With 10,000 individuals turning 65 each day, economists and researchers have coined this phenomenon the “silver tsunami.” With this wave of individuals entering into retirement, experts predict our economy will be affected in several ways, especially in our healthcare system and the senior living industry. As we age, it’s common to have to manage one or more chronic conditions, potentially overwhelming the accessibility to senior healthcare resources. To help bridge this gap between supply and demand, many older adults are following technology trends that allow them to manage their health conditions and stay independent for longer.
Today’s seniors are more comfortable with technology. Meanwhile, “smart” products are becoming more user-friendly. Today, voice activation technology, GPS, Bluetooth, cellular connectivity via mobile phones, smartphone monitoring apps, and sophisticated computers all contribute to the technology trend of conveniently connecting seniors to their families, care providers, and vendors of life’s necessities. Food, clothing, transportation, and just about anything else can be procured with a few clicks or with a verbal order to a smart speaker.
Benefits of Technology for Seniors
More than ever, tech trends are changing the way we interact with our health, maintain relationships and engage with the world around us. While keeping up with evolving technology can seem difficult, especially as we age, research shows tech for seniors is more common than ever, and older adults are eager to engage with the newest products. In addition to helping adults stay independent for longer, using technology has many health benefits.
Older adults are at an increased risk of loneliness and social isolation. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that more than one-fourth of adults age 65 and older are socially isolated. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention suggests that long-term social isolation can significantly increase a person’s risk of premature death, dementia, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Many older adults are looking to technology to help combat social isolation and prevent its serious long-term effects. A study conducted by The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that “using the internet is associated with lower depression and loneliness and higher levels of social support, life satisfaction, purpose in life, and social capital.” In this same study, seniors reported using technology to prevent feelings of loneliness and found that using the internet decreased feelings of social isolation and promoted connection.
Today, it’s easy to communicate through modern technology. Tablets and smartphones allow us to see and talk to others while making them accessible for older adults with low vision or hearing loss.
It’s normal for families to worry about the safety of their older loved ones, especially if they live far away. Technology has helped ease this concern by providing security features such as monitoring a person’s movement, sleep, location, and care patterns. Some devices can even send an alert to emergency medical professionals with the push of a button.
Technology trends always lead toward new entertainment options. Today, some of these options are specifically designed for older adults. Smart devices can provide online exercise classes, games, movies, and experiences that allow older adults to engage with others in the comfort of their own homes. Smart devices can also enhance traditional hobbies by making them more accessible to those with specific health needs. For example, those with low vision can enlarge the font when reading a book on a tablet, and those with hearing loss can connect their devices to their hearing aids, making it easier to talk on the phone or listen to a podcast.
Exercise and health tracking
Maintaining your physical health is important at any age, but especially for older adults. Senior health tracking tools and apps can help track important health information such as level of activity, medication schedules, medical history, health conditions, and important numbers. Devices can also be used to help promote daily exercise by counting steps and sending reminders when it’s time to move.
A Few Recommended Tech Products for Seniors
Technology is constantly evolving to meet the needs of seniors, their families, and caregivers. Smart devices can help manage the everyday needs of seniors such as entertainment, socialization, and medical attention. Here are a few of the latest tech trends for older adults. As evidence of their benefits, some of the products below are used throughout Maplewood Senior Living communities:
Alexa Care Hub. By now we’re all familiar with Amazon’s Alexa, a virtual assistant AI technology that responds to voice commands. Alexa can be used to manage your calendar, connect to your phone, control your light switches, and even play games. But now, Alexa can also keep you connected to those who keep you safe. According to Business Insider, the Care Hub is a feature available in all Alexa-enabled devices that lets family members and caregivers stay in contact with anyone who needs extra care and monitoring. By using the Care Hub, alerts can be sent to a caregiver or family member’s phone to notify when a loved one has used their Alexa or if they’ve been absent for long periods of time. This feature also allows an individual to “call for help,” by notifying an emergency contact.
Rendever Virtual Reality. Rendever is overcoming social isolation through the power of virtual reality and shared experiences. Virtual reality, which has gained traction with older adults, has been used within senior living communities to increase social engagement, improve medical care, and provide risk-free adventure and stimulation for seniors. Virtual reality provides the opportunity to revisit the past, explore new places, and connect with others through specially curated experiences that use sight and sound to engage the mind.
Eversound. Eversound wireless technology is designed to help those with hearing loss connect with those around them more easily. Headphones are connected to an audio source to break down communication barriers, enhance group communication, and better connect with those around them. Retirement communities, like those in the Maplewood Senior Living family, utilize this technology to enhance resident tours and group programs such as book clubs and exercise classes.
Temi Robot. The pinnacle of personal assistance? Some experts suggest assistive robots will be the next tech trend for seniors. The Temi robot, for example, is designed with older adults in mind. This self-perambulating companion can help with medication reminders, calendar-keeping, alerting medical professionals in case of an emergency, displaying telehealth appointments, and playing interactive videos. It’s pricey today, but who knows — one day we might all have a personal robot to help us manage our lives.
Utilizing the Power of Technology at Maplewood Senior Living
At Maplewood Senior Living, technology is one component we use to provide seniors with a high quality of life. By vetting and appropriately embracing the most beneficial tech products, residents at every level of living more fully enjoy a life of wellness, social happiness, and safety. It’s good for residents and their families. To learn more about living well in a Maplewood Senior Living community, contact us here.