I’ve been trying to get my mother to use email for years without success. For someone who could type 75 words per minute on a typewriter (not even an electric one) she was terrified of learning to use a computer keyboard.
I finally got my mother to try to use a Kindle. It was becoming increasingly difficult to find books in large print, and when we did, they were heavy for her to hold (larger print, more pages.) With the Kindle, she can adjust the text size and enjoy reading. It took months to convince her to even try to learn how to use it.
For the majority of individuals under age 70, technology is something we deal with on a daily basis, but for those who did not grow up with cell phones and laptops, these devices can be terrifying. What many older individuals do not realize is how technology can make daily tasks easier and improve their quality of life.
We know that most people do not want to leave their homes as they age. The use of technology allows these individuals to live independently for as long as possible, and has the added benefit of providing support to family caregivers and health care providers.
Seniors are using Skype and Facebook to connect with friends and family who do not live nearby. Family members can share photos, experiences and have face to face visits. This maintains a social support system. Many seniors are also using the Internet to manage their medical care. Some physicians now allow email conversations, prescription refills, lab results etc. to be done online.
For families who are at a distance, the Internet can help caregivers coordinate care by sharing information and post messages. Webcams can also make it possible to see how your parent is doing.
In addition to helping with social support, here are some other ways you can incorporate technology to improve the life of someone at home:
- Home Monitoring Systems such as emergency response, fall detection, passive motion monitoring (for persons with Dementia/wander risks), bed monitoring (for fall risks and incontinence
- Tele-medicine Devices that monitor blood pressure, weight scale, oxygen and communicates this information to a caregiver, physician or hospital.
- Medication Monitoring Systems that work with sensors to alert seniors to avoid missed dosages and give reminders of the appropriate time to take their medications.
- Intelligent phones that help people with memory problems to remember who called last time or the name and relationship of the person calling
More and more older people are doing more activities online and the biggest increase in Internet use since 2005 has been found in the 70-75 year-old age group. There are a number of websites geared to their interests.
Introduce technology into a daily routine gradually and start with something that is easy to understand and use, but remember no matter how connected we are, people still need to be involved with other people.