Technological advancements have dramatically changed how we live today. And while we often think of technology as the domain of young people, the truth is seniors have plenty to gain from getting in on the action. Here’s a closer look at how technology can help make your life simpler, safer and more satisfying.
Keeping Seniors Connected...
In our increasingly globalized world, families are spread all over the globe. But just because miles may separate you from your loved ones doesn't mean you can't stay connected. Technology is a wonderful way to bridge the gap. Video chatting services like Skype and FaceTime allow you to communicate with far-off loved ones via your laptop or mobile device.
Looking for something even easier to use, however? New devices are engineered with the unique needs of seniors in mind. For example, Android’s GrandPad, a no-frills tablet with intuitive interfaces and large buttons, enables you to make calls just by tapping a picture on the screen, while virtual voice assistants like Alexa will call your loved ones for you at your command. Alexa even has an optional “Drop In” feature which allows family members and friends to instantly check in with each other through their devices.
While they're no substitute for good, old-fashioned togetherness, these technologies represent the next best thing when in-person visits aren't possible.
Safer and More Secure…
Technology also has many benefits when it comes to senior safety. If you've ever turned on the stove, gotten busy with something else, and then forgotten it was on, you're far from alone. The good news? "Smart" devices for the home, such as stove monitors and leak detectors, are designed to alert you to threats ranging from the release of toxic gases in the kitchen to potential overflows in the bathroom. Smart doorbells, smart home security systems, and motion-activated lights are also available, supporting everything from home security to fall prevention.
Another common issue for older adults? Medication management. Enter smart medication pill boxes, which use your choice of audible or visual cues to prompt you to take your medication at a designated time. (These can also be programmed to alert family members and caregivers if medication is not taken as scheduled.)
And while medical alert and personal emergency response systems (PERS) aren’t new, they’ve evolved to deliver greater functionality thanks to features like fall detection, GPS capabilities, and mobile options.
At the same time, innovation is always underway leading to even more possibilities for maintaining the quality of life in your golden years. Take the Dring Smart Cane from French startup company Nov’in, for example. This ingenious invention uses algorithms to proactively identify changes in motion which may indicate the worsening of certain health conditions. Not only does it not need to be paired to another device, but it's also got a supersized battery that enables it to last for weeks without a charge. The result? Enhanced safety for seniors as well as invaluable peace of mind for the people who love them.
And More Convenient, Too
Most of us can agree that aging isn’t exactly easy. However, today’s senior-friendly assistive devices make it easier to live better. Robotic vacuums, keyless entry locks, voice-controlled alarm clocks, and smart thermostats are just a sampling of the breadth and depth of technological tools aimed at helping people live well and independently with hearing or vision impairment, arthritis, mobility issues, and other age-related concerns. An added benefit? Many of these devices can be monitored and/or managed remotely by your children (or grandchildren!) if you need a helping hand.
Of course, not all of these technologies are life-changing. Some are focused on making life more comfortable, including products like “smart” mugs and stay-cool pillows.
Aging-in-place technology analyst Laurie Orlov told The Senior List, “We've entered into the era of low-cost, miniaturized, technological capabilities that enable smarter caregiving and greater independence.” But technology is just one of the things improving the lives of seniors. Also making a difference? Unprecedented senior living options, including Hyde Park’s premier senior living community, Episcopal Retirement Services’ Deupree House.