When it comes to wellbeing and emotional health, technology has always been something of a double-edged sword. Every time a new technology revolution appeared in the marketplace; it came with concerns about mental performance. For years, people complained that television would create generations filled with couch potatoes. In the same vein, experts released reports suggesting that social media could cause anxiety and depression.
However, when used correctly, technology also has the power to transform a person’s life, offering opportunities for greater independence, accessible communication, and endless entertainment. For seniors, technology could play a particularly important role in the years to come. Increasingly, we’re beginning to discover that the right tech in an elderly person’s routine can drive significant enhancements in quality of life.
What’s more, seniors across the globe (particularly in the UK) are becoming more accepting of technology overall. Around 41% of adults over the age of 75 now regularly use the internet. Rebekah Carter, a contributor at Broadband Genie has provided us with this guide on how technology can make a difference to today’s older generation.
Endless Opportunities for Communication
Despite initial fears and rejections to things like smartphones and social media, seniors are now beginning to discover the benefits of being “logged on” when it comes to addressing feelings of isolation. One study by Gransnet, a social networking site specifically designed for people over the age of 50, around 3 quarters of the older people in the UK are lonely.
The good news? Social media has the power to cure that loneliness. Social apps and smartphone technology allow 52% of seniors to feel less separated from their loved ones. Today, technology means that elderly individuals can log into social media and stay up-to-date with what’s going on with their family in a matter of seconds. They can also send instant messages to their loved ones or engage in voice and video calls with people who live in countries all around the world.
VoIP and video calling mean that we no longer need to worry about things like expensive calling channels when staying in touch with grandma and grandpa. Anyone can have an immersive, internet-based conversation.
Meditation and Relaxation
Unfortunately, stress isn’t one of those things that just goes away when you get older. As you age, you might find better ways of dealing with things like anxiety and worry, but we all still have moments where we can benefit from a little extra assistance to help us deal with stress. Because stress can have a significant impact on your physical health, as well as your mental wellbeing, it’s essential to keep your emotions in check during your later years.
After all, stress can increase your chances of everything from heart disease and diabetes, to gastrointestinal problems, depression, strokes, and more. Technology once again has the power to deliver support to older individuals who can’t afford to seek professional assistance from a personal therapist, or don’t feel comfortable arranging appointments with their doctor.
Meditation apps like Calm or Headspace use guided meditation to help individuals of any age relax and unwind when they’re feeling overwhelmed. These apps can even provide unique and personalised meditation options to help people overcome certain kinds of stress. There are meditation routines for when you’re feeling blue when you need more energy, and even when you want help getting to sleep at night.
Keeping in Shape
Exercise is essential at any stage in your life. However, getting regular activity into your routine may become particularly important as you get older. As we age, our muscles and bones begin to lose some of their density, increasing our chances of injuries and ailments. Regular exercise helps seniors to regain their strength and reclaim their independence, no matter their age. Certain kinds of exercise, like strength training, can even assist with alleviating the symptoms of things like chronic arthritis.
There are fitness apps available for people from any walk of life today. These apps come with personalised settings that allow seniors to choose the kind of workout that’s right for them based on their medical conditions and fitness levels. For instance, you could use Fitbit to try and remind yourself to walk a certain number of steps per day. Additionally, tools like MyFitnessPal and Strava assist with things like tracking calorie intake and monitoring physical wellness, to reduce the risk of chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes sets in.
With these easy-to-use apps, elderly individuals can regain their energy with training sessions that are suited to them. Fitbit even has a new relaxation feature that comes with breathing exercises that seniors can do when they’re finished exercising to help them cool down each day and get ready for a calmer, more relaxed evening.
Games and Entertainment
Seniors in retirement can easily get bored when they’re left with nothing to focus their attention on. Unfortunately, boredom increases the chances that some elderly individuals will either spend their day snoozing or sitting on the couch – which leads to further issues with things like mental and physical well being. However, technology like computers, smartphones, and tablets now offer access to endless forms of entertainment, intended to keep your mind busy as you age.
For instance, for those who want to stay tuned to what’s going on in the television world, there are endless streaming apps available that allow seniors to watch their favourite shows without spending a fortune on monthly services. You can find apps like NowTV, Amazon Prime and Netflix on the iTunes app store and Google Play Store.
Aside from streaming opportunities, the digital world also gives seniors access to plenty of games that they can use to keep their mind active too. For mental exercise, seniors can tap into common titles like:
- Mah-jong for memory development
- Tetris for spatial recognition
- Trivial pursuit for fact recall
Even trending games like candy crush and temple run give individuals something that they can focus their minds on to improve concentration and deliver better blood flow through the brain, reducing the risk of deterioration in the mind over time.
Medication Management and Tracking
One of the biggest worries that many seniors have as they get older is that they’ll lose their independence and be unable to look after themselves. No-one wants to feel like a burden on their family and friends as they age. Any app that helps an elderly person to care for themselves more effectively also gives that person more independence and confidence to help them make the most of their golden years.
For instance, there are now smartphone apps that can help to reduce the risk of medication errors for many seniors. Since a lot of people have trouble remembering to take their medications or knowing which pills to take when they have a lot of medication to remember, apps can be very useful. These simple applications allow individuals to set up reminders that tell them when to take their pills each day. When the notification comes through to the person’s smartphone, they can check off the reminder and tick that medication as being taken.
This way, if the senior forgets whether they took a pill later on in the day, they can check their medication app to avoid taking an extra dose of the same drugs.
Independence and Health Management
Another great way that technology is giving today’s seniors more independence and control over their healthcare, is by allowing them to track their wellbeing over an extended period of time. Smartphone apps combined with cloud-based health information and tracking systems can give seniors access to all the information that they need to properly monitor and manage their health. For instance, you could use a smartphone app to track all the medications you’re taking and make notes about your medical history, so you don’t forget to mention anything at your next doctor’s appointment.
There are also apps that link with wearable apps like FitBit and other tracking tools that can monitor things like heart rate and oxygen levels when those devices are worn by a senior. These wearable tools offer useful insights into how a certain medication is affecting an elderly person’s wellbeing overtime and can also provide doctors and family members with alerts whenever something goes wrong.
Tools like “Me and My Caregivers” make it easier for senior care professionals to access all the details on a patient required to deliver a higher quality of care. This also means that seniors can spend more time in their own home, reducing the risk of depression or damaged self-esteem.
Technology for the Senior Community
Technology isn’t just an incredible tool for younger generations. We’re also beginning to see just how valuable the right tech and tools can be when it comes to improving quality of life and mental wellbeing for older individuals too.
Whether it’s a medication app that reduces the risk of overdoses, or a streaming service that keeps seniors entertained during long afternoons at home, people of every age can tap into the endless benefits of technology today.