Technology Benefits Among Seniors

Can you imagine what a senior’s life would be like if not for the latest in technology?

It would certainly be like my father’s when he was in his 50s.

My father was with the mass media and I can still remember his banging away at his Olivetti portable typewriter until late at night for his newspaper column, or a speech for others.somebody else.

Or Orlando Estrada, 70+ from Los Angeles, would still be moving around in his wheelchair.

Orlando was a design engineer of Hewlett-Packard. After retirement, he had to undergo two knee-replacement surgeries which put him in a wheelchair.

For a while, Orlando thought it was the end of his world. Then he joined an online health club in his senior center that uses two Microsoft products intended to help seniors get in shape, increase their social interaction, and manage their health information online.

It helped improve his overall fitness, lowered his blood pressure, and made him get off his wheelchair and walk again.

Of course, technology has always been with us since the dawn of man. But it was primitive, at best, during my father’s time.

Technology grew by leaps and bounds in 1981 when IBM released its first personal computers and, in 1990, the Internet went global.

Then, something happened in 2000 which caught the world totally by surprise – the first batch of baby boomers retired.

They created legions of people in their 60s with different needs. While they all want to enjoy their retirement, a lot of them have to cope with loneliness and medical issues.

Seeing the large business potential of this group, technology cranked its gears up and the rest is history.

Today, there is no aspect of an elderly’s life that is not touched or controlled by technology.

The following are the five major areas where seniors are benefitting tremendously from technology:

1.  Easier social interaction:
Numerous surveys have shown that getting connected is beneficial to an elderly’s health. In fact, it is even more important to a senior’s health and well-being than genetics and maintaining a good weight.

It lowers depression cases by 20% and enhances elderly  people’s cognitive function.

Although online communication could never replace the person-to-person contact, in situations where it is impossible or impractical, an email, a video or audio chat is good enough.

And technology has made all this easier, faster and cheaper.


2.  Personal and home safety:
Various surveys have consistently shown that 80 to 90 of seniors want to age at home.

While this may seem an excellent idea, it is not without risks. Elderly people, being frail, forgetful, and can hardly see, hear or smell, are prone to home accidents.

In 2009 in Wales, England, 7, 475 people aged 65 above died from home accidents, 49% of them due to falls.

To minimize these risks, technology has come up with several products, i.e., fall and smoke detectors, home invasion systems, blood pressure and heartbeat monitors, that send an alarm at the press of a button in case of emergencies.


3.  Physical and Mental Fitness:
Like wheelchair-bound Estrada, you can check into your local seniors center to see if they have activities to help keep you in shape physically and mentally.

The NCOA (National Council on Aging) has several downloadable online programs intended to promote senior fitness, and a A Place for Mom has a good guide for physical and mental health.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can play computer games. They are good to keep loneliness away and helps your mental acuity.


4.  Medication Management:
I am taking a prescription drug a day for my hypertension – my only one – yet there are days when I forget to take it.

How much more if you take almost half-a-dozen a day?

In a 2009 survey done by Medco Health Solutions among seniors, more than half of the respondents are taking more than five prescription drugs a day while 20% were between 10 to 19. How could you manage that?

You can use the good old-fashioned way – the pillbox. It can help to a certain extent. But pillboxes tell you what medication to take, not when.

To remove this burden, technology has come up with smartphone apps that beep you when and what meds to take.


5. Health Tracking:
Last year I bought a wearable pedometer that tracks distance and and calories consumed given a particular activity. I bought that so I can track my daily morning exercise.

It was a simple thing, very basic and it did not last long, by the way. But the point is to show how far technology has covered the bases where health and wellness are concerned.

There are more sophisticated products, apps and cloud-based computing, that monitor your overall health and well-being.

The benefits of these products are invaluable. They provide the basis for your health management. Without them, you may be flying towards a storm without you knowing it.

These days there is no shortage of technology products to help seniors live comfortable, trouble-free life.

The downside is that most of these require a learning curve to use and be of help – something a lot of seniors do not want to go through.

A reader of one of my articles wrote that her 90+ Mom is skeptical about the latest technologies for seniors. But she added that her Mom’s life has been saved several times by the personal emergency warning device she wears around her neck.

At the end of the day, technology is useless unless you embrace it. The stakes, however, are great if you don’t.

Please share with other seniors to help them decide.