Technology and Seniors
Todays seniors have watched as technology as we know it has conceptualized and evolved.
Seniors also bear witness to the ways technology is changing the face of aging. Seniors can impact their quality of life by implementing these five tech solutions that can help to keep older adults healthy, safe, and socially connected.
According to United Healthcare’s 2015 survey of centenarians, staying socially engaged is just as important to healthy aging as genetics and maintaining a healthy body.
Social Connection – Video Chat and Social Media Keep Seniors in Touch with Long-distance Loved Ones
While technology can not take the place of in person interaction, video chat services like Skype, or communication channels such as email and social media, can supplement seniors’ social interactions when visits with friends and family are not always possible. Many senior centers are now offering technology training, as are local colleges, or they can have a tech-savvy family member get them started and tutor them along the way.
Safety – Seniors Living Alone Can Get Help with the Push of a Button
Surveys consistently show that 80 to 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own home as they age. A number of technological solutions can make doing so safer for them. Any senior that lives alone should have a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS). A PERS device allows the wearer to call for help with the simple push of a button. Both seniors and their families can have peace of mind knowing the PERS can facilitate a call for help in any emergency situation. Many PERS devices can connect to applications for smart phones, so that loved ones can be alerted immediately in the case of an emergency.
Safety is also a paramount concern for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, especially those prone to wandering. A number of GPS tracking devices that can monitor a senior’s location and send alerts are great tools to keeps caregivers’ worries at bay and prevent potentially dangerous or deadly situations. Check out these innovative GPS gadgets for Alzheimer’s wanderers.
Exercise – Video Games Get Seniors’ Bodies and Minds Moving
Many nursing homes and assisted living communities have already recognized the recreational and exercise benefits that game systems such as Nintendo’s Wii offer elderly adults. Seniors living at home could also benefit by owning a Wii or other video game system controlled by motion. The games offer a fun opportunity for seniors to engage in light physical activity from the comfort of their own living room.
For mental exercise, seniors could try games such as Tetris (spatial recognition), Trivial Pursuit (fact recall), or Mahjong (memory and matching). Playing these games during family visits can help create a fun environment for seniors and kids alike.
Medication Management – Smartphone Apps Can Help Prevent Medication Errors
Many seniors find it challenging to keep track of their medications. The reason why is clear: According to a 2009 survey by Medco Health Solutions, more than half of the older adult respondents said they took at least five different prescription drugs regularly, and 25 percent said they took between 10 and 19 pills a day.
Pill boxes help, but technological solutions that also provide reminders and “time to refill” alerts could potentially aid adherence to the prescribed medication schedule. Seniors and their caregivers can take advantage of the RxmindMe or Personal Caregiver medication reminder smartphone app to reduce missed medications and prevent medication errors.
Studies show seniors who spend time online saw a 20 percent reduction in stress than seniors who were not on-line or utilizing technology in some capacity, the Phoenix Center reports. In addition to the quality of life benefits, reducing the cases of depression through widespread Internet use among older Americans could trim the nation’s health care bill.
There are many benefits to seniors adopting technology into their daily lives. Often the fear of learning a new technology can hinder a senior from using these and other options. There are numerous options for seniors to learn new technology, from senior group classes, community college courses, and learning from friends and families.