Throughout the last decade, technology advances have made life easier for people of all ages. From helping adults manage medications to ordering groceries and tracking fitness and health goals, technology helps make everyday tasks easier and more efficient. For many older adults, technology can be intimidating. However, the benefits of seniors using technology are starting to become more apparent. That’s because innovations specifically designed for older adults have significantly improved over the last decade. Easily usable devices such as lifeline alarms, pendants, and GPS trackers have been introduced into the senior living industry, giving seniors, caregivers and family members peace of mind. As technology becomes more accessible to seniors, more older adults are interested in learning how to use it in their everyday lives.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults were forced to rely on technology to connect with their loved ones. In fact, according to a 2020 AARP survey, “Tech ownership among older adults is growing with no signs of slowing down. For many devices, adoption among older adults ages 50 and older is comparable to younger generations. Older adults are adopting smartphones, wearables, home assistants/ smart speakers, and smart-home technology at the same rate as adults ages 18-49.” Not only are older adults beginning to engage with technology more often, but many are also experiencing its wide variety of physical, mental and social benefits.
While keeping up with evolving trends can seem difficult, especially for seniors, research shows older adults are eager to engage with the newest technologies. While technology can help maintain independence by easing the burden of everyday tasks, it can also provide several benefits that support longevity and overall health and wellness.
Older adults are at an increased risk of experiencing loneliness and social isolation. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that more than one-fourth of adults ages 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that long-term social isolation in seniors can significantly increase a person’s risk of premature death, dementia, depression, anxiety and suicide.
Many older adults are looking to technology to help combat social isolation and prevent its serious long-term effects. A study conducted by The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that “using the internet is associated with lower depression and loneliness and higher levels of social support, life satisfaction, purpose in life, and social capital.” In this same study, older adults reported using technology to prevent feelings of loneliness and found that using the internet decreased the impact of social isolation on seniors and promoted connection.
Today, it’s easy to communicate and socialize with others through modern technology. Tablets and smartphones allow us to see and talk to others while also making those connections more accessible for older adults with low vision or hearing loss.
For seniors aging at home, one of the largest concerns for family members is the safety of their loved ones, especially if they live long distance. Senior home monitoring technology has helped ease this concern by providing security features such as tracking one’s movement, sleep, location and care patterns. Some devices can even send an alert to emergency medical professionals with the push of a button.
Technology provides a wide variety of entertainment options specifically designed for older adults. Smart devices can provide online exercise classes, games, movies, and experiences that allow older adults to engage with others in the comfort of their own homes. Smart devices can also enhance traditional hobbies by making them more accessible to those with specific health needs. For example, those with low vision can enlarge the font when reading a book on a tablet, and those with hearing loss can connect their devices to their hearing aids, making it easier to talk on the phone or listen to a podcast.
Exercise and health tracking
Maintaining your physical health is important at any age, but especially for older adults. Senior health tracking tools and apps can help track important health information such as level of activity, medication schedules, medical history, health conditions and important numbers. Devices can also be used to help promote daily exercise by counting steps and sending reminders when it’s time to move.
There are so many ways tech-savvy seniors can use technology to improve their quality of life. From connecting with family and friends to unleashing their inner artist, new technologies not only support a full and holistic life but are also easy to use and generally accessible for most older adults. Here are a few benefits to seniors using technology:
· Manage finances. Older adults are at a greater risk of falling victim to fraudsters and scammers. Using technology to check bank balances for fraudulent charges and signing up for fraud detection can allow older adults to protect themselves from scammers.
· Schedule appointments. Managing appointments can be difficult at any age. However, older adults generally have more medical appointments to keep track of, which can become confusing and hard to manage. Using an online calendar on a smartphone or tablet can help keep all appointments in one place. Many physicians will text and email appointment reminders that can be imported directly into an online calendar.
· Maintain social connections. Whether your loved ones live long distance or you have a large family that’s hard to get together in one location, technology makes it easy to stay connected. Sharing pictures through google drive or using a videoconferencing platform such as FaceTime or WebEx allows families to stay connected despite the distance.
· Harness creativity. Unleashing your inner artist can improve your brain health and lower the risk of depression and anxiety. With the use of technology, older adults can practice their creativity without all the mess and supplies. Online apps such as Zen Brush and Paper by WeTransfer give you the feeling of painting and writing right on your phone or tablet and can be used virtually anywhere. Here are some of the best apps to get you started.
· Improve cognition. Learning new things is one of the best ways to keep your brain sharp and improve memory. Many websites offer free college-level classes to older adults. Coursera, BBC Language, and Academic Earth are some of the best. These websites offer lessons on language, history, arts and the sciences.
At Maplewood Senior Living, we know the benefits of seniors using technology. As a leader in the senior living industry, our communities use various elements of technology in each aspect of everyday life. Residents have access to Temi robots for socialization and companionship, Rendever virtual reality headsets for entertainment, and can utilize Eversound headsets to listen to music or programs. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.
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