Technological advancements can make life easier, safer, and healthier
By Caitlin Finlay
In their lifetimes, seniors have witnessed the evolution of technology, from the advent of computers and the Internet to the current norm of owning a smartphone that puts the Internet at your fingertips. But technology offers more than the ability to watch videos, play games, and find the answer to any question—it can also make life easier, safer, and healthier for seniors. Read on to discover four benefits technology can offer seniors.
An often-cited study from Brigham Young University found in 2015 that prolonged isolation is as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. With the social isolation brought on by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to keep in touch with friends and family digitally, whether through video calls, e-mails, or social media. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reported in January 2020—before the pandemic—that three quarters of Americans 50 or older were using social media regularly, with Facebook being the most frequently used. And according to a March 2021 Statistics Canada report based on 2018 figures, 50% of Canadians 65 or older are using social media.
While they can’t replace in-person interactions, online interactions can help maintain contact with loved ones and reduce the isolation between visits.
The desire to age at home has increasingly become a preferred option for seniors, and advances in smart home technology and in Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) devices are making the option much more feasible. PERS devices allow the wearer to call for help with the push of a button; most, in fact, can detect if the wearer has fallen and will automatically call for help, even if the wearer is unable to do so. Those with Alzheimer’s can wear a GPS device to prevent their getting lost should they wander. Smart home technology has seen advances in recent years that include home assistants that accept voice commands, home monitoring to see who’s at the door, and smart appliances to control the thermostat or automatically turn appliances on and off. All of these advances make living at home safer and help seniors maintain their independence.
Physical and Mental Exercise
With the closing of gyms due to the pandemic, many are turning to online fitness classes or videos to work out in the comfort of their own homes. Whether through following a video or playing a motion-activated fitness video game, you can tailor a workout to your needs and have fun with it. Games can also provide mental stimulation through memory, trivia, and math games. An AARP survey found that 44% of Americans over 50 play video games at least once a month, with 49% of women and 40% of men regularly playing video games. The most common games are puzzles and logic and card games. Games are a good source of mental stimulation, but they’re also fun and can be a good stress reliever.
Tracking Health and Medications
Advances in fitness and health trackers mean that it’s not only possible but common to track daily steps, calories, sleep, and heart rate. These trackers allow you to monitor your health and can help you detect changes sooner.
Apps such as Care Zone, Caring Village, and Me and My Caregivers allow you to keep a record of your medical history, appointments, and medications. These records can even be shared with your family or senior-care professionals to provide tailored individual care. If pill boxes aren’t quite enough to keep track of medications, apps such as RxmindMe, Personal Caregiver, and MyMeds can provide scheduled reminders for medications and can also be connected to family members or medical providers. Apps like these can also prevent taking the wrong medication at the wrong time or mixing medications by mistake.