There are numerous benefits for seniors when they understand how to use technology and how it can help improve their lives, but the learning curve can sometimes be challenging. For most technology, more and more people are beginning to embrace the digital age. According to Pew Research, almost 60% of American seniors over age 65 are now online.
Having access to a computer and the internet allows older adults to play engaging games, keep up-to-date on news and current events, and even research their next trip or what healthy recipes to cook up for dinner. Smartphones are a convenient way for seniors to stay connected through phone calls, email, or text. Portable tablets are increasingly popular with seniors and are helpful for aging eyes.
Tools like FaceTime and Skype allow seniors to actually see friends and loved ones who may live far away. Email and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram help seniors stay in touch with each other as well as family. Sometimes older adults can be somewhat fearful of the latest technology; however, staying connecting with family (even if it’s through FaceTime) could lift their spirits and help prevent loneliness and depression. Setting up a regular schedule with your loved ones helps provide a connection they may not be able to have otherwise. Affordable webcams could be a gift to your senior parent so that he/she can watch their grandchildren or great-grandchildren playing in a soccer game or showing off their latest school project.
As part of AARP’s social mission, they are committed to increasing digital literacy among people age 50 and older. AARP TEK team offers free hands-on mobile technology workshops around the country.
Below are a few of our favorite savvy solutions that may help to keep older adults healthy, safe and socially connected with family members from afar:
- Safety — Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), also known as Medical Emergency Response Systems, 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 an emergency situation. Safety is also a major concern for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related diseases. There are a number of GPS devices that can monitor a senior’s location and send alerts to help reduce caregivers’ worries. Here are just a few:
- Mindme has been designed to find people who wander because they have dementia or learning difficulties. The design is simple, with no confusing lights or buttons. It is small and light and it can easily be carried anywhere.
- SafeLink is a web-based tracking application which means you can access it from just about anywhere at any time, and multiple logins are supported
- Health Tracking — Smartphone apps can help seniors and their family caregivers keep information such as medical history, physician contacts, medication schedules, and health conditions organized and handy. Getting the best fitness tracker for seniors can be a little confusing. Be sure to assess the exact needs of your loved one and do your research. See the top three picks from Best Of Seniors Online.
- Social Connection — As previously mentioned, social media can help keep seniors in touch with long-distance family members and friends. According to United Healthcare’s Survey of Centenarians, staying socially engaged is just as important to healthy aging as genetics and maintaining a healthy body.
Staying in touch with friends and loved ones is beneficial to the mental health of seniors, and with today’s technology, it is easier than ever. Assisted Living Communities across the country have noted an increase in tech-savvy seniors, and as a result, are exploring creative new ways to meet their residents’ desire for greater connectivity. At The Inn At Bear Trail, we provide residents with a long list of amenities, including high-speed wireless internet service (Wi-Fi), which allows seniors to get online no matter where they are within the facility.
Sometimes students from local high schools or colleges volunteer their time at retirement centers to teach residents about the latest online tools; it’s a great opportunity for intergenerational learning!