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Can Technology Present A Heatlh Benefit To Seniors?

 
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Can Technology Present Healthy Benefits to Seniors?

Regina WoodardSummary: 53% of those 65 and older were using the Internet, and many seniors are embracing technology and computers. Although some seniors are reluctant to embrace technology, computers and the internet, there are some very obvious health benefits that can be gained by embracing your techy side.
Author:
exclusively for Assisted Living Directory

Regina is a contributor for Assisted Living Directory


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.Seniors using technology and the internet

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.

Health 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.

This 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 music device.

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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- Article by Regina Woodard exclusively for Assisted Living Directory

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