The Future is Now: Tech Tools for Seniors
How tech-savvy is your senior-age mom or dad? Collectively, Canada’s older adults are quite comfortable with technology – and that could help them live independently for longer.
Nearly three-quarters of Canadian adults aged 65 and older feel confident about using technology, according to a survey commissioned by AGE-WELL last year. Seven in 10 agreed that technology can reduce social isolation and help older adults stay active and better manage their health. More than 8 in 10 thought technology can help keep seniors safe and independent and help them live in their own homes.
Could technology change the face of senior living? We already know that most of Canada’s older adults would rather “age in place” than move into an assisted-living facility or live with family members. Aging in place means that seniors live safely and independently where they wish for as long as possible, with the help of health and social supports and services. Technology could play a major role. Indeed, over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the many ways that seniors can use technology to keep in touch, access goods and services, and maintain their well-being.
1. Staying connected
Physical distancing is vital for reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting seniors and other vulnerable people. However, isolation and loneliness present their own health hazards, including depression, anxiety and cognitive decline. During and beyond the pandemic, it’s important for seniors to stay connected to family members and friends, and technology is helping them do that safely. Families are taking advantage of free or inexpensive online services such as Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime to hold video chats, allowing them to see and hear their loved ones on smartphones, tablets and computers. People are also staying in touch on social media, with instant messaging and, of course, by telephone. These options will never replace a hug, but they’re the next best thing.
If you know a senior who needs help with technology, check out TechServeTO, a team of volunteers who provide free tech support to older adults across Canada. Another option is Seniors Tech Services, which provides computer training for an hourly fee.
2. Ordering online
Canadians have never had more options for ordering food, medication, personal care items and other supplies online, via a website or an app. These delivery services are especially helpful for seniors and other people who are sheltering in place, who have mobility limitations or who lack access to transportation.
Many restaurants and grocery stores deliver or use third-party delivery services. Meal kits are also a tasty option. They are pricier than making meals from scratch, but they are convenient and can add variety to your diet.
3. Staying healthy
Older adults can take advantage of a wide range of tech innovations that promote health and well-being, including:
- Virtual appointments with physicians, nurse practitioners, counsellors and other health care providers
- Apps for medication management, medication reminders and tracking medical notes
- Wearable, wristwatch-like devices that track fitness, sleep and heart rate
- Digital home health monitoring that tracks a user’s health metrics
- Medical alert devices that detect when a user falls
- Online fitness videos for older adults
- Fitness video games, such as those made for the Nintendo Wii console
- Personal emergency response systems, which call for help when the user presses a button
- Smart home devices including security systems, connected sensors, automated appliances, voice-activated virtual assistants and more
- Smart gadgets such as electronic pill boxes, thermostats, blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors and more
- Virtual reality (VR) experiences for fun and therapy
- Apps for entertainment, including music, videos, games, reading, cooking and more (check out our recommended apps)
- Apps for relaxation, meditation and journalling
What’s next in tech innovations for seniors? The possibilities are endless. Already available or in the works: robot companions, digital pets, vision-enhancing glasses, stabilizing eating utensils, fall-breaking belts and even health-monitoring toilets.
Read more posts in our special series, The Future is Now.
Bayshore Home Health offers a wide range of home care services to help Canadians live independently for as long as possible, including companionship at home or by telephone. Contact us at 1-877-289-3997 for details.