Technology is changing the way seniors live out their Golden Years and how they interact with caregivers. Here are 10 technological advances that today’s seniors have begun to embrace.
- Tablets. Tablets, iPads, and e-readers are the crossword puzzle of today. Not only do these devices help seniors keep their mind active, they can also be used to find information, connect with loved ones, and communicate with health and care providers. They are lightweight with easy-to-use touchscreens and adjustable displays for those with visual impairments.
- Hearing aids. Listen up! Hearing aids are no longer the bulky over-ear devices of yesteryear. Today’s hearing aids are discrete assistive technology that can help a senior enjoy and interact with his or her world without the frustrations that go along with auditory decline.
- Video games. While grandma might not embrace Call of Duty, many video games, such as Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies, offer entertainment and stave off cognitive decline. Video games can help boost senior brainpower while providing an opportunity to connect with grandchildren on their level.
- Visual communication. According to the National Institute on Aging, social relationships are closely linked with health biomarkers in older adults. Unfortunately, social isolation is an issue that increases with age. Mobility issues often make it difficult for seniors to simply pay their loved ones a visit on a whim. Enter video communication. Services such as Skype and Facetime allow older adults the opportunity to talk with friends, family, and even healthcare providers without having to leave their safe space.
- Health tracking devices. The AARP notes that only about 11% seniors currently own a wearable device, such as a health and fitness tracker. However, the small, unintrusive devices can provide the wearer with insights on their health that were previously only available in a medical setting. Health and fitness trackers can monitor heart rate, rest periods, and even sleeping patterns. This information is collected and available online, allowing caregivers to monitor for changes in activity that might point to an accident or illness.
- Wireless Internet. Wireless connectivity is being adopted more and more by older Americans who are learning to appreciate the freedom that comes with Wi-Fi.
- Smartphones. Today it seems that virtually everyone from the very young to the very old has a smart phone in their hands at all time. Seniors have numerous smartphone options, many of which are geared directly to those with visual or auditory impairments.
- Home monitoring and security. Sadly, senior citizens over the age of 65 are often the target of burglaries, home invasions, and door-to-door scams. Home security systems can help a caregiver stay abreast of actions that happen at the senior’s home, even if they are hundreds of miles away. Many systems have cameras that can be remotely activated to answer doors and contact authorities in the event of an emergency.
- GPS tracking. Adult children with aging parents can continue to allow their mom or dad the freedoms associated with driving while still keeping a watchful eye on their highway habits. MOTOsafety and similar devices are small GPS tracking systems that monitor driving habits and location and send alerts to caregivers when the vehicle is being driven unsafely.
- Smart home devices. Smartphone devices, such as Google home, provide seniors access to information and entertainment via voice control. These devices may additionally be linked to lights, televisions, home security systems, and other appliances, allowing seniors to control their world without constantly getting up and down to flip switches and push buttons.
For seniors who need basic assistance and want to remain at home, these services are an attractive option. And, depending on the amount of care required, they can be a more affordable option as well. For example, in Washington D.C., a resident could spend $3,000 on care services and $2,787 on their mortgage, and still spend less than the $5,933 it would take to live in an assisted living facility. And as technology prices continue to decline, these and other products and services will only become more affordable to those on a fixed income.