Technology for the Elderly
The population is aging more rapidly than at any point in history. Healthcare improvements along with a better understanding of good nutrition and healthy habits allow us to advance to older ages with greater health than ever before.
However, even with the best care aging can present problems. Thankfully, technology has been keeping up with the evolving needs of an aging population and the latest advancements have the potential to make our retirement years far more enjoyable than you may have imagined possible only a few decades ago.
Aging in Place
Aging in place was often impossible. As people age their mobility becomes more limited and walking up and down a flight of stairs repeatedly simply becomes impossible. Because of this, many elderly homeowners would sell their home and move to a single-story residence or transition into a retirement community. Even if this wasn’t what they necessarily wanted, it was frequently the only logical option.
Fortunately, technology has made elevators and lifts for elderly homeowners a possibility for an increasing number of individuals. Originally, this technology was cost prohibitive for the average person but it has been refined extensively over the past decades and is now an affordable option for many more retirees.
Another innovation which has made aging in place a more viable solution for homeowners is the ability to work from home. In the past, many retirees would find their decreased income made it impossible to remain in the larger home they had once easily afforded. Working outside of the home in lower paying jobs was an option, but not as enjoyable or rewarding in many ways as their previous careers. The internet has made it possible for retirees, and anyone else, to create a business they love from the comfort of their own home which can provide the needed financial resources to age in place while continuing to do meaningful work.
Mobile Phones and Apps
It is remarkable to think that it was only a little over a decade ago that the common telephone became an irreplaceable part of so many peoples lives. In 2007, Apple released the first iPhone and ever since the smartphone industry has grown exponentially. There are many smartphones and apps that are ideally suited for an aging population.
Many smartphones allow users to control their smartphone from their touchscreen. The ability to remotely view who is at the front door and then unlock the door without having to get up is a valuable tool. Other sci-fi like smartphone capabilities includes turning the lights in any part of the home on or off, ordering necessities from online stores, controlling the thermostat, and even opening or closing the garage door.
Then there are the interpersonal relationships that can benefit from the use of a smartphone. Grandparents can have face-to-face relationships with their children and grandchildren without ever leaving the comfort of their phone with free video conferencing software. Social media sites allow seniors to diversify their personal network by finding like-minded individuals who enjoy the same hobbies even if they are located in a different state or country.
Digital Health Care
Perhaps the most exciting change is the emerging digital healthcare marketplace. Recently the tech giant Best Buy indicated their interest in this space.
Some of the digital healthcare features that are already widely available include telehealth apps that allow individuals to access high-quality medical care within an app on their phone. While this is obviously not well suited for emergency or critical healthcare needs, it is a fantastic solution for those seniors who only have to go in for routine issues which could be taken care of remotely.
The abundance of health wearable also allows seniors and their medical providers or caregivers to monitor specific health conditions like daily activity levels, weight, sleep quality, medication levels, and more.
Apps available on individual’s smartphones also help make it easier than ever for doctors to access pertinent medical information across practices. When people set up a digital medical file they are able to grant access to the practitioners they regularly use so there is never any confusion about the medication or treatments which are being prescribed by other providers.
Technological innovations are increasingly make aging more enjoyable. Never before has the level of independence and health been available for senior citizens and by all projections this phase of life should only become more enjoyable over time as technology continues to make leaps forward.