If you’re a senior, a caregiver to a senior, or both, you may think technology is not for you. You’re reading this online, and you probably have at least one internet-connected device, but are you taking full advantage of everything technology has to offer?
Today’s seniors have resources like never before in history. Technological advances can keep seniors connected, safe, and engaged. As we celebrate Older American’s Month and National Skilled Nursing Care Week starting next Sunday, let’s talk technology. Whether your loved one lives alone or in a nursing home, here’s what technology can do:
If you have a smartphone, there are many apps that can help you track your medication. You input your medicine regimen, and the app sends you reminders when it’s time to take each pill. Top-rated app Pill Reminder by Medisafe, for example, alerts you when you need to take your meds. They even send you a picture of the specific pill you need to take, along with any other information, such as “take with food.” If you’re the caregiver or concerned family member, you can program the app to also notify you when it’s medicine time.
Don’t have a smartphone? Technology can still help with medication tracking. There are many different automatic pill dispensers available. You can set them to sound an alarm when it’s time to take your medicine, and they are programmed to dispense the exact number of pills you need.
The days of bulky, conspicuous hearing aids are over. Hearing-aid technology keeps improving. You can now get a discreet device that goes right in the ear. Sound quality is also more advanced, and some devices even use Bluetooth for wireless transmission.
Stay in touch with loved ones
It’s never been easier to stay connected to far-away loved ones. Skype is one messaging software that’s easy to learn how to use. You can access Skype via a regular computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. Skype is a great way for seniors to chat with far flung family. They can be introduced to new family members, and keep in touch with their grandchildren.
Telemedicine has made great strides over the past few years, and it’s only growing. Park Crescent is a proud participant in the telemedicine revolution, and we’ve seen much success with it. Telemedicine has many facets to it, but the main benefit is that physicians can be virtually on call around the clock. It’s been proven to reduce re-hospitalization of seniors, and reduces medical costs to patients. Some doctors offices also offer online health portals where you can view all your test results, appointment history, and prescriptions in one place.
Monitor your home
Particularly beneficial for seniors living alone, home monitoring systems can be lifesavers. These devices employ sophisticated sensors that detect if the resident has fallen or become injured. There are many different types of monitoring system you can employ to keep your loved one safe.
Keep your brain sharp
Using a tablet or other handheld device, seniors can play word games, memory games, and mind puzzles. There’s some evidence that these games keep your brain sharp and lower your chances of dementia. Such games can also keep seniors active and engaged in the world around them. Plus, electronic games that require a lot of finger movement can help seniors improve their dexterity and fine motor skills.
Get digital assistance
Digital, voice-activated assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri aren’t only for lazy people. They’re excellent for seniors who may have a harder time pressing buttons or using devices. Seniors can use Alexa for searching the web; calling relatives, friends, or caregivers; streaming music; or listening to the news.
What’s next for senior technology?
Seniors in their 80s and above may have a hard time adapting to technologies like digital assistants or video chat, but younger seniors are using the internet more and more. A Pew report released last year found 42% of Americans aged 65 and older owned a smartphone. In 2013, just 18% of people in the same age group had one.
As technology becomes more advanced, and more common among the aging population, we’ll see ever greater independence and engagement from our seniors.