For most of us, technology is ingrained into our everyday lives, from our cell phones and cars to toothbrushes and watches. In general, older adults have been slower to integrate and adopt new technologies. However, that’s beginning to change. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, only 14% of seniors aged 65 and above had Internet in their homes 20 years ago. Now, that number has increased by 67%. Of those who have the Internet, nearly 71% use it every day. As the number of older adults who use technology continues to rise, senior-specific devices have also increased.
IoT devices, or “The Internet of Things,” refers to any device that can connect to the Internet to send and receive data. IoT devices are everywhere—in our homes, cars, and even on our wrists. Not only are these devices convenient and easy to use, but they also can allow older adults to stay independent for longer.
Benefits of IoT for Seniors
Technology can seem intimidating at first, especially for some older adults. However, there are several ways technology can help seniors live longer, healthier lives. Here are just a few of the reasons seniors have chosen to integrate technology into their daily lives.
As we get older, everyday tasks can become a burden. Taking care of our homes and cooking meals become responsibilities that take a lot of energy. Instead of relying on family members for help, many seniors are relying on technology to help bridge the gap. Instead of going to the store, smartphones can do the shopping for you. Remembering appointments and birthdays can become more difficult with age but smart home devices can be programmed to remind you of special occasions.
The biggest concern many family members have for their loved ones is safety. As we age, we become more at risk of falling, cognitive decline, and illness. Thankfully, technological devices can monitor these safety concerns and offer peace of mind to family members and caregivers.
Smart devices also have the capability of making homes safer, especially for older adults who live alone. Home security cameras now can connect to cell phones, allowing homeowners to monitor their safety. Smart locks, security systems, and smoke alarms add a layer of security.
Some older adults rely on IoT devices and sensors in the event of a fall or injury. Many wearable devices can dispatch emergency services or contact a family member in times of distress or physical injury.
One of the most innovative ways IoT has influenced seniors is through devices specifically designed to monitor health and wellness. From medication management to controlling diabetes and heart disease, smart devices allow older adults to manage their conditions, while also avoiding emergency room and hospital visits.
Technology and Healthcare
With nearly 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the demand for healthcare providers will increase each year. Many older adults are looking to technology to bridge this gap. Here are a few of the most common conditions that can be regulated and censored through the use of technology:
• Medication Management. Apps and Bluetooth pill dispensers help older adults stay on track with their medication without relying on friends, family members, or healthcare providers. Many smartphone apps also can order medications automatically, which minimizes the risk of ever running out.
• Telemedicine. Now older adults can see their healthcare provider from the comfort of their own homes. Using video conferencing platforms allows both the provider and patient to see each other, minimizing the risk of contracting illnesses.
• Diabetes. Technological advances make controlling diabetes efficient and simple. Some sensors, like the smart sock, help track temperature, and identify inflammation before they worsen.
• High Blood Pressure. Smartwatches and bands can track blood pressure and send an alert when levels become too high.
• Arthritis. When arthritis worsens, daily tasks can become difficult. Devices that help with writing, opening and closing doors, smart lighting, and thermostats allow those with arthritis to keep their independence.
Senior Friendly Technology
The New York Times and Tech For Aging conducted extensive research on a wide variety of smart devices available to seniors. Here are some of the best products they found, ranging from wearable devices and sensors to security systems and automatic lighting.
In the Home
Our homes should be the place where we feel safest and most comfortable. Smart devices such as the Google Nest Protect is a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that sends warning signals by voice and also sends alerts to up to six contacts. It also has a built-in night light to reduce the risk of falling.
The Amazon Echo Dot is an affordable voice control device that can provide in-home entertainment like playing music and games, while also providing security features like the ability to make calls to loved ones.
For those looking for a smart system that can monitor the entire home, Sense is a great option. This monitoring system connects to an electric panel and tracks energy usage. If a person uses certain devices every day, Sense can be programmed to alert caregivers and family members if the device does not get used, allowing them to call and check-in on their loved one.
The most comprehensive wearable device, as reported by Tech for Aging, is the Apple Watch Series 5. This watch can detect falls and includes an ECG/EKG monitor with atrial fibrillation detection. Besides, this watch tracks fitness activity and heart rate.
To Aid with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Some of the most exciting technology has been designed to help those living with memory-related conditions like Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. New GPS shoe inserts allow caregivers to track their loved ones, especially if they tend to wander.
The Alzheimer Master, an app designed for Android devices, allows family members to record their voices for their loved ones. Familiar voices can be used to remind a loved one to take their medication and turn off the lights.
Utilizing Technology at Maplewood Senior Living
Our communities at Maplewood Senior Living are adapted to work with various technologies, from wearable devices to automatic lighting. Technology allows our residents to age gracefully and stay independent longer. During the pandemic, this has been particularly helpful for keeping our residents engaged with families. Our teams assist residents with their devices while making sure the newest technologies are available in each community. While all these devices can certainly be helpful for those living alone, sometimes that is not enough.
Maplewood Senior Living is here for you and your family if you feel living within a community may be better suited for you. To learn more about these special offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.