Learn Why Seniors are Using More Technology Than Ever, and How Your Loved Ones Could Potentially Benefit
Where once seniors fought the use of technology, today many are embracing apps, games, and devices to stay connected, engaged, and challenged. In the past, technology was designed by and for the current generation which made it difficult for many seniors to learn to embrace. But today, more technology than ever before is being designed just for seniors.
From mobile apps to personal devices, there is a multitude of options for seniors who are living alone, fighting dementia, or just want to learn something new. By designing technology specifically for the aging population, developers and engineers are removing the traditional barriers that prevent people from learning to use this technology. Barriers like poor eyesight, audio impairment, or reduced motor-skills are now key design influences for this segment of technological advancement.
And seniors are loving it! Now retirees are more connected, more engaged than ever before. And with the advent of social distancing to protect this vulnerable population, this technology has become more important than ever.
How to Introduce New Technology to Your Loved One
Now, with all of that said, new things are still a bit daunting. So be gentle when suggesting that older relative or friend learn to use yet another new thing whether it’s a device or app. The more simple you can make your explanation the better. This simplicity includes the reasons why they should use the new technology and how to use it.
Remember to be patient. You might not think that this new mobile app will take a few tries to learn because it seemed quite intuitive. But you have grown up with technology. A simple application to you can still be something new or foreign to your loved one. They might need to be shown how to use it a few times, especially if they have memory loss or impairment.
Try to find other people who are using it. If you find people they know, of their same age, you’ll automatically reduce many of the barriers to this new technology. You’ll also gain your loved one another potential teacher, or a friend with whom they can use the new technology.
Be demonstrative. Often, it’s not enough to tell someone why or how a new technology can or will change their life. Showing them will make it instantly clear and leave no room for confusion. So where you can, demonstrate something you want your loved one to learn how to use.
As with all technology, safety and privacy are always a big concern. Remember to discuss with your loved ones the importance of keeping their passwords private, only accessing these apps or using WIFI in trusted locations, and to keep their bank account and payment information safe.
Their school days might be long, long ago, but that doesn’t mean seniors are done learning. Not by a long shot. Seniors are learning new skills, reading, and more. Now with the advent of educational games, learning is more fun than ever. Some might even say it’s addicting.
Thanks to innovative apps like DuoLingo, learning a language is fun and it’s free! Now those individuals who had the lifelong dream of learning to speak a new language can do it and have fun while they do.
Today you can gamify just about everything, even typing. Smart phone apps are using games to help seniors improve their coordination and motor-functions like finger dexterity. Not only do they get the cognitive and physical benefits, but seniors are then also more able to text their family and keep in touch on the go.
Seniors can access free library books and their favorite publications right from their phone, smart tablet, or eReader. Whether for learning or just for fun, reading has a profoundly healthy impact on the brain.
Not all games have to be educational, some are just downright fun and others are relaxing. There’s a pretty good chance that your senior’s favorite card game is now an app, or that they have found something new and exciting to play.
For those seniors battling dementia or impaired memory, and those who just want to stay as sharp as they can while they age, memory games are fun and effective. There is a vast set of options from which they can choose: from purely functional to those that have more of a story or challenge.
Health and Wellness
Healthcare and personal health are being revolutionized by technology. From new and better testing equipment, to personal apps and devices to be used in the home, seniors are better able to understand and manage their health than ever before.
Whether via a mobile app or a small wearable device like a watch, bracelet, or pendant, we can now manage daily activity and vitals. From counting our steps to taking our pulse small tech can now monitor our health and wellness with ease.
Doctor’s appointments can be hard to schedule, difficult to get to, and now pose health risks of their own in terms of exposure to a virus or other flus. Seniors can now monitor their health better than ever and share data with their healthcare providers. Important data like blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep quality, and more can now be measured in the comfort of their home.
Seniors can now also see their doctors and healthcare providers virtually through specific apps or via Facetime. While these virtual visits won’t completely erase the need for in office visits, to have lab work, evaluations, or other tests done, they can cut down significantly on the number of times a patient needs to make a trip to the hospital or doctor’s office.
Improving Sleep Quality
As we age, the quality of our sleep declines. Seniors can have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. From CPAP technology to smart speakers, and other AI devices, our seniors can help improve the quality of their sleep. These devices can help turn on and off lights, play music or ambient noises, control the heating and air conditioning, even track the quality of our sleep.
Meditation and Relaxation
Prayer, meditation, and now relaxation apps are popping up all over the place. These mobile applications enable users to gain access to health aids that can help to lower stress and improve one’s affect. The benefits of this reduced stress and/or improved mental health can also greatly improve physical conditions like high blood pressure and hypertension.
Seniors are bonding online much like the rest of these days. From connecting with their grandchildren, or playing games with their friends, our senior friends and family are better connected than ever.
Senior Specific Phones
With easy to read screens and buttons that are clear too, there are now phones designed specifically for seniors. These phones help keep older people in touch with friends and loved ones now that wall phones are being replaced.
Video Calls and Conferencing
Smart devices are now designed specifically to help older users video call friends and loved ones. These devices have large clear displays that make it not only to use but to see the faces of their grandkids, friends, and more. Using WiFi, these devices do not require a separate phone or data plan which makes them more affordable.
Other Reasons Seniors Are Embracing Technology
Technology is being designed to help those who have limited vision, hearing, mobility, and dexterity live more fulfilled lives with less dependence upon others. Certain applications and devices now allow users to operate them with voice commands. Others have bigger, brighter displays. Others help to the elderly to move about either by physical assistance or by lighting a room upon entry.
Saving Money and Resources
Smart Speakers from companies like Amazon and Google help improve the quality of life for seniors in a variety of ways. When going to bed, you can make it all the way to the door, or even upstairs before remembering to turn off a light, turn down the heat, or double check that the oven is turned off. These devices also have timers built in where you can set a schedule for your lights, to help avoid leaving them on all night or when you are away from home.
With these devices and mobile apps, you can tie in your door locks and security system to make sure that everything is locked and set before you turn in for the night. Lights can be set on timers to make it look like you are home or awake at night for an added crime deterrent.