The tech crowd that you may know or see is most likely going
to be the younger crowd, from teenagers up to those in their
thirties and forties, however a new group of online adapters
are catching on this newfangled technology thing and using it
can actually have some healthy benefits.
In the last six months,
baby boomers and seniors aged 50 and older have been increasingly
flocking to that of the digital life online, making up about
53% of those who are now online with some kind of purpose, whether
it be checking email, surfing web, or yes, checking out their
Facebook posts. In fact, many different assisted living communities
and libraries are embracing this new group of adapters by helping
to guide them along the way.
Benefits of Technology
Most would probably
look at this insurgence as something…weird. Come on, how
many of us have cringed with the knowledge that our parents
want to be friends with us on Facebook? And be honest, how many
of you are actively looking at tablets or tabtops as gifts for
your parents or grandparents this holiday season, just so they’ll
stop using your computer or tablet?
However, this new trend
may have some very beneficial properties to it, especially in
the case of seniors who may be living in a home alone or who
has recently transitioned into that of an assisted living community.
Most of us have probably moved out of the city or even state,
which leaves grandma or grandpa at home alone, or in the case
of those who have transitioned to that of assisted living communities,
they might be in a new environment and may want to keep to themselves.
is where technology comes to play. Consider –
• Social networking
can be a gateway to speaking with family and friends who live
outside of their city or state (or even country).
• Email, while a bit slow in terms of social platforms,
can be utilized for keeping in contact with others.
• Many health care apps are available through smartphones
or tablets that can provide assistance in a senior’s health
care without them needing to visit a doctor every week.
• YouTube has been a great instrument in showcasing seniors
enjoying themselves, despite being seniors.
• Alzheimer’s and dementia
patients have shown signs of recognition, thanks to playlists
that might be streaming from a iPod or iPad or other digital
While seniors are growing
in the use of technology, there are still those who are very
reluctant to use it. According to a Pew
Research poll, while 53% of those 65 and older were using
the Internet, that number dropped by 34% once they reached the
age of 75. This is of course the age in which many of the illnesses
and diseases start to affect a senior and it’s also the
time in which more of them should be online.
The big reason is because
a lot of the things we’ve gotten used to are now online,
in fact for many things, specials and discounts can only be
found online. This of course can be a big barrier for those
seniors at the age of 75, who are missing out on these things.
In many cases, there is still a fear of computers and technology,
as well as a lack of awareness and other physical disabilities,
such as hearing or vision loss.
Generation X and Y are
the most familiar with technology, growing up in an age of computers,
the Internet, and of course Facebook; Generation Y in particular
are the most fearless amongst us, with many of them seeing no
issues in sharing personal details about themselves online,
including their address, phone numbers, and relationship status.
For seniors, this exposure
of privacy seems not only counterproductive, but unreasonable,
especially when you don’t know the person on the other
side of the screen. This of course can be a huge barrier when
these seniors are asked to make the move over to health apps,
which may ask for their weight, height, and medical conditions.
As our baby boomer population
begins to reach the age for Medicare benefits, it’s important
that they are aware of the benefits of going online. While health
apps aren’t designed – yet – to replace your
primary doctor, they can help to keep track of what medications
you’re using and even reminding you to take them, while
also helping to keep track of your ailments.
To go along with this,
new technology has given way to the personal robot (sorry, just
Robbie, no 3PO or Data yet); these robots are being constructed
for the simple purpose of allowing for seniors to age in their
home with some minimal assistance, like medication reminders
and companionship. These robots aren’t meant to replace
the actual presence of a person (at least, not until the Data
versions come out), but to give them the companionship akin
to say, owning a pet.
There are of course
those who see no good coming from this, owning to the fact that
technology cannot and should not replace that of the communication
benefits of speaking with a real live person. Granted, the idea
seems to be akin to speaking to your computer every day, however
for many seniors, being able to speak to a real live person
every day isn’t conceivable; what about those who have
dementia or Alzheimer’s? What about those who are hard
of hearing or have a level of vision loss?
As with everything in
life, the use of technology can be a great boon when used correctly
and in moderation.
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2012 by Regina
- Article by Regina
Woodard exclusively for Assisted Living Directory