Though much of it is brand new to them, senior citizens today are using technology more than ever before and the omnipresence of the internet has brought it into all aspects of our lives. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2017 67% of adults over the age of 65 have internet in their homes, and that number jumps to 82% for seniors aged 65-69. Among those using the internet, 71% report using it daily, for everything from keeping in touch with family and friends, to seeking out information, learning new things, keeping track of their health and daily routines and more.
Maintaining a sense of autonomy and dignity is so important as we age and technology can help preserve and foster this independence. For seniors in living situations of all kinds, whether living independently, at home with care, or in a senior living facility, advances in modern technology are making life safer, easier and more fulfilling.
At Chelsea Senior Living, we offer high speed wireless internet throughout our facilities. For those living at home, many internet providers offer deeply discounted rates and packages for seniors. What’s available varies by location, so check with your local provider about an affordable solution for getting connected if you (or your loved one) are not already.
*For less-tech savvy seniors, or those less suited for smart phone or computer use, tablets are a cost-effective way to access and enjoy the resources the Internet provides, from accessing news, participating on social media platforms, streaming videos and music, playing games and more.
Tech Enables Increased Social Connectivity:
Seniors are increasingly becoming active users of Facebook and other social media platforms. Not only do these platforms offer an avenue to connect with family and friends who are unable to visit, but it allows seniors to do so in a much more dynamic way than a phone call.
Social media also offers seniors a way to stay connected to, and involved with, what is happening in contemporary life. It is an effective tool for preventing a feeling of isolation or disconnectedness that can set in in our rapidly changing modern world.
Entertainment and Education at your Fingertips
New technology has revolutionized the way we learn and entertain ourselves.
- Tablets and E-Readers are amazing tools that put a library worth of material at your fingertips. In addition, many come with senior-friendly features like large font size, speech output, keyboard compatibility and hearing aid capability.
- E-book rentals, like those offered on Kindle and Nook devices, are generally pretty cheap, and many public libraries offer free e-book and magazine rentals, helping keep costs down for fixed-income individuals.
- Tablets are not just great for digital access to books and magazines, but also excellent tools for browsing the web, playing games, storing and organizing photos, learning languages, drawing, streaming entertainment like movies and music and other stimulating activities. The importance of mental health and stimulation to overall well-being and longevity is well documented, and devices like tablets offer an exciting, relatively cheap avenue to access this new digital domain for those without or not comfortable on a computer or smartphone.
*Tip: Games played over the internet are an exhilarating way to connect with grandchildren! Many popular games today, like Animal Crossing, can be played together over the internet and offer a fun way for grandparents to have some fun (and stay hip!) with their grandkids.
The Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home are becoming fixtures in households worldwide. These can be incredibly useful for seniors, especially those with decreased mobility. These handy devices are designed to retrieve information, report the weather, find recipes, stream music and all sorts of other things all by voice command.
Apps for Just about Everything
Apps are also growing increasingly popular and there are now apps to assist us in just about every facet of life. These digital programs can be super useful for seniors for a variety of purposes.
There are apps for medical assistance, like Medisafe Pill Reminder that keep track of medication, food delivery apps like Blue Apron that bring fresh ingredients to your doorstep, or transportation apps like Lyft and Uber that provide additional autonomy to seniors who’d like to remain on the go and self-sufficient but are not able to drive or have limited access to transportation. Quite literally, if you can think of it, there is likely an app for it.
Stylish Wearable Technology
Recent years have seen huge advances in wearable technology like Fit Bits or Garmin Vivosmarts. These devices, often worn around the wrist, can track daily movements, vital signs, sleep patterns, blood oxygen levels and other important metrics and are much more stylish and subtle than their counterparts from yesteryear.
Devices like the MobileHelp Smart and Freedom Guardian watches are specifically designed for seniors and offer the aforementioned features as well as location tracking, day-to-day alerts (like for medication), and in some models, emergency contact capability with the press of a button.
It’s a brave new digital world out there. Help the seniors in your life to embrace and make the most of the boundless possibilities that come with it.