|5 ways new technology is helping seniors.|
In the past, technological advancement for the mainstream population often surpassed senior citizens’ abilities to make use of them. As people aged, they began to find themselves feeling more obsolete, unable to keep up with the fast paced society around them.
Nowadays, with the seamless ease of so many digital choices, seniors are easily integrated into many more technological opportunities than ever before. Digital sophistication offers a broader spectrum that is no longer only relegated to the young and agile. It brings everything from communication, problem solving, effortless travel and even compassionate in-home health care into a senior’s world that they would have never had the chance to experience at any other time.
These 5 ways new technology is helping seniors offers a small example of the multitude of digital (and otherwise) opportunities that can easily advance the elderly population.
Answering health questions or reaching out for assistance is no longer a major fear for seniors. Now, they can determine how to deal with certain health and safety challenges that used to require a trip to the doctor or hospital. Simply plugging symptoms into a search engine and comparing valid websites, then calling their doctor if necessary, is a technological advancement that can immediately ease minds.
Another helpful tool is the Personal Emergency Response System (PERS). This is a wearable technology for seniors that allows the user to call for help with the push of a button any time of day or night. This simple device can enable seniors to remain independent and active without concerning themselves with the dangers of living on their own.
It is important to note that search engine results as well as PERS do need to be monitored and maintained or confusion, overuse and/or self-dosing may ensue.
It is estimated that, according to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University:
● 1 in 3 seniors falls each year, and 25% of those who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures.
● Only 25% of hip fracture patients make a full recovery; 40% require nursing home care; and nearly 25% die within 12 months.
● By 2020, the annual direct and indirect cost of fall injuries is expected to reach nearly $55 billion.
These estimates are sobering to say the least but thankfully there is technology attempting to address the issue. One such tool is a vibrating stimulation sole insert. This device delivers a “vibratory noise” to the feet, increasing sensation that is often a challenge for seniors resulting in potential gait, balance and eventually falling results. Since muscle weakness and poor balance are attributed to a great percentage of falls for seniors, the sole insert can help combat these issues.
A study cited by Wyss regarding vibratory stimulation stated that,
“Findings published today in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation show that imperceptible vibratory stimulation applied to the soles of the feet improved balance by reducing postural sway and gait variability in elderly study participants.”
Cognitive challenges often arise as people age which can result in a multitude of issues, including confusion. Seniors that experience this can become susceptible to losing their way outside the home and possibly encounter dangerous situations.
With the advancement of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology, this can easily be averted enabling seniors to continue independent living. A smartphone that is explained and demonstrated to a senior has many applications which can be utilized when it comes to walking, driving or taking public transportation. With the simple push of a button, a senior can find their way, no longer having to rely on others.
The Aetrex Navistar GPS Footwear System is another technology applied to footwear which can track a senior when they leave home. This is an excellent tool for those suffering from any stage of dementia as well as those that have health problems that may render them unable to communicate or pass out.
In a review of the Aetrex Navistar in Kiplinger magazine, a user comments,
“Harris Shapiro, 77, doesn't have dementia, but the New York City investment banker wears Navistar shoes from time to time. "I do have some health problems. I've passed out on a few occasions. We thought the shoes would be a good experiment,…My wife on her computer can go to a site and track me wherever I go,”
One major cause of seniors being unable to live on their own is the inability to maintain proper medication dosing. This can even affect home care service employees who are not versed on proper protocol or are unable to receive pertinent information from the senior themselves.
Thankfully, according to a US Department of Health and Human Services report, medication management is available via “electronic prescribing; computerized physician order entry; clinical decision support systems; tele-pharmacy; and devices that dispense medication, provid[ing] reminders, and in some cases monitor[ing] adherence.”
Once again, it is important to have someone monitor medication and not to sole rely on electronic dispensing.
Body and Brain Workouts
A sedentary lifestyle can certainly take its toll on senior’s physical and mental health. With continued gaming technology there are several ways the brain and even the body can be worked out to be able to stay on point. Nintendo’s Wii system is a great way to get moving and thinking all at once. It involves movements that mimic tennis, golf, bowling, boxing and more all from the comfort of a living room.
Other games for seniors include classics like Mario Kart, Tetris, and simple memory boards that require flipping and matching various pictures. There are also specific brain training games like Project: Evo and Luminosity.
In a study that researched the effects of video games on aging brains it was found that, “…the research provides evidence that video games can alter the brain's plasticity, or its ability to change functionally over time.” (CBS News)
These 5 ways new technology is helping seniors shows, just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ regarding what may be coming in the future. Good news for seniors who will surely benefit from continued research and education in this field.
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