Have you struggled keeping up with your children and grandchildren with the use of technology in your life? Do you wonder if technology is more a benefit than a curse? Do you question whether you are really better off with technology? If you’re asking these questions, you’re not alone. We all have these questions! The facts are that seniors are using technology more and more. A recent Pew Research study showed that, in 2014, 59% of seniors go online and 77% have a cell phone. Both are up considerably from the same study two years prior. But technology’s place in our personal lives reaches beyond communicating with family and checking your news feed. It is quickly becoming an invaluable tool for seniors in regards to their health and safety.
Through ever-expanding technology, adults may stay independent and safe in your home longer than you might without its use. Many types of assistive technology are available. Home monitoring systems can be a lifesaver for seniors who live alone in their homes. These systems can detect a fall or other emergency and in some cases, can even track your vital signs and alert someone to a problem. GPS technology can immediately alert caregivers in the event your loved one is prone to wandering or getting lost. There are a wealth of other devices, such as LED lighting, medication dispensing appliances, photo-enhanced phone dialers, and stove shut-off systems.
Our friends in Europe are also embracing the benefits of technology at home for aging adults. The European Commission has invested 3 million Euros in a robot device to support seniors living at home called GiraffPlus. What I like about this device is that it combines multiple layers and functions in one: videoconferencing, data collection from home sensors, and electronic medical monitoring, such as a blood pressure cuff. This results in much lower cost and an increased sense of independence.
A friend and leader in the field of home-based care just shared news of another device that sounds very relevant and meaningful for our generation of aging persons, the Lively Wearable. It’s proactive, and gives the individual wearing it helpful information. The attractive wrist device is an emergency response button, but also tracks steps and activity, detects falls, and features Bluetooth connectivity.
Please keep an open mind about technology. Yes, it can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult, but it can also enhance your life in so many ways. If you are passionate about staying in your own home as you age, technology can be part of a plan that can make that happen.
What types of technology would you like to see that would help you stay in your home as you age?
Jane Kelley is the Executive Director of LiveWell By Blakeford. In her seven years with Blakeford, she has served as Vice President of Blakeford At Home and served as the CARF-CCAC accreditation team leader for Home and Community Services and Case Management programs.