Technology Helping Seniors Stay Independent
Jan 01, 2018 02:03PM
By Clare Heekin Lynch
Today, more than 50 million Americans are over the age of 65, and 10,000 more reach that age every day. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this number will jump to 72 million seniors by 2030.
Luckily, advances in technology promise to make life better for the older generation, enabling them to live full lives longer.
Many seniors want to keep up with the changing times and feel more connected with their grandchildren. With the goal of empowering the older generation through the use of technology, companies and entrepreneurs are jumping at the chance to create new tools to keep this population up with the times.
The app market, for example, is flooded with games and social media programs for older adults. Some of the top innovative apps include:
• HeartWise Blood Pressure Tracker: Easily records users’ blood pressure, resting heart rate and weight to track on a daily basis and over time.
• Pillboxie: Reminds users to take medications at the scheduled times they set.
• Silver Surf: Permits users with less than perfect eyesight to zoom in, set higher contrast, and display larger buttons for easier use.
• Voice Reading: Reads text aloud from the Internet, emails, messages and even text files.
• Park ‘n’ Forget: Helps users remember where they parked their cars.
• Yesterday USA: An internet radio app that broadcasts “old-time” radio shows all day, every day.
• Easy Facebook for Seniors: A cleaner, less-cluttered version of the classic Facebook app.
One of the biggest dangers facing many seniors is loneliness. Connecting with other seniors online is a good way to start new friendships as old ones start to fade or loved ones pass away.
Stitch.com is currently the main social media network that specifically targets seniors. The platform’s stated goal is to help seniors “find companions,” with an emphasis on finding other seniors with similar interests.
SeniorAdvisor.com also suggests The Gold Girls Network, which matches seniors with other seniors who need roommates so they don’t have to age in place alone. And virtual senior centers are popping up to provide one more online space where the older generation can make connections with other seniors.
Technologies that younger adults see as fun and convenient gadgets are also becoming increasingly vital for older adults who want to remain active and independent while staying secure in their own homes. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own houses as they age, even if they begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care during their retirement years.
As “aging in place” carries risks of its own, technology has been created that can help prevent life-changing injuries caused by falls. While there is the well-known “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” personal emergency response system idea pioneered by Life Alert, the concept has transformed and advanced to wearable activity-based sensors.
With Alarm.com’s wellness independent living solution, remote family members can rest reassured that their loved one is up and moving about, going about their day. The discreet device can detect if a senior hasn’t left their bedroom at the usual time or if the fridge door or medicine cabinet hasn’t been opened in a few hours. If so, the caregiver or emergency response service is alerted.
Another monitoring system, TruSense, is a discreet, in-home system of sensors that is connected to the home’s Wifi and gives insight into wellness trends that may suggest that further attention is needed. TruSense can also report on how much time caregivers or other visitors spend in the home while also monitoring for safe home temperatures or dangerous water leaks, among other alerts. Also, should a senior be experiencing the early stages of dementia and have a tendency to get lost or wander, the device can detect that person’s location.
The e-Pill MedTime Station is another handy device for those living on their own. With this device, seniors will hear an alarm and see a flashing light when it is time to take medication. It has an easy-to-use handle for those with dexterity issues and the lockable automatic pill dispenser can dispense medication up to six times per day. More advanced models include an LCD screen which shows the date, time, and next dose scheduled, and can dispense medicine up to 24 times per day.
It’s safe to say that smart-home and voice-activated technologies will continue to evolve and integrate into our home and lives more easily. Retail giant Best Buy has even created a special unit, called Assured Living, to evaluate how smart-home technologies can be useful for seniors or their adult children who are looking for ways to assist and monitor their aging parents. So while technology can’t make injuries and safety concerns go away entirely, it can help reduce them.
It just goes to show that you’re never too old to join the digital revolution!