Technology is becoming more and more entrenched in American life. While older adults have been slower to adopt new technologies, evidence has shown that once they integrate them into their lives, older adults view them as essential resources that positively impact their daily lives.
As with all changes, new technology can be a little scary. Once embraced, however, it can help older people stay connected and overcome some of the limitations that come with age.
Here are some ways that technology for older adults can increase the quality of life for you and your loved ones.
1) Communicating with friends and families
This is the top reason older adults go online. Many use Skype or FaceTime, which are applications which allow you to see the person you are talking with. Skype is available for computers, tablets, and other mobile devices. FaceTime is an Apple product that can only be used on iOS devices such as an iPhone or iPad. Bringing the visual component into conversations can make it much more engaging and meaningful.
Since emails and the internet were a new concept for my mom, she had a hard time grasping the concept of using emails to communicate with her family. My family was able to find a great solution for her. My sister purchased a Presto machine for her which allowed our family to send her emails without using a computer. We could send her an email, photo or other document to the Presto-provided email address. The messages and photo would be transformed into printable, full color e-letters. It was easy and required no work or computer knowledge on her part. This ended up being something she really enjoyed as she received communications from her five children and 23 grandchildren.
A new device, grandPad tablet, is great for those who are internet holdouts or have little or no computer experience. It’s a subscription based service ($60 per month) that allows you to make phone calls and video calls, send voice emails, check the weather, play games and view family photos. The user is not required to have internet access. Family members can use the free companion app on their smartphones to send pictures and videos. The grandPad tablet, like Presto, is an easy device that enables older adults to use modern technology to communicate in the easiest way possible.
2) Medication reminders
As people age, the number of medications they take tends to increase. It can be difficult to remember what each drug is for, when you should take it and how you should take it. Technology can help with the confusing task of managing your medication.
Medisafe is a pill reminder app for smartphones or tablets. It shows you the pill you’re scheduled to take, reminds you to take the pill and can even send alerts to a family member if you’ve missed a dose.
Another solution is PillDrill. It’s an app-free tabletop device that requires Wi-Fi for setup. It lights us, sounds an alert and displays dosage information when it’s time to take a pill. This device can also notify loved ones if you have missed a dose. The device costs $199 but there is no monthly subscription.
3) Sight aids
Vision changes tend to occur as you age. The most common is Presbyopia which makes it harder to see close objects or small print. Modern technology can help deal with these vision changes.
EyeReader is a unique reading magnifier that utilizes the LED light of smartphone, providing a solution to reading small print in dark areas. This app can be a substitute for bifocals as it allows the user to zoom in and out with two fingers. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes store for $1.99.
Big Keyboard is an app that makes it easier to see which letter you have just typed on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch screen. It makes the keyboard 40% larger with 100% more contrast.
4) Loss of mobility
Amazon Echo (Alexa) is a wireless speaker that responds to commands and questions. Voice commands can prompt Alexa to do everything from playing music to adding items to a shopping list. It can also answer questions and give weather, traffic and news updates. If you have smart home automation devices, it can even turn lights on or off or adjust the thermostat. Wi-fi is required for Amazon Echo.
iRobot Roomba or NeatoBotvac 80 are robot vacuum cleaners They move around on their own, so you don’t have to push around a heavy vacuum cleaner. They may not completely replace the upright vacuum cleaner, but they can do a lot of the work so you don’t have to do those deep cleans quite so often. This can be a pricey purchase -typically several hundred dollars.
5) Safeguarding money
Older adults are too commonly a victim of financial abuse. In a MetLife study titled “Broken Trust: Elders, Family & Finances”, it is estimated that older American lose $2.6 billion annually as a result of financial abuse. Fortunately, technology is being developed that helps protect those who are susceptible to this type of abuse.
Nomorobo is a free service that helps stop pre-recorded automated calls. It identifies incoming calls from known robocallers and hangs up the call before you answer. It still allows legitimate incoming automated calls, such as school closings or doctor appointment reminders. Nomorobo may be able to block telemarketers that prey on older adults. It works for landlines with most major carriers, but there is a charge for use on a cell phone.
True Link Financials is a reloadable debit card that can be customized to meet your specific needs. It can be set up to allow certain purchases, block specific merchants, block online and phone purchases, set spending limits and alert other family members about charges. The debit card works everywhere Visa debit is accepted and has a monthly fee of $10 per month. This type of card can also be used to monitor, manage and limit a caregiver’s spending.
Advancements in Technology For Older Adults
There is a lot of research and interest going into technology for older adults, including Technology That Supports Aging In Place. Taking advantage of technology can help one stay connected and able to live happy, independent lives. At Blankinship & Foster, we will continue to share information about interesting technology advancements that can improve the quality of your life.