Technology has come a long way over the course of older adults’ lifetimes. They have witnessed everything from men landing on the moon to dramatic medical advances and the rise of an Internet-dependent society.
Seniors also bear witness to the ways technology is changing the face of aging. Impact your clients’ quality of life by sharing these five tech solutions that may help to keep older adults healthy, safe and socially connected while making caregiving tasks less stressful for their family members.
1. Social Connection – Video Chat and Social Media Keep Seniors in Touch with Long-distance Loved Ones
According to UnitedHealthcare’s 2012 100@100 survey of centenarians, staying socially engaged is just as important to healthy aging as genetics and maintaining a healthy body.
While no technology can take the place of in-person human interaction, video chat services like Skype, or Internet-based communication channels such as email and social media, can supplement seniors’ social interactions when visits with friends and family aren’t possible or too infrequent. Seniors can check with their local senior center for Internet how-to classes, or they can have a tech-savvy grandchild get them set up and show them the ropes.
2. Safety – Seniors Living Alone Can Get Help with the Push of a Button
rveys 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.
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.
3. 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 Nintendo’s Wii sports games offer for 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). Encourage seniors to practice on their own and then challenge their grandkids.
4. 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.
5. Health Tracking – Online Tools Simplify the Process of Maintaining and Accessing Seniors’ Health Information
Smartphone apps and cloud-based health information tracking systems can help seniors and their family caregivers keep information such as medical history, physician contacts, medication schedules, and health conditions organized and handy.