For a generation that probably still remembers the excitement of gathering around the giant family television set to watch one of four channels (ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS) on a black and white screen, it is no wonder the ability to navigate smartphones, Apple watches and tablets may be more than a bit intimidating.
But technological advances haven’t just improved our entertainment options; they have also improved our health options. While the old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Life Alert bracelet commercials may have become pop culture joke; the need for remote assistance for seniors is actually a growing market. The U.S. Census Bureau states the population of senior citizens could double to 84 million people by 2050 and an increasing number of technology companies have taken notice.
According to an interview with NBC News, Marjorie Skubic, director of the University of Missouri’s Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology, says, “There was a stereotype earlier that seniors weren’t interested in technology” but “seniors are willing to embrace technology as long as it has a function that’s helpful to them.” Therefore, it is likely wildly popular social media apps such as Snapchat or Twitter might not be a be draw to the senior set, senior-friendly cell phones, tablets and other digital devices have their appeal.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 59 percent of American adults age 65 and older used the Internet in 2014 and 77 percent used a cell phone.
Looking for another option beyond an emergency pendant or the complicated and expensive smart watches, such as the Apple Watch, Iggy Fanlo, 53, CEO and co-founder of Lively, came up with a solution. A simple, waterproof watch that features a large digital display of the time, can count your steps and offers users the option to call for help by pressing a big, orange button along the side of the watch face.
Lively told Today.com his watch is designed specifically to look similar to other smart watches. “Nothing about it screams ‘medical device.’ Seniors aren’t any different from everyone else. Whether you’re eight or 88, you still want nice things.”
Other popular products redesigned for seniors include the grandPad, a modified Android tablet with simple user interface and live member support and SingFit a karaoke-type program to keep older adults mentally engaged. Used as a type of music therapy in more than 50 senior citizen centers around the U.S., SingFit speaks song lyrics out loud in plain language before the users sing the lyrics, allowing individuals with cognitive conditions, such as dementia, or vision problems, to participate.
Encouraging older adults to stay physically, mentally and socially engaged can help prevent feelings of depression and isolation – problems all too common in the elderly. With more and more tech gadgets hitting the market everyday, opportunities to help your aging loved ones remain independent, healthy and active also increase. But if the time has come when your aging loved one is no longer able to live independently, please contact the knowledgeable staff at ElderLink to help you find elder care services or an assisted living facility within California that is customized for your family.