Give Your Health a Tech Check

tech check

Have you heard the news? Ida Keeling, a delightful, 100-year-old runner, set a world record for her age group (80 years and older) in the 100-meter dash at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia. She celebrated by dropping to the ground for a few push-ups.

“You see so many older people just sitting around — well, that’s not me,” Ida Keeling told the New York Times. “Time marches on, but I keep going… I was pretty fast as a girl. What makes me faster now is that everyone else slowed down.”

Meanwhile back at home, I am just trying to get my 10,000 steps in daily!

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Yes, today’s women are more vibrant and active than ever, but our bodies still continue to change and our health cannot be ignored.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, 44.2% of women over the age of 65 are obese, and 66.7% have hypertension. Even those of us who don’t have severe health issues have health goals – but reaching them can be challenging.

Last month, Harris Poll released the results of a survey of the health views and goals of individuals over the age of sixty-five. Not surprisingly, eighty-five percent of respondents wanted to improve their health for various reasons. Health care goals are shifting from quantity (living as long as you can), to quality (having the ability to do the things you want to do).

According to the survey, 38% of women over the age of 65 want more information on living a healthy lifestyle (nutrition, weight management, etc.), 36% wanted to learn more about Medicare and other health benefits and 24% wanted more information about preventative care.

Women, in particular, want to feel better, lose weight, be more energetic and improve their physiques. As a nurse, health coach, and woman approaching retirement, I understand the importance of regular exercise, good nutrition, regular health screenings, getting vaccinated, and catching enough sleep.

Despite our positive health goals and good intentions, though, we don’t always have the tools we need to manage it all.

However, the answers are often closer than we think. Technology gives us the power to take our health into our own hands, literally.

Eighty-three percent of female respondents say that technology is already a part of their everyday life – but only 47% use it to manage their health. So how do we incorporate technology into our healthcare?

  • Use technology to get the “big picture.” Our bodies are complex – and so is healthcare. When we focus on one singular aspect of our health – our weight, for example – we can lose sight of other aspects of our well-being that are equally as important. Simple, easy-to-use technology exists that can personalize information and guide us to our optimal health. Getting this holistic view is the first step to understanding and improving our health.

  • Take advantage of the “Internet of Things.” In today’s world, almost everything is connected. Our phones can connect to our cars, operate our cable boxes remotely, etc. Health technology is no different. Now, we can track our steps on electronic wristbands, weigh ourselves on wireless scales and record nutrition intake – all of which can be consolidated into one location.
  • Figure out what motivates you and then find a product or program that offers it. There are many types of motivators that can get us on the path to improved health. Anyone who owns a Fitbit knows the satisfying feeling of the band buzzing against your wrist to mark a goal achieved. We can also look to any other industry to appreciate the power of incentives – airline points, Starbucks rewards, etc. So why not in healthcare? In fact, 45% of female respondents say they would engage in healthier behaviors if rewarded. Some progressive health plans are now offering their members gift cards and other rewards for participating in activity challenges or other health programs. Smartphone apps include daily challenges and incorporate “gaming” elements to further incentivize their users to reach their goals.

It doesn’t take a survey to know that our health is deeply personal and every one is unique in terms of their health goals and motivations, available benefits, and other factors. See if your health plan is taking advantage of new technology that gives you personal recommendations to be your best self on a daily basis.

Technology alone won’t solve all of our health problems, but it can provide us with the right tools and incentives to do it ourselves. So as I take my daily walk around the block, I keep thinking of Ida and how she didn’t even start running until age 68. Can I ever be like her? …Suddenly I feel a buzzing on my wrist, 10,000 steps! Well, that’s a great way to start.

Andrea Powers is the director of Healthcare Solutions at Silverlink Communications, a Welltok company, with over 40 years of experiences in the field of clinical practice and health education. As an experienced healthcare professional she has a passion for improving engagement by developing content and programs that are easy for consumers to understand and apply.

LivingBetter50 is a magazine for women over 50, offering an over 50 magazine free download for women with spirit!

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Give Your Health a Tech Check
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