There seems to be a device for everything nowadays – cars can drive themselves, vacuums clean on their own, dogs get fed automatically and more. As the U.S. population ages and more adults want to age in place, technology organizations are seeing an increased demand for types of technology that older adults can use to their advantage and implement into their daily routines.
Recent trends point to the fact that new technology in the home can help older adults age in place safely and happily. In fact, a new study from U.S. News & World Report 360 found that 93% of American older adults plan to age in place, increasing the need for assistive and health-related technology nationwide.
Whether you or a loved one needs something to help automate tasks or you’re searching for a way to connect to others from the comfort of your home, there are many types of technology that older adults can use to their advantage.
Connect online with social media
Only about 45% of older adults are users of social media, compared to 84% of the younger generations. That said, there is room for many more seniors to use social media platforms as a way to connect with their friends and family members.
For some older adults, especially those who are homebound, aging in place can get lonely as you may not be able to visit friends and family often.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide features such as chat functions, access to people’s photos and life events and groups you can join to get a sense of community. Additionally, there are online forums to get support and advice as well as virtual support groups to help you through life’s different challenges.
Relive old memories with digital photo frames
Lugging around heavy photo albums and sifting through mountains of printed photographs to find a photo of your family is a thing of the past. Nowadays, you can get a digital photo frame that can organize your photos and display them on a daily basis. There are certain albums that let you share photos instantly via email or an app on your smartphone. It is even possible to use a photo scanner to scan in old pictures so they are all stored together and in one place digitally.
Getting a digital photo frame can help you or your loved one keep updated pictures of family and friends on hand. It also allows you to relive memories of your life from wherever in your home.
Use technology to your advantage with task automation
Now is the age of the “smart home,” or living space that is full of wirelessly connected gadgets that do tasks for you. There are many different tasks in the home that can be automated by technology. Devices with task automation are a great example of technology older adults can use to their advantage. It makes your day-to-day just a bit easier. Some examples of things you can do with task automation are:
- Utilizing smart lighting that can be controlled with your phone or voice. Many of these allow you to control the times of the day the lights turn on and off automatically.
- Incorporating voice-activated devices, such as Alexa or Google Home, to help you set timers, make lists, send texts or more so that you don’t have to stop to find a pen and paper.
- Using a robotic vacuum cleaner to prevent you from having to bend over and sweep, or lug around a heavy vacuum.
- Installing a smart thermostat that can be controlled with your phone and knows when to turn up or down the temperature based on outside factors such as the weather or the direction of the sun in the sky.
- Having an internet-controlled smart security system to keep your home safe.
- Investing in an electronic pill dispenser to help manage your medications.
Remote access for caregivers with smart locks
Another feature that is beneficial to older adults is the ability to control your locks and doors with remote access through your phone. This allows you to lock and unlock doors from anywhere in your house or in the world!
Having remote access also makes it easier for home health clinicians or other visitors to enter your home. Imagine not having to walk over and open the door when a loved one visits and being able to let them in via your phone. This is possible with smart locks and doors.
Peace of mind with medical alert systems
What if you or a loved one had a fall and were unable to get up and reach your phone to call for help? Technology has thought that through for you with panic buttons and medical alert systems that you can wear at all times. These alert systems have a button that you can press in case of an emergency. The button calls an emergency response agent who can dispatch the police or emergency responders.
Additionally, many of these panic and medical alert systems come equipped with automatic fall detection. Fall detection systems use a low-power radio wave technology to sense sudden changes in body movement. If a fall is detected, the device can automatically alert an emergency response agent, without even needing to press a button.
Wearable technology can benefit older adults by helping put your mind at ease, knowing you have a way to get help in case of an emergency.
GPS monitoring with wearable technology
In addition to detecting falls, wearable technology can give you the added benefit of GPS tracking. With GPS tracking and monitoring, a tracking system can be worn or clipped to personal items and provide real-time updates to your designated caregiver.
If you stray from your designated location, it sends an alert to your caregiver or loved one so they can prevent you from straying too far. Some devices even have the ability to call your caregiver’s phone. This allows you to speak to them through your tracking device, which can be helpful in case you walked out of the house without your phone.
Worth the new technology learning curve
You don’t have to be a part of the assumption that seniors don’t know how to use technology. Now that you’ve learned that there are a lot of devices and technology that older adults can use to their advantage, you can start incorporating them into you or your loved one’s routine. If any new device seems appealing and like it would help your everyday life, it might be worth trying out.
Remember, everyone has a learning curve when introducing new technology to their lives. Don’t become discouraged if you don’t pick up on how to use something right away. The automation and ease that it can provide might prove itself to be worth it in the end.
At Enhabit our patients are our number one priority. From providing the latest medical practices to building deep personal connections, we’re focused on upholding every patient’s dignity, humanity and sense of control on their health care journey.
Our home health services give patients access to the care they deserve in the comfort of their own homes. From disease and injury management to recovery from surgery, our clinicians help patients confidently achieve their healthcare goals.
Our hospice care services place importance on the comfort of every patient living with a terminal illness. Our caring professionals are dedicated to providing not just physical care, but spiritual and emotional support to every patient and their loved ones.