Technology for an Aging Population

Technology and the Elderly

The latest U.S. Census data shows that more than 13 percent of the population, or 41.4 million people, is over 65 years old. By 2060, that percentage will climb to almost 20 percent. As the population ages, our technology to support seniors is also maturing. The gap between seniors and technology is affordability and education. Learn how the following technologies are helping to close that gap for the senior in your life.

Knowledge and Skills Block the Benefits

Set a laptop in front of a senior, and you will get responses ranging from anxiety to outright fear. Many seniors grew up with typewriters and landline phones. Unlike the current generation, tablets and smartphones are not natural tools for baby boomers and their parents. Learning how to use technology is the first step to helping seniors gain the benefit from it, says The New York Times.

Local communities have programs to introduce seniors to computers and other technology. Community centers, colleges, some churches and businesses offer introductory classes. Senior-oriented online sites are available for support, such as SeniorNet.org. Getting the senior comfortable working with the technology is key for them to get the benefits from it.

Staying Connected

Email and social media help seniors stay connected with friends and family. This is especially important for the senior when they're unable to see their loved ones in person, says CaregiverStress.com. Seniors in their own home or in a care center can become isolated without social interaction. Though no technology takes the place of real life contact, social media and video conferencing tools such as Skype can keep a senior connected to their families.

Access to a computer can also help the senior stay connected with current world and community events. They may have access to TV or radio, but the Internet allows them to find out more about topics of interest. For example, they can get more detailed weather and sports information than on TV.

It also allows them to manage their schedule better. They can check on activities at the local senior center or church, find movie times, make travel plans, reserve shuttle pickups and more. A senior can be more active when they have access to find out what’s going on in their community.

Devices for Senior Accessibility

Laptops and tablets can get a senior connected with the world again. There are various options to meet the needs of each senior. Laptops with larger screens benefit those with poor eyesight, as would an additional, larger monitor. You may also want to add a keyboard that is more comfortable for the senior.

For the senior whose hands won’t let them easily use a keyboard, a tablet may be a good option. Using a stylus may help the senior navigate on a touch screen. When researching devices, click here to find options for seniors. Just make sure adequate training is given on any device selected for the senior.

Help with Daily Activities

An e-book reader, like the Kindle or Nook, may be a good introduction to technology. It gives seniors a variety of choices, and the display can be adjusted to their eyesight. Some models include text-to-speech capabilities as well.

Online games can help keep the senior’s mind sharp as well as provide some entertainment. Brain training games are available from sites such as Lumosity.com. Crossword puzzles and word games on other sites keep the senior’s mind active.

Digital pill boxes are available, reports USA Today, that can be programmed to remind seniors when to take their medications. Some of them have voice reminders as well as digital alarms.

There are even comprehensive systems, says Home Care Magazine, that combine social media, email, text and entertainment all in one device. The GrandCare system is composed of a touch screen that lets the senior play games, watch videos, participate in social media, manage their calendar and get reminders of activities such as meal and medication times.