Technology is evolving every day; advancements that once took years or decades today only require mere weeks or months to achieve in this fast-paced world. Not only can these advancements help to expand the psycho/social experience of seniors but new inventions are being introduced to help improve access to emergency services, support, and in-home resources for the homebound senior.
For instance, a company called Orbita has unveiled a home health care tool to help connect seniors with valuable information regarding medication adherence, caregiver coordination, and other important issues that arise when an individual is being treated within the home setting. Currently interfacing with the Amazon Echo Alexa product, Orbita is in talks with Google, Apple, and Microsoft to have those platforms successfully integrated with the tool sometime in 2017. This tool, working in tandem with the smart home tool (such as Alexa), would allow an individual to ask a question, verbally, without having to type or search for anything manually.
The senior would be able to ask questions about medication management or changes in pain or exacerbated symptoms and be connected to a live visiting nurse to address their concerns directly, expertly, and, most importantly, in real time.
While this specific tool might be a long way off before becoming commonplace in every home, there are still plenty of ways to integrate technology into the lives of seniors to help improve their quality of life. From medical alert systems to social networking, here are five simple ways technology can benefit the seniors in your life:
- Face to Face: New video chatting apps from companies like Google and Apple make it that much easier for seniors to connect with loved ones who may not live close by. These applications allow seniors to see their grandchildren’s’ smile in real time, enjoy conversation with faraway friends, and even provides the opportunity to attend family gatherings or festivities while homebound.
- Revisit & Remember: As technology advances, the rest of the world embraces it and today’s seniors get to benefit from it all! Now there are countless museums, galleries, and historic landmarks that provide virtual tours online; with the world at their fingertips, video tours and live streams from all over the world can connect seniors with places that they never thought they would see or never thought they would see again. This can be a huge source of comfort for someone living away from their home country or who longs for the memories they’ve created over the course of their lives; connecting seniors to their roots, their history, and their memories can be hugely invigorating.
- Mind Games: When the mind becomes complacent, often much else of the body will also begin to deteriorate. Word searches and scrambles, geometric puzzles and brain teasers are a great way to keep a senior’s mind active and engaged. There are countless websites and applications, for every level of difficulty, to help entertain seniors while helping to improve or maintain cognitive ability. These are also a good resource when a senior has trouble sleeping, these activities are ones they can do on their own with little help or support for others. Having an activity that is uniquely theirs will also provide a sense of ownership and independence in the senior, which is usually a major factor in quality of life.
- Social Experience: We have all seen the influx of grandparents on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, and more; it offers them the chance to keep up with friends and family while still feeling connected to society by having an understanding of new technology. More and more online platforms and applications are being designed specifically for seniors. Now there are support groups for various geriatric ailments, dating sites for people 65 and older, Facebook groups dedicated to the sharing of old photographs and memories-Grandpa is now just as hip as his millennial descendants! Staying active on social media also contributes to the sense of connectivity which will undoubtedly increase the senior’s quality of life.
- Safety & Support: In addition to having easier and more immediate access to friends and family, technology offers increased support for the homebound senior. Not only can they join online support groups is desired, they can utilize the advancements in medical alert systems to improved responsiveness in crisis or during medical emergencies. Be sure that if the senior you love has access to a medical alert bracelet or necklace, they know exactly how and when to use it and what to expect when they do. You can set up one-push speed dial for 911 as well as for the emergency contact for the senior. Try marking the buttons with pictures or symbols instead of words, during an emergency it might be easier for a senior to identify an image rather than struggle to read small writing. Families and caregivers can also take advantage of various smart home tools such as surveillance and communication tools allowing them to observe and communicate with their loved one when they are unable to be there. You have probably heard of “NannyCams”, think of these as “GrannyCams,” that will allow you the ability to watch over your loved one from a distance and make sure they are safe and well cared for. These may also be helpful in providing peace of mind if there are concerns about any other individuals coming in and out of the home without regular supervision.
These are just a few ways that technology can help seniors, homebound or otherwise, feel an increased connection with their friends, families, history, and community. The more fulfilling the days, the better the quality of life.
What do you think, time to get Nana a tablet or what?!
What ways can technology continue to improve the life of the senior you love?