Seniors—a generation that’s seen telephones become palm-sized devices and computers go from filling a room to fitting in a pouch—are using today’s technology in many ways, from staying in touch with loved ones to managing their health.
Smartphone ownership has risen among older adults ages 65 and up; today, about half who own cellphones have some type of smartphone, up from 23% in 2013. Internet use among older adults has risen to nearly 70%; and e-readers and tablets, and the use of social media, are also growing in popularity among seniors.
Here’s a look at how some technology is benefiting elders.
For seniors who take several prescription medications a day, it can be challenging to keep track of medications. One way in which technology helps is with smartphone apps and wearables for medication management and health tracking. Reminders and alerts are available, and these apps can also help prevent medication errors. And, we are all aware of the emergency alert systems that summon assistance in our buildings at the push of a button on one’s pendant. There are also other devices are available to monitor heart health, activity, and location to keep users safe.
Voice-activated devices and smart homes are also helping keep older adults safe, especially as mobility issues arise. These devices can turn lights on and off and adjust thermostats; in private homes, they can also turn the lawn sprinklers on and off.
Staying socially active is as important as being mentally or physically active as we age. The emergence of Skype and similar video and audio chat programs are helping seniors stay in touch with family member across the country and around the world. Social media adoption is rising as grandparents want to stay abreast of their grandchildren’s accomplishments and enjoy photos of friends and family.
There are a few social media networks specifically for seniors. The stated goal of Stitch is to help seniors find peers with similar interests. Those seeking a roommate can go on the Gold Girls Network, and video-based virtual senior centers are available.
Active minds and bodies
Computer games help keep older minds agile. Of course, in our JCHC communities, there are many activities already programmed into each week, and for those who enjoy some screen time, there are many games one can play alone or with other online participants, such as jigsaw puzzles, mahjong or Scrabble.
JCHC residents enjoy weekly exercise classes but there’s always room for some additional physical activity revolving around technology. For those with grandchildren who own video game systems like Wii or PlayStation, a visit with family could include a fun round of virtual tennis, bowling, golf, and other ways to stay physically active.
Residents in all our JCHC senior living communities have access to computers in the libraries or computer rooms, where they enjoy using It’s Never2Late, a computer program designed specifically for older adults. Residents can browse the internet, send and receive email, play computer games, use Facebook, explore distant lands, and more.
Whether living in their private homes or in a senior living community, there are many opportunities for seniors to enjoy and benefit from technology. A quick internet search will yield many results for devices and programs to keep older adults engaged, socializing and safe.