More seniors than ever are learning about and using technology in their everyday lives. As they engage with these new technologies, we continue to understand how we can use them to benefit our community members.
Helping our community members learn how to use technology effectively is one of our priorities as caregiving professionals. Understanding the benefits of technology use among seniors better equips us to put resources in place to empower them to engage with it independently.
Technology Use Among Seniors
Technology use by seniors has been on the rise in recent years. In 2012, only 13% of seniors said they owned a smartphone, and 16% said they use social media. Those numbers rose to 61% and 45% in 2021, respectively.
Many seniors feel the overwhelming effects of the “digital divide” and may be unmotivated to learn new ways of communicating. However, a growing number of them are seeing the benefits of adapting to new technologies. While many seniors may be unfamiliar with the exact ways the internet functions, they can still greatly benefit from engaging with it.
Benefits of Technology
What are the benefits associated with this increased technology use? There are plenty of them, and they’re widespread in their effectiveness.
Accessing the internet through smartphones, tablets, or computers is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression and increased social support. Socialization is one of the leading ways seniors can take care of their mental health and reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
Some key examples of technology benefiting seniors when it comes to socialization are applications like FaceTime and Zoom. These technologies allow seniors to connect with their loved ones even when divided.
We saw how much our community members benefited from these applications through the COVID-19 pandemic when they couldn’t see their families in person. Reducing loneliness is a crucial part of maintaining seniors’ mental health and wellness.
Health & Wellness
Tele-health technologies greatly benefit seniors who need to speak with a caregiver or doctor regularly. Depending on a person’s needs, health care professionals can often customize tele-health technologies to the most impactful use for each individual.
For those who need more visual resources instead of simply speaking with the doctor on the phone, telehealth technology can help. Doctors can share charts, diagrams, and data to help senior citizens fully understand and manage their health with as much knowledge as possible right at their fingertips.
Healthcare technologies also help caregivers monitor seniors’ health and provide the highest level of care possible. Enuresis sensors, bed occupancy detectors, and heart-rate monitors are just some examples of health-related technologies that increase our capacity to care for our community members.
Notes that automatically populate, location-based reminders, and shared calendars are just some of the ways seniors can use technology to stay organized. Many applications they can use on a smartphone can provide them with that extra bit of help they need to remain independent.
For example, some seniors can use notes that let them categorize and check off items at the grocery store. Reminders can help them stay on top of their daily medications and chores to keep them engaged and healthy.
Safety & Security
Keeping senior citizens safe, especially when they may experience diminished health, is another way technology helps. People with memory loss conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can become confused and disoriented. This disorientation can increase their chance of getting lost, seriously affecting their health and putting them in danger.
Location-sharing is available on most phones, which allows caregivers and loved ones to check in with a person to ensure they haven’t lost their way.
Another way technology keeps senior citizens safe, especially in senior living communities, is keypad entries to units. These keypads are more secure than traditional methods and give community members peace of mind when they leave for the day or return to their homes.
Empowering Seniors with Technology
Technology can help seniors live more independently, be safer, and gain more insight into their own health and wellness. As more of the senior population adopts technology, finding ways to apply it to their needs will become vital to supporting them, especially in senior living communities.
Technology use is a pillar of our dedicated service to our community members. At Distinctive Living, we’ve already taken steps to integrate technology into our care approach. We’ve integrated Applications like EMAR, Electronic Charting, Electronic Service Planning, and Care Partners Tasks, into our daily care, with more on the way.