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The average life expectancy has increased across much of the world during the past few decades owing to a variety of factors. In the developed world, countries such as Japan have an ageing population estimated to be as much as a quarter of the populace. This has led to a rise in the demand for services and goods that slow down the ageing process, creating a thriving and still-expanding industry. One might ask, “Why is technology important for older adults?” Is technology improving people’s quality of life? How does technology affect older adults? Previously, minimal emphasis was placed on making the ageing process much more bearable. The common practice was to ship ageing parents and grandparents to nursing homes as soon as they reached retirement.
There is a growing desire among older people approaching retirement to age in their homes. Previously, minimal emphasis was placed on making the ageing process much more bearable. The common practice was to ship ageing parents and grandparents to nursing homes as soon as they retired. This might not have been an option a few years ago due to work schedules and family structure. For example, in the case of smaller homes with stairs, carpeted floors, and tight spaces, it would be hard to move around in them for anyone who might use mobility tools like walkers or wheelchairs. Newer technologies now offer a solution that might help remove some of these pain points and ensure that older people are comfortable wherever they live.
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The current generation of baby boomers was the first group to consider buying labour-saving devices like toasters and washing machines. Therefore, the confidence that they will be fine alone is not in short supply. Gradual advances in these first technologies have developed much to a stage that makes this possible; look at the robot vacuum or the handheld bagless one in the current Woolworths catalogue. Both of these devices can help anyone keep their own space clean. These labour-saving devices are only at the beginning of the process. There are other factors to consider that can be packaged into the five sections below that technology needs to serve for our seniors to be comfortable on their own.
An improvement in home life would best serve seniors who decide to age in place. This is often the first step in improving the quality of life and delaying the need for hospice or palliative care in old people’s homes. Adding safety and security features to some devices makes them exceptional at taking care of senior family members. They can be connected to the internet and allow better monitoring and control for caregivers and family members without hovering. A smart-home network can also help pick up on any irregularities and be proactive in ensuring safety, as with air quality sensors, thermostats, and smoke sensors.
Most seniors want to be able to move independently. However, at advanced ages, driving often becomes a hazard and is scary with the increasing number of drivers every year. Fortunately, alternative solutions are now available. With technology such as ride-sharing apps, moving around is now more possible. Delivery services have also stepped up to help limit avoidable trips. In addition, there are also pieces of technology that could assist on a much more personal level. There are now better and stronger pacemakers and hearing aids. These can be monitored and tracked using your mobile device, with the option of sharing information with key family members, caregivers, and physicians.
Naturally, as seniors grow older, their social lives tend to become narrower. Despite that, social media adoption has been noted to be on the rise in older groups. The use of Facebook by users aged 65+ has been noted as the fastest-growing age group on the platform. Many other apps can serve for social connection, some that help find love and a few that help grandparents to connect better with younger family members.
Modern technology can also aid seniors’ healthy living by using modern technologies like wearables, smart devices, trackers, and voice-controlled artificial intelligence pieces. The technology itself is not new but has been gradually developed from being multiple little pieces that were clunky and disliked because they stood out as gadgets for older people. However, these have now been packaged into one nicely made device, such as the Apple watch, which can help monitor all the wearers’ vitals and location and even alert medical services and caregivers if needed.
Mobile applications are being developed with seniors in mind. Most now have easy access and viewing. Some apps make it easier to pair a device, such as a hearing aid, and enable voice commands, removing the need for seniors to navigate complex settings or finicky buttons. In other cases, new technologies like VR headsets, like those from Embodied Labs by Carrie Shaw, have been incorporated as a way to relax seniors and teach their younger caregivers to understand how a person diagnosed with diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s experiences the world. This boosts empathy and helps caregivers be more patient.
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Advances in technology are being tailored towards improving the experience of older people. Allowing them the opportunity to move around by themselves with the same, if not better, convenience than before gives them the sense of power and control they need. It also takes care of all the other possible problem areas and allows them to find better ways to serve their families and communities. Sometimes, this will enable them to travel and live their best lives.
Despite many popular options to make the ageing process more comfortable, there are also a few preventative options that one can explore before old age. Many apps help improve memory retention and encourage better mental health. This, in turn, helps decrease the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other conditions. Many people hail wearable devices for having picked up on possible issues for people vulnerable to high blood pressure and dangerous health situations. Adopting these and other measures could help monitor and prevent severe health conditions through early detection and encouragement toward healthier options.