Seniors sometimes feel intimidated by technology. And that’s not surprising—they’ve seen a lot of technological changes over the years. A couple of decades ago, things like resetting a clock or recording a TV show required a complex series of steps. But today’s touchscreen and voice-activated commands make it a lot easier to use technology. And technology can make it easier for older adults to age in place and stay safe at home.
“Most seniors can be reluctant to try new things due to the fear of the unknown. With the advancement of technology, most of the tech out there is user-friendly. So, seniors are likely to learn it quickly,” said Mayra Mendez-Schiaffino, an occupational therapist and rehabilitation supervisor for Banner Home Care and Hospice.
Here are some ways technology can make it easier for seniors to live independently.
1. Overcoming vision problems
Technology can help seniors with low vision. Simple hand-held or stand magnifiers are useful for reading, writing and other daily activities such as grocery shopping. Portable magnifiers can adjust to light levels and scan QR codes so seniors can identify food labels. These devices can also store lists of preferred foods and items. There are also magnifier apps that can be added to your smartphone.
2. Taking medication
Smart memory pill boxes with medication reminders dispense medication at the right days and times, so seniors don’t have to worry about remembering to take their medication or keeping track of it. If using an iPhone or Apple Watch, a recent update now allows medications to be managed and tracked via the Health app.
3. Ordering food
Seniors can use grocery delivery services like Instacart or meal prep services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron to eliminate the need to travel to the grocery store and to handle some food preparation processes. Services like GrubHub, DoorDash and Uber Eats can bring prepared food to the door.
4. Monitoring the front door
With smart doorbells such as Ring or Nest, seniors can communicate via intercom and camera with someone at the door. “Seniors with mobility issues can greatly benefit from this—it eliminates unnecessary walking that could lead to falling,” Mendez-Schiaffino said.
5. Tracking fitness and health
With fitness trackers such as Fitbits or the Apple Watch, seniors can monitor their water and food intake, measure how many steps they take, see how much they are sleeping and track certain vital signs. “With education on tracking these devices from a smartphone, these can be useful gadgets for seniors,” Mendez-Schiaffino said.
6. Connecting with entertainment
Technology can connect seniors with countless fun activities. Some fitness trackers can pair with services to provide unlimited music. Services like Roku and Netflix offer movies and TV shows. And seniors can play brain games like Sudoku or crossword puzzles online or with apps.
7. Offering interaction
Technology can even provide companionship. “One of my favorite entertainment options is robotic pets,” Mendez-Schiaffino said. “They interact with their owners like regular pets do. They soothe elders and can substitute for pets for those that cannot have pets anymore.”
8. Controlling home features
Smart home technology can control lighting, window shades, temperature, security cameras, major appliances and more. Seniors can manage everything through their smartphones. For homes that don’t have this technology, seniors can add what they need based on their health and activity level. For example, seniors with mobility issues may want to open and close windows and curtains remotely.
9. Sharing medical information
Depending on health conditions, seniors may be able to send vital signs or report issues with medication or nutrition to their doctors with an app. “Telemedicine has become a great option for access to care,” Mendez-Schiaffino said.
10. Connecting with loved ones
Seniors can use devices like Amazon Echo to video chat with family and friends so that they can see each other remotely. They can also set up smart photo frames that display an assortment of photos of loved ones. Family members can send photos to these frames remotely.
The bottom line
Technology can seem intimidating, but many technological products and solutions can make it easier and safer for seniors to live independently. “I encourage them to give technology a try. There is so much available to them if they are willing to try it,” Mendez-Schiaffino said. To connect with a health care professional who can provide more tips for healthy aging, reach out to Banner Health.
Other useful articles
- Aging in Place: How to Get Your House Ready
- Tips to Stay Safe on the Road as You Get Older
- How Smart Home Design Boosts Comfort for People with Dementia
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