Helping Seniors Embrace Technology

Technology, is something we use in our daily life, but when it comes to the aging population the stereotype remains that they avoid technology or are uncomfortable using it. But that stereotype is being challenged. According to the AARP 91 percent of those that are over 50 report using a computer and 94 percent use technology to keep in touch with family and friends. 1 in 7 have a home assistant of some kind, Google Home or Amazon Alexa, and those number are likely to continue to grow.

Your loved one may not want you to buy them a piece of technology because they don’t see a need for it, so how do you get them excited to use a new piece of technology? There are no simple answers as each person’s knowledge and/or comfort level varies. That said here a few things to consider.

Choosing technology for the senior in your life can be as simple as an app or cell phone or as complex as a home assistant and smartwatch. It is important to keep in mind not only the need behind the technology but also the want. If the senior in your life is reluctant to technology, start small and appeal to their heart. While it is understandable that you may want the technology to help you monitor the health and safety of your loved one, they may not. Present technology as way to improve their daily life experience. Consider teaching them how to use Instagram so that they can see new pictures of the family regularly or how to stream their favorite music. If your loved one is already comfortable with some technology basics like Instagram and texting, encourage them to explore video chat. Your regular phone call can now become a virtual visit. Regardless of what you want your loved one to use it for remember to be patient and take the time to show them how to use it; this will help to avoid frustration and ultimately a refusal to use the technology. The key is to ease into it and build slowly.

The type of technology you choose can ensure they maintain a sense of independence. Smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and home assistants can improve your piece of mind and your loved one’s independence. We spend our youth craving independence, a feeling that does not subside as we age, but it can be hard to maintain as we grow older. However, technology like home assistants are making it possible for seniors to maintain their independence longer. Home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexia can stream music, compose shopping list, make calls, and set reminders. But when connected to smart things, they can adjust the thermostat, turn lights on and off, sense window/door opening and closing, and/or act as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS).

Provide help and support when they are learning new technology. Learning anything new can be difficult for anyone but it can be especially difficult for those who are intimidated by technology. There are many ways to help your loved one learn and become comfortable with new technology. You or a caregiver can walk them through how to use it and teach them each piece slowly. Don’t try and show them how to use all the features in one or two days. Take it piece by piece and let them get use to how to do each thing before introducing the next one. Patience is essential. Consider enlisting the help of others either through your faith community, family, friends, or general community. Providing several people for your loved one to reach out to for help with make them less anxious if they experience a problem with the technology. If your loved one is already comfortable with some technology, show them or book mark some YouTube tutorials for them. If you are tech savvy, consider making a personalized tutorial for them on YouTube as sometimes tutorial can go too quickly through several steps. Other options include enrolling them in classes through community organizations or local libraries.

Although technology can be difficult to master, it has shown to decrease the feeling of isolation for many including seniors. When adopting a new piece of technology, the goal should be to improve life. The key to success when asking your loved on to adopt a new piece of technology is to be understanding, patient, provide support, and appeal to their interest and heart.

Technology to look into

Only you can determine what type of technology is needed and will be successful for your loved one’s needs. Below is a list to get you started.

  • GrandPad-Allows seniors to use tablet that may not be familiar with it –if the senior is not tech savvy or reluctant this may be an option.
  • Jitterbug Smartphone– Easy to use large screen smartphone engineered with seniors in mind.
  • Aura Frames– Allows family member to upload new or old photos to the digital frame via apps like google photos.
  • MedMinder-Digital pill dispenser that looks like a regular 7 day model but the compartment remains locked until it is time for medication.
  • Reminder Rosie Clock– Set personal reminder for medications that require voice or touch verification that medication was taken.
  • Tile app– For tracking and finding lost keys or wallets

Apps for Seniors

  • Pillboxie used color coding and simple menus to help older people remember their medication
  • Simple Social-Allows seniors to browse Facebook and Twitter through a cleaner, less cluttered, easier to navigate interface.
  • The Eyes Have it-Magnifying glass with light to make small print easier to read.
  • Lumosity-Activities to keep the brain sharp.
  • Life 360– GPS tracking for the whole family

Other Services

  • GoGoGranparent- Call for a ride from any phone. Use Lyft or Uber without a smartphone.
  • StoryWorth– Sends and email or calls each week- Records the story at the end of the year multiple contributions can combine their stores into a book or album
  • Memory Well– Digital platform for elders to tell their life story.

Sources

https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/technology/info-2019/2019-technology-trends-older-americans.html
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2017/06/24/aging-place-tech-helps-seniors-live-their-home-longer/103113570
https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyblankson/2018/09/07/4-ingenious-technologies-to-help-aging-adults-stay-connected-and-engaged/#6a891c434ab8
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/10/01/cool-technology-trends-for-older-adults/#56bdbd313c9f
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2015/08/28/8-great-apps-for-our-elders/#548e148e3685

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