The Best Technology for Seniors

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.

Convenience

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.

Safety

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.

Home security

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.

Emergency services

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.

Healthcare

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.

For the Body
Wearable devices have many different capabilities. From monitoring heart conditions to tracking sleep patterns, older adults now can take control of their health.

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.

Technology and Dementia

An adult child caregiver helping a loved one with

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is an overall term for diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that can affect a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks. Of the 5 million individuals diagnosed with age-related dementia’s in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 80% of these cases. As dementia progresses, it can cause patients to lose some of their independence and rely on caregivers to help them complete daily tasks like bathing, eating, and getting dressed. The Alzheimer’s Association reported that nearly 48% of all caregivers in the United States provide care to someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Because many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients rely heavily on caregivers, it can cause a loss of independence and autonomy. However, in recent years, new technology has allowed those diagnosed with memory disorders to feel independent for longer.

Benefits of Technology to Help Alzheimer’s Patients

Assistive technology is a term often used to refer to items, devices or technological systems used by individuals to make daily living a little easier. There a number of assistive technology devices designed specifically for those with memory diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While these technologies won’t completely eliminate the need for caregiving support, they can promote feelings of independence. Here are a few ways assistive technology can be beneficial for those with cognitive diseases, especially a form of dementia:
Safety
Some assistive technology devices are designed specifically to keep people safe. Items like motion sensors and automatic lights can be installed to decrease the risks of falls or related injuries. Devices such as medical alert pendants and smart home devices can be programmed to contact emergency services when they are needed.

Everyday Living

Other technologies are designed to help complete basic daily tasks like remembering when to take your medicine, automated curtain controls, robot vacuums, and touch censored toilets and sinks. As dementia progresses, it can affect a person’s range of motion, making it difficult to bend fingers and hands. Devices designed towards everyday living allow a person to complete tasks in a different way.

Location Monitoring
In some cases, dementia patients can often become wander risks. This can quickly become a scary situation for both the patient and the caregiver. Some assistive technology devices such as door and exit sensors can immediately alert family members or caregivers when a loved one has left.

Communication
As dementia progresses, communication can become difficult. Some technologies provide innovative ways to communicate with healthcare providers, family members, and friends to encourage socialization, while also receiving timely answers to medical questions.

Technology and Dementia: Available Types

Whether you’re a caregiver supporting someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or if you have been diagnosed with a memory disease, there are many assistive devices that can help complete daily tasks. Here are a few devices you might find helpful:
Calendar Apps can be helpful for both the caregiver and the person receiving support. Apps such as Google Calendar can be set up to give reminders for appointments or tracking medication schedules.
Video calling services such as Skype and FaceTime can help those living with dementia feel more connected with their families, especially if they live far away.
Voice-activated assistants can provide entertainment, reminders, and safety alerts. These devices offered by Amazon and Google can play music, read audiobooks, tell jokes, and even be set up to control the lights in your house. These devices can be programmed to call emergency services in the event of a fall, injury, or other medical situations.
Adapted Telephones are programmed with important numbers of family and friends to eliminate the pressure of remembering them for those with dementia. Some phones even give the option of programming a picture of a loved one to correspond with their telephone numbers.
Automated pill dispensers are relatively inexpensive and can be easily programmed to make a signal when it’s time to take medication. This can be helpful especially as the disease progresses and memory gets worse.
A dementia-friendly music player is another device to consider especially if your loved one enjoys listening to music. Many studies have shown that listening to calming music can have a positive effect on dementia patients. Some speakers can be programmed to play certain songs for a specified amount of time. The large buttons make it easy to control the volume.

Technology and Dementia: iPad Apps for Alzheimer’s Patients

In addition to assistive technology devices, the iPad has shown to help those diagnosed with dementia improve their cognitive and communication skills. Because of its user-friendly and lightweight design, the iPad can be used easily by dementia patients. Here are some apps that were created specifically for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Labyrinth 2 HD– This app is designed to help those with dementia strengthen their cognitive skills by working to navigate mazes, which can be made more or less challenging by changing the level.
MindMate– Designed specifically to strengthen the mind, this app provides games and mental exercises that help enhance problem-solving skills, speed, memory, and attention. There are also exercise and nutrition lessons available on the platform.
Peak-Brain Training– Developed by neuroscientists, this app offers over 40 games designed to challenge cognitive skills while also encouraging creativity and mental agility. In addition to a wide variety of games, the app also provides a personal trainer for the brain called, “Coach.” Coach tracks progress and also provides suggestions for improvement.

Finding Additional Support at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important it is to exercise the brain, especially for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why we provide residents the opportunity to learn new iPad games and programs to help improve and maintain their cognitive skills. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please feel free to contact us.