People typically associate technological innovations with younger generations such as Millennial’s. However, little thought is given to how technology can improve the quality of life for the aging population. Despite this, many senior citizens use technology.
48 million individuals over the age of 65 live in the United States. Half of this group owns a desktop or laptop, a third of this population uses tablets and 80-percent of seniors use smartphones. Many people mistakenly think that the senior population struggles to use technology and new innovations. Yet, 60-percent of the aging population uses the Internet daily, and 80-percent of the group uses social media to connect with friends and family members.
Technology helps the senior population remain self-sufficient and independent. Voice control technology, for example, makes it easier for seniors to find information and entertainment online. In fact, today’s nurses help seniors by teaching them how to use computers and smart devices. These professionals recognize the needs of the elderly population and make a significant and positive impact on their lives. Additionally, most major metropolitan cities offer free computer classes, and long-term care facilities, senior centers and community groups also provide free computer literacy courses. By participating in learning groups, seniors reduce the likelihood that they will fall victim to scams and financial fraud.
Improved Technology for the Aging Population
The digital divide between mainstream society and the senior population is closing, but it still exists. However, innovative technologies are helping seniors reduce feelings of isolation, maintain brain activity and monitor their own health. In some cases, seniors are using technology to explore new careers. More devices designed for seniors are slowly entering the market. These units have larger screens and buttons and are growing in popularity among older generations. One such device, the grandPad, is available for only $200.
Advanced technologies can help seniors with activities of daily living (ADL) as well as emergencies. Typical mobile devices have complex menus and small screens. However, devices that are designed specifically for seniors feature brighter screens and larger buttons and make it easier for the group to make calls, write emails and text messages or reach out for help in an emergency. As time goes on, more seniors are learning their way around the digital universe, and more apps and devices designed for the aging population are emerging in the marketplace.
Using Technology to Improve Health Outcomes for Seniors
Technology is making it easier for seniors to access needed services. With 80-percent of seniors diagnosed with one or more chronic condition, new technologies have allowed the group to improve their overall health and fitness. In 2015, investors poured $6 billion into health care startups. More than 60-percent of those firms developed health care technology designed for people above the age of 50 years old. The devices and applications developed by these enterprises help seniors maintain and monitor their health, manage chronic conditions and lead healthier lives.
Accessible technologies benefit the senior population greatly. Today’s seniors have access to innovations such a smart pill boxes and medical devices that continually track health conditions and send out medical alerts when needed. Other devices detect falls and can call for help in real time. Resources such as smart thermostats, motion detectors and emergency response systems help seniors remain comfortable in their homes. These innovative technologies help seniors enjoy increased safety and independence.
Improving the Quality of Life for Seniors
Today’s seniors are enjoying extended lifespans. However, one in five over the age of 80 are diagnosed with dementia, one in four are diagnosed with vision loss and one and five have hearing problems. Physicians diagnose many seniors over the age of 90 with one disability and many multiple conditions.
Most seniors prefer to age in place, rather than spend their remaining days in a long-term care facility. Today’s smart homes can monitor sleep habits and food consumption as well as turn off appliances that might present a potential safety hazard. The most advanced technologies designed for seniors use complex algorithms to monitor daily activities. However, most seniors start out experimenting with basic technology such as wearable devices and basic in-home sensors.
The latest innovations are helping seniors gain peace of mind, and new technologies could potentially improve the last stage of life for everybody. Ironically, the technologies that are helping the senior population the most are designed for younger generations. Today, smart homes and on-demand services are making life easier, safer and more convenient for the aging population.