06 Mar Seniors and Technology
My friend Jim bought his dad an Apple iPad for his 95th birthday. Since he worked and lived in Los Angeles, and his dad resided in St. Louis, Jim hoped the device would make it easier for them to communicate with each other through the technology of text messaging, e-mail, and video chat.
Initially, Jim was concerned the iPad would sit in his dad’s assisted living apartment gathering dust. On the contrary, his dad embraced the technology. Each morning Jim received a wake up text which gave him assurance his dad was ok. And every evening the two enjoyed a video chat which also allowed Jim to see if there were any noticeable changes in his dad’s health and appearance. Jim’s dad become so accustomed and excited about their daily FaceTime calls that he insisted they never miss one.
Although his father recently died at the age of 100, Jim is grateful that technology gave them the opportunity to be more connected with one another. In addition, even though they lived 1800 miles apart, they were able to see each other every day!
The Benefits of Technology for Older Adults
For people older than 65, who did not grow up with technology, it is an understandable challenge to adapt to it. However, the many benefits technology brings makes it worth the effort for seniors to jump on the bandwagon. According to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, while older adults are behind their younger counterparts in smartphone ownership, the share of adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen 24% (from 18% to 42%) since 2013. The report adds that today about half of older adults who own cellphones have some type of smartphone. In 2013 that share was just 23%.
Utilizing technology across an array of digital devices gives seniors many benefits such as:
- The ability to keep track of health and fitness with the latest generation of wearable devices. For example, the Apple Watch Series 4 not only keeps track of number of steps walked and calories burned, but it also monitors heart rate and can generate an electrocardiogram to detect atrial defibrillation. It can also detect a fall, and if after 60 seconds the watch receives no response from the user, it will automatically call emergency services and send a text message to an emergency contact.
- Use smartphone to input pertinent medical information including: medications, blood type, height/weight, and allergies to medications.
- Download and read books on an e-reader or tablet.
- Increase social connections through social media platforms, especially Facebook which is user-friendly.
- Talk to out-of-town family and friends via video chat.
- Play online games for mental exercise.
- Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) device allows the wearer to call for help at the push of a button.