By Christina Bhattacharya
While the number of older adults using the Internet and related tech devices continues to increase, so too does the technology geared towards them. Over half of seniors aged 65 and older use the Internet and 77 percent own a cell phone, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study.
Today's technology can help seniors to age in place more comfortably by keeping them engaged, connected, active and safe. Here are some senior-friendly technology devices to help seniors maintain their independence while monitoring their safety:
With their accessibility, portability, and easy-to-use touchscreen features, many older adults are opting for the computing power of tablets. From brain fitness games to apps that track health information, a tablet can offer an assortment of positive effects on seniors' lives. Seniors can read, listen to music, view photos, and interact with loved ones in real time anywhere in the world—all in the palm of their hands. Additionally, most tablets have 3G or Wi-Fi Internet capabilities, improving access inside and outside the home, and also have a wide range of screen resolutions and sizes for easier reading.
As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, smartphones are more and more essential. Not only are smartphones vital in helping seniors stay connected with friends and loved ones, they are also helping to keep seniors safe and healthy. Senior-friendly smartphones like the Jitterbug Smart are designed to be easy to use, and remove barriers that keep seniors for adopting this technology. They offer a large, bright, easy-to-use home screen with simple access to features like the phone, text messages, camera, pictures, email, the Internet, contacts, and urgent response services (to obtain assistance in the event of an emergency).
Performing physical activity is an excellent way to help seniors increase their endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance needed to perform daily activities and remain independent, says the National Institute on Aging. A fun and trouble-free way to track personal health metrics is by wearing a simple pedometer such as the Lively Wearable. These small, wearable devices can measure metrics like steps taken and encourage daily activity to allow older adults to take control of their own health and wellness.
Personal Emergency Response Systems
Over a third of seniors suffer one or more falls each year that lead to injuries or death, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the risk of falling should not discourage seniors from their favorite activities. While they cannot absolutely prevent slips and falls, one of the most simple and worthwhile ways for seniors to stay independent longer is for them to invest in personal emergency response systems (PERS), like the Lively.
PERS are lightweight, wireless, mobile devices that work in conjunction with the urgent response service to provide a simple, convenient and inexpensive way for seniors to stay safe, at home or on the go. In the event of an emergency, pressing the button on the device automatically connects the user to a response agent who can identify the senior and their location, contact neighbors or family, dispatch emergency medical services, access a nurse or offer additional assistance.
Smart Home Technology
Smart home technology is a rapidly growing field that allows homeowners comfort, security, and energy efficiency at their fingertips. A smart home is equipped with electronic devices that can be controlled remotely via smartphone, tablet or computer. Smart home technology can help seniors remain independent and safe in their homes through interactive technologies and discreet support systems, says the Journal of Aging Science. Smart home devices like LED lighting, electronic video magnifiers, smart thermostats, smart door alarms, smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and appliance shut-off systems can help seniors experience a higher level of independence, activity, and wellness while aging in place.
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