Senior Lifestyles

A living bridge: teen offers seniors free USB sticks with medical information

photo courtesy of City of Los Altos Hills; Renny Glasner, 17, of Los Altos explains to seniors the benefits of a USB stick, which allows first responders to access critical medical data quickly. Glasner researched and organized the initiative for his Eagle Scout project.

A local teenager is aiming to provide seniors with a helpful tool during medical emergencies – a Universal Serial Bus (USB) stick.

Los Altos resident Warren “Renny” Glasner, 17, has the goal of providing 200 local seniors with free USB sticks that contain the owner’s relevant medical information, such as primary-care physician, emergency contacts and any medical restrictions or conditions. Glasner’s kickoff event is scheduled 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 16 and 17 at the Los Altos Hills Parks and Recreation Committee Center, located adjacent to town hall. Participating seniors will be outfitted on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies lasts.

Glasner told the Town Crier that by using information from the USB sticks, medical emergency responders could save critical time in the event of an incident involving an elderly resident. The task of supplying local seniors with the sticks, he added, is his Eagle Scout project.

“This would make it easier to establish contact with a physician or family members,” Glasner said. “As a responder or ER doctor, you’ll be able to determine what precautions to take based on the information on the USB stick. Most Eagle Scout projects include installing a park bench or building a shed, so part of my motivation was to do something new and different.”

Glasner selected the project after learning about a similar venture at Moldaw Residences, a Palo Alto senior living community. Originally, he planned to make emergency preparedness kits for seniors – until sticker shock forced him to change course.

“They ended up being pretty costly to assemble,” said Glasner, a junior at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto. “With a $1,000 budget, for instance, we would have been able to help only about 10 people.”

Building an intergenerational bridge

For advice and resources, Glasner turned to Los Altos resident Anabel Pelham, chairwoman of the Joint Los Altos/Los Altos Hills Senior Commission and professor of gerontology at San Francisco State University. Glasner soon found himself invited to present the project to members of the Rotary Club of Los Altos’ Partners for Elder Generations Committee. The result was a $670 donation, enough to purchase 200 USB sticks.

“She’s been very helpful,” Glasner said of Pelham. “She introduced me to people at Rotary, helped me set up some talks I gave to other organizations about my project and has been great about offering some general knowledge and advice.”

Pelham, meanwhile, said Glasner’s work is fulfilling on other fronts as well. She noted that one of the Senior Commission’s overarching goals, and hers as a gerontologist, is to connect older and younger generations in a meaningful way.

“Renny is like a living bridge to building an intergenerational community,” Pelham said. “He’s rare and unique in that way. … He’s really gone the extra mile to build that bridge with seniors.”

She added that the USB sticks could serve as a crucial tool for those who don’t use medical alert devices or wear medical ID bracelets. The sticks provide seniors with added peace of mind should a medical disaster occur.

“It’s a good example of best practices and a model project that’s been implemented in other communities,” Pelham said. “The important thing about the info on the USBs is that it’s as minimal as possible. So in case an elder loses it, there’s no massive privacy risk.”

Glasner said others have received his project positively, specifically noting the encouragement from members of the Senior Commission.

“My grandfather actually asked for one,” he said with a grin. “So, I’ll be sending him one, for sure.”

Glasner credited the Los Altos Hills Parks and Recreation Committee for being the first to offer space where he and his fellow Scouts can use their laptops to input seniors’ medical information onto the USB sticks.

Glasner is planning additional local events to complete his project. Dates have not been confirmed in time for the Town Crier’s press deadline.

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