Technology for Seniors & Elder CarePosted on May 23, 2014 by ElderCare Resources Phoenix in Blog, Caregiver Education, Education, Home Care Non-Medical, Independent Living
Elders & Technology: Enhancing The Quality of Life for Seniors
By: Morningside Ministries
A couple of years ago The Telegraph shed light on how technological advancements can isolate elderly people. Technologies were labeled as digital barriers that practically quarantine seniors, which can cause loneliness, depression, frustration, and anxiety.
Older people have trouble accessing public service information online. Ordering groceries online, rather than receiving meals on wheels, cuts back on visitors to the home. The perspective was that technologies negating reasons to go to the post office or see a doctor, for example, kept elders at home, which can affect their mental health.
Elders Embracing Technology
In 2014, “movement into digital life continues to deepen” for American seniors, reports the Pew Research Internet Project. A socioeconomic division divides the senior population and influences their technology usage.
Older persons who are less affluent and plagued with health challenges or disabilities are more likely to be digitally detached from online tools and services. Highly educated and more affluent seniors positively respond to technology and online platforms.
Among these seniors ages 65 or older, 59 percent do go online — 47 percent have high-speed broadband connection at home and 77 percent use a cell phone. Twenty-seven percent of seniors even use a tablet or e-book reader. Older adults may initially experience hurdles while learning to use the Internet and technologies, but once they join the digital world, it becomes integral to daily living.
Independence & Social Connections
A connection with the digital world goes beyond online researching or social networking. Technological advancements can improve seniors’ quality of life and offer more independence. They’ll feel more secure and less abandoned with the aid of a senior care gadget or video sharing app.
Tech startup Lively offers home monitoring services that pair sensors with a wireless hub. Lively co-founder David Glickman likes that he can support his 81-year-old father’s independence by monitoring his daily routine without too much intrusion, shares PBS.org. For instance, a red face alerts Glickman that his dad hasn’t taken his medication. In a few months, Lively will launch an accelerometer-equipped pendant that notifies caregivers if the wearer falls. Engaging with technology also enables seniors to consult with a virtual physician, access electronic health records and request a medical professional driver.
And what about social interactions? The Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project’s senior researcher Aaron Smith opens up to NPR’s Michel Martin about how seniors have internalized and value the social benefits of technology. Staying in touch with family and social support are two motivators for seniors to adopt technological habits, points out Smith.
Safe & Healthy Digital Living
Challenges, such as health conditions and disabilities, can impede an elder from technological engagement. For example, “about a quarter of the senior population has a physical condition that makes reading challenging,” mentions Martin. Cognitive impairment, along with physical limitations, can prevent a senior from reading the small screen of a smartphone or handling the touchscreen. Also, seniors simply just don’t know how to use the Internet or a tablet, but as a caregiver, you can help.
Teaching skills and providing assistance give seniors technological capabilities and confidence. As a caregiver, improve the wellbeing of your loved one by helping with the following technologies.
- Tablets (iPad) are sizable enough to see and manage for everyday matters. Seniors can access an electronic health record, monitor bank accounts and investments and even research insurance quotes.
- Medication dispensing system (TabSafe) reminds users to take medication and sends alerts if dose time is missed.
- Medical emergency response system (PERS) calls for help during an emergency by pushing a button.
- Touchscreen computer (Telikin) simplifies the computer experience with a big button menu and displayed feature functions.
- Health tracking tool (Health Vault) manages health online, from storing and organizing health information to discovering apps and devices.
- Wearable health monitoring sensor (Metria by Avery Dennison) sticks to the body as an adhesive and collects health data such as heart rate and blood pressure.