Technology for Seniors in Assisted Living
Even though seniors may have a lower rate of technology adoption than any other age group, this group continues to become more digitally connected. According to Pew Research, about 40% of seniors now own smartphones, which is a significant increase from the number of those who did a few years ago, and internet adoption has risen steadily as well. Today, many assisted living communities offer WiFi and other technology programs to help seniors make the most of technology. Here’s a closer look at how your loved ones can use technology to improve their connectivity and overall well-being while they enjoy assisted living life.
Big Screen Televisions
Today big screen televisions come with incredibly detailed pictures, and they’re a perfect addition to your loved one’s living area at their assisted living community. The larger view offered by a big screen is easier for seniors to see, and it’s easy to adjust the sound to accommodate any hearing loss. For seniors that don’t get the chance to travel often, watching travel shows on a large screen can make them feel like they’re going abroad themselves and larger screens are also perfect for senior exercise videos, game shows, and more.
Tablets, whether they’re iPads or other similar devices, are lightweight and feature easy-to-use touchscreens, yet they’re much larger than smartphones. Seniors can use them to play games promoting brain fitness or install apps that make it easy to keep track of health information. Video chat apps can be used on tablets to stay in touch with loved ones, too. These devices make reading books easy too since it’s easy to adjust the font size for each individual’s needs. With so many great apps available today, seniors can do everything from view photos to learn a new language with the help of a tablet.
Skype, Facetime, and Other Video Messaging Applications
Skype, Facetime, and other video messaging apps help increase interaction with loved ones and friends across the miles, which can keep seniors from feeling isolated and lonely. Maintaining social connections later in life decreases the risk of depression and improves overall physical and emotional well-being. Communicating with family becomes easy with video messaging applications, allowing seniors to see people in real time. Not only can these apps be used on computers, but they’re also available for tablets and smartphones as well.
Beyond offering an excellent method of face-to-face communication, this technology can keep seniors from feeling left out from big family events they can’t attend. For example, someone can use Skype or similar applications to stream a wedding to an aging loved one live, so they don’t miss out on those special memories.
Video and Computer Games
Video games and computer games aren’t just for young people – many seniors enjoy them, too. Not only are they a lot of fun, but recent studies have found that playing video games may help ward off mild cognitive impairment in seniors. Learning new things by playing 3-D video games engages the hippocampus of the brain and may increase the gray matter and functional activity in the brain. Some games, such as games played with the Wii Fit, can be used to improve physical health, while others promote social interaction in aging adults.
Virtual reality (VR) and altered reality (AR) games and experiences also provide benefits for seniors. With VR, seniors have the ability to visit locations across the world, which allows them to enjoy other places and cultures from home. For seniors who experience pain, VR may provide some relief. One study found that during VR sessions patients in the trial had a 24% drop in their pain levels.
Using Social Media to Stay in Touch
Social media sites like Facebook, Google+, and Instagram also offer a great way to stay in touch, and research shows that nearly half of seniors that use the internet use social networking sites like Facebook. Aging adults can check in with family members, easily see pictures, and stay up-to-date on family news by using social media.
Continuing Learning Online
With the help of the internet, seniors can also continue their education online from their assisted living community. Lifelong learning comes with many benefits, such as improved mental well-being, better health, and an increase in self-efficacy. Having the technology of the internet at their fingertips makes it easy for aging adults to keep learning, whether they want to take actual college courses, learn a language, or learn a new hobby. Seniors can sign up for college classes with many different online universities, or if they want to go the free route, sites like edX offer college-level courses free of charge. For learning new languages, sign language, or even an exciting new hobby like knitting, YouTube is packed with helpful how-to videos that make it fun and easy to pick up a new skill.
Wearable Technology for Seniors
Wearable technology, from medical alert systems to fitness trackers, offers many benefits for seniors residing on an assisted living property. Fitness tracking devices like bracelets or watches make it easy for aging adults to stay active by keeping track of their steps, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, sleep activity, and more. Medical alert systems can be worn as bracelets or necklaces and set up to alert assisted living staff members and/or family members if the button is pushed by the wearer.