Smart Technology that Can Help You Care for Aging Parents

By on February 22, 2019
Techn9ology

Technology offers more benefits for seniors than any other age group. Smartphones keep older adults connected, smart home devices help them save money, and reminder apps help keep them on schedule. But seniors fall behind when it comes to adopting technology. That means fewer can enjoy what technology offers.

A big chunk of the adoption lag is fear of the unknown. Today’s technology and online world are complex. Even young people inundated with gadgets and apps can find it difficult to comprehend. But overcoming tech anxiety is doable. Online resources exist that explain everything, from artificial intelligence to the difference between smart home tech and IoT.

Technology helps seniors stay safe, healthy, and connected. It’s critical that they take advantage of it by understanding the benefits. Here some ways smart tech can help you, your parents, or any older adult in your life.

Smart Home Tech

Not only will smart home tech save on energy costs for your aging parent (50% of the energy in your home is from heating and cooling alone), but you can also help them monitor their lights, temperature, and security from your home using a convenient app.

Smart thermostats that keep your parent’s temperature regulated, smart lights that can be turned off and on remotely, and smart doorbells that keep your parent safe with cameras and recording options, all contribute to their well-being.

Depending on the plan you select, you may be able to help your parent monitor their home from the convenience of your own home. This is especially beneficial if they are unfamiliar with using mobile app technology.,

Social Media Apps

Loneliness for seniors can be a problem. Lack of mobility or transportation makes it hard to stay connected to family and friends. But social media apps like Facebook and Twitter let seniors video chat with grandchildren or reconnect with long lost friends — all from the comfort of their home.

By joining online groups and organizations, seniors can connect with like-minded people and engage with their community. Although Facebook is the largest social media platform, there are plenty of other social networks to choose from — some that even cater to seniors.

And by maintaining online connections, seniors gain other avenues for getting help with travel, tech support, or emergency assistance.

Sleep Tech

As we get older, our need for good, restorative sleep increases. Unfortunately, as we get older, we get fewer hours of quality sleep each night. Insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders are common sleep disruptors among seniors. These disruptors can have serious mental and physical side effects, from increased anxiety to high blood pressure.

To get more quality sleep time, consider getting a sleep tracker. These apps monitor how much rest you’re getting at night. Often used with wearables like smartwatches, sleep trackers detect your nightly movements, heart rate, and time spent snoring. They can even record room temperature to determine if the heat or chill is making you restless at night. Use these apps to download daily, weekly, or monthly sleep reports so you can make the necessary changes.

Mind Stimulators

Seniors benefit from mental exercise as much as physical exertion. Older folks can keep their minds sharp with regular cognitive workouts like problem-solving and learning. Daily puzzles like Sudoku or arts and crafts projects build strong connections within the brain. These connections improve memory and help fight dementia. Of course, they also solve the problem of boredom.

There are many online puzzles and video games for entertaining and stimulating the mind. Game systems like Nintendo Wii are popular because they combine problem-solving, entertainment, and physical exercise. Digital versions of analog classics like jigsaw puzzles or Scrabble work well for seniors with hand mobility issues. That’s because digital game pieces are easier to manipulate. And online versions of popular games like bingo help homebound seniors play without leaving the house. There are even digital versions of common craft projects like paint-by-number apps.

Memory Aids

Smart technology offers many devices, apps, and services to help with reminders. With smartphones and apps, seniors can set alarms, get calendar alerts, or record voice memos. Or they can use their phone’s camera to take photos of brand names, street numbers, or parking lot sections to refer to later.

Medication reminder apps prompt seniors when it’s time to take their meds. Some apps can track multiple users and notify them when it’s time for a refill. Most reminder apps integrate with smartwatches, which can vibrate to signal the user. This is an effective way to prompt those with hearing loss.   

Motion sensor prompts are another effective memory aid for seniors with memory loss. The sensor detects your movements and plays pre-recorded messages. For example, a user could place a sensor near a front door so that it detects when they’re about to leave. The user could program the message to remind them to “lock the front door” or “take the grocery list.”

Cybersecurity

Credit card fraud and identity theft are serious privacy concerns for seniors  — a popular target group among cybercriminals. Data thieves use phishing emails to steal personal information and login credentials. Antivirus software protects your personal data by scanning websites and emails for computer viruses and malware.

Look for antivirus software that includes a password manager. They’re indispensable for creating and remembering lengthy, complex passwords — the most effective ones. If you don’t want to invest in antivirus software, get a standalone password manager. It makes logging into online accounts easier and safer. Many password managers are free and work on both desktop and mobile.

Virtual Retirement Communities

To meet demand and lower costs, retirement homes are moving online. Virtual retirement communities help seniors “age in place” within their own homes. Instead of moving to new housing, seniors can use virtual retirement communities to bring resources to their front door. These resources include transportation, social outings, pet services, exercise sessions, and similar programs.

Virtual retirement communities are a more affordable option compared to traditional living centers. And they’re a cheaper option for seniors with few housing expenses like a mortgage. But members must be able to live alone to participate in virtual retirement communities.

Getting Seniors Online

Getting seniors online can be difficult. Internet adoption rates are still too low among those over 65, so there are still obstacles to overcome. Aside from the challenges of tech anxiety, there’s the cost of connecting. Most internet plans run anywhere from $50 to $100 each month — a hurdle for fixed income households.

But there are low-cost options for internet service. Most major broadband services offer special pricing plans for low-income households. Seniors can’t use smart technology if they can’t get online, so getting them connected is the first step.

By: Hilary Thompson

 

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Smart Technology that Can Help You Care for Aging Parents