Everyone is familiar with the stereotype of the technologically inept elderly. They paw at an Ipad and squint at the screen in confusion, unsure of what to do. We’ve also heard stories of how lonely seniors want desperately to get in contact with their families and friends through technology, but they struggle to understand how these devices operate. Many seniors have time on their hands that they wish could be used to spend on family and friends. While these stories are all too familiar, there are several ways in which we can help seniors make the most of technology to reconnect with family and friends.
Senior Technology Trends
Historically, seniors are usually the last group to adopt to a new technology. However, nowadays the generational divide seems to be closing when it comes to using the latest gadgets and tech upgrades. According to a recent Pew Research Report, 6 in 10 seniors now browse the internet, with 50% using broadband. Once seniors begin using the internet, the odds of them continuing to use it grow.
In fact, 71% of seniors who use the internet go online every day or almost every day. According to this same research report, 27% of seniors also own a tablet while 18% own a smartphone. Additionally, 81% of seniors who use social networking say that they use it to talk with friends or family on a daily basis. Seniors who socialize online are also more likely to socialize in person and may have a longer lifespan/better quality of life than their less social peers.
Bringing Technology to Senior Living Residents
Technology is important for senior life, because it helps those within senior living communities to continue living rich, and social lives, as well as to keep up with family members who may not be able to visit them. Once you reach a certain age, communication becomes more difficult to achieve with family members and friends. Fortunately, leveraging technology can allow seniors to reach those they may have been unable to talk with otherwise.
Technology is also a way to open senior’s lives to new experiences. Technologies such as iPad's, smartphones, and Apple TV’s are all designed with user experience and accessibility first in mind. Some senior living communities may even give courses on teaching seniors how to engage with these technologies. Seniors can learn to access applications, play games, communicate with contacts, and more. Research shows that keeping senior minds engaged with these technologies could help strengthen cognitive function and enhance longevity.
Technology for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care
Some communities offering memory care services use programs and applications that help residents stay cognitively in tune and stimulated with games, memory activities, and remembrance programs. These applications used in memory care rely on touch-screen design and feature picture based prompts that help lessen the divide between seniors and technology.
It may seem like seniors would not be interested in practicing memory games or learning how to operate new technologies, but the wealth of free time available to many senior living residents means that they will welcome anything that occupies their interest. So if seniors are interested, what else is keeping them from accessing and utilizing these technologies? Well for one, it could be that physical limitations are making access to these technologies impossible. According to a Pew Research Center report, two in five seniors have a physical health condition that makes reading difficult. This makes operating touch screens and smartphones difficult, as it calls for seniors to focus on reading small text on a brightly lit screen, which could strain their eyes.
Learning to Adopt New Technologies
77% of seniors say that they need help in learning how to operate new technologies such as smartphones and tablets. 56% if seniors who go online and who haven’t used a social networking site also say that they would want to receive training in how to use these sites. The more the world moves online, the more vital it is for seniors to become acquainted with topics such as social media, email, and Microsoft Office.
Seniors who learn how to operate these technologies will be thrilled to be able to keep up with their families social lives and get in contact whenever they need to reach them. It also gives them a sense of purpose and connection to know that they have figured out how to use technology without having to resort to asking family members or facility staff.
Technology can also be useful for helping seniors get help with the push of a button. Studies show that many seniors want to live at home, but living alone carries many risks. Luckily, there have been technological advancements that make it safer. An Emergency Response System (PERS) is a device that allows the wearer to call for help with the push of a button. Seniors and family members can rest easy knowing that if something like a break-in or a bad fall occur, help is no further away than the push of a button.
Some seniors have difficulty keeping track of the medications they need to take and how often they should be taking it. According to one 2009 survey , more than half of seniors say they take at least five different prescription drugs regularly, with 25% saying they took between 10 and 19 pills per day. Pill boxes may be useful, but technology allows seniors to receive push notifications and alerts so that even if they forget to check, there is still something reminding them to take medication.
At Landmark Senior Living, our goal is to create the utmost in independent living for every one of our senior housing residents. Our independent living program is tailored to each individual’s needs and includes robust daily exercise, yoga, & strength training classes available for seniors. Our broad range of activities and events will help you to take care of your mental and physical health.