A little over a decade ago, I received my master’s degree in gerontology and long-term care management and have worked as a gerontologist on the administrative side of independent and assisted living communities, in-home care, a national association for long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers (on their aging services technologies side) and even as a product manager for a long-term care electronic health records vendor. From the very beginning I looked at how technology could improve the care provided to seniors. For the most part, I was involved in technology that was for the LTPAC providers to improve their care, but I have also enjoyed the ability to help seniors directly.
Often the technology I review is for Baby Boomers and seniors from the Silent Generation; I am a Gen Xer myself. There is a big difference in the general computer and tech use of Boomers compared to the Silent Generation. While Boomers may have not grown up with the technology as I did, even the oldest of their generation has had to use technology for work purposes and to keep up with their children. The Silent Generation on the other hand, has not had the same opportunities to utilize technology on a daily basis.
One of my major influencers to get into gerontology was a woman named Sylvia who was born in 1898(!). I believe she was 107 when she told me a story of how her great granddaughter had met her husband through the television (hmm?). I was trying to get more out of her as it didn’t quite make sense until I realized that she meant they had met over the Internet. The Internet was not something she understood, as even television had been invented within her lifetime.
Through Gadget Guy MN, I help seniors of any age learn some of the tools that can help “connect” them in the digital age. Tools like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Skype for video chatting with long-distance relatives. Facebook for keeping in touch with old friends and watching grandchildren grow up. Instagram and Pinterest to allow them to follow their interests and see photos of locations long remembered, but perhaps too far of a distance to travel to now. I have even helped someone looking for companionship set up her profile on a dating website…it isn’t for everyone, but if it is of interest, I want to help.
What I mention above are all social-connectedness technologies that are used for communication and can improve isolation. There are even computers and tablets that are specifically designed for seniors and those unfamiliar with technology. There are corded and mobile phones designed specifically for seniors with larger displays and buttons and even the current generation of smartphones have made it easier for seniors to use with their displays that are well over 5 inches. I was just speaking to a senior last week who had upgraded his older iPhone to the iPhone 6 Plus and he said he could now use email on the phone as it was much easier to type and read.
Additionally there are technologies that help seniors to live in their own homes and age in place, such as personal emergency response systems, various safety sensors, medication reminders and dispensers, and more. I will touch on these another time.
What technologies would you like to learn more about for a loved one? Let me know.
Thanks for stopping by!