of seniors and, by extension, alleviate the concerns of their relatives or caretakers.

The multifaceted linkAges program, sponsored by PAMF’s David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation, analyzes seniors’ utility usage patterns as a way to warn caregivers – such as adult children – that a larger issue may exist.

According to the center’s executive director, Martin Entwistle, the signal detection system is part of the program’s larger overall goal to create a connected community that allows a growing senior population to “age successfully” and independently in their own homes.

Statistics compiled by the center reveal that 10,000 baby boomers have turned 65 every day since Jan. 1, 2011. The total number of people older than 65 in the U.S. will double by 2030, research reports.

Other aspects of the linkAges program include a senior-focused resource list – complete with user reviews – and a service exchange network that allows participants to “bank” hours providing a service for a senior, like taking the garbage to the curb for them weekly. That person’s banked hours can later be spent on a service provided by another user in the system. Entwistle noted that the aim is to create a community of trusted individuals – akin to the friendly neighbor who checks in on the elderly person next door.

“Part of the problem we’ve seen is breakdowns in the fabric of society because people become isolated, families are scattered,” Entwistle said. “The things that used to make it possible for this to just happen naturally are no longer in place. So when (elderly) people desire to live in their own home, they become isolated and they become at-risk.”

At the same time, he noted, the program’s utility consumption monitoring system can offer a sense of independence for seniors, without the feeling of having a caretaker constantly peering over their shoulder.

Existing technology tracks usage

The linkAges program uses technology already existing in homes, like PG&E SmartMeters, to track utility consumption and establish patterns of normal usage behavior by participating seniors. For instance, if a senior’s electricity use experienced a significant spike over a span of several days – signaling a potential problem – the system would notify the caretaker of the change.

“Our thinking when we were working on this problem space was this: Is there a way that you can capture information almost without having to deploy anything new into somebody’s home?” Entwistle noted. “What is it that we might be able to track that can help us?”

Entwistle said the system is the product of a developer challenge held 18 months ago. The winner of that challenge, Vevity, is now partnering with the center in a phased rollout of the program. Currently, several of the center’s team members are testing the utility usage system and the program’s additional offerings as well.

“We’re using ourselves kind of as guinea pigs,” he said with a chuckle.

Eventually, he noted, the center hopes to beta test the program in the homes of 15-20 seniors.

“If we track that data that is already being collected, can it tell us enough to know when things might be happening to an individual that we should be concerned about?” Entwistle asked. “It’s patterns of behavior, so it isn’t really looking for one thing happening. If we looked at the electricity usage of this person in their home over a period of time and then looked at it again, has it changed significantly? Is there a standard pattern? We’re all creatures of habit.”

Building trust

Entwistle readily acknowledged that the program’s largest hurdle remains trust. Still, he noted that the overall benefits of the utility usage system – independence for seniors and peace of mind for relatives and caretakers – should outweigh “big brother” concerns.

“We’re not being blind to people’s potential concerns about having data from their homes captured,” Entwistle said. “But is that a reason for not doing it, when the potential of doing it is so great?”

Entwistle added that the decision to participate in the program will rest with seniors themselves, while someone they already know receives collected utility data.

“Because there are processes to join, so to speak, then you’ll probably trust more of the things that go on within it,” he said. “It’s done willingly, and you know people have been processed to some extent. It’s very different than just opening your door to just anyone.”

For more information, visit innovation.pamf.org.

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