By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community
Despite easily available evidence to the contrary, there is a persistent myth in our culture that seniors don’t do technology. The reality is that a majority of people over sixty-five have cell phones, use the internet, and use at least some form of social media. Seniors aren’t merely more tech savvy than people assume, they actively want the technology in their homes to be current. It’s important for senior living communities to keep their capabilities up to date and incorporate the latest technologies into their design.
Computer and technology centers are becoming more and more essential parts of senior living communities. Computers provide a way for seniors to keep in touch with their loved ones, catch up on news, work on personal projects, manage their finances and more.
Wireless internet has gone from a luxury to a necessity. While having access to a desktop or laptop computer allows for more in-depth interactions, more and more people are accessing the internet through cell phones and tablet computers. Indeed, the simple interfaces and easy portability of these devices often make them the preferred devices by many seniors who don’t need or want the complexity of a desktop PC.
For many seniors the reason they avoid technology isn’t because they aren’t interested, but because they need patient instruction. At the Reutlinger Community, we have volunteers and speakers who help seniors learn instead of mocking their lack of prior knowledge.
There are numerous benefits to giving seniors access to modern technology.
Some seniors live hundreds, even thousands of miles away from their families who live in different time zones and can’t readily interact in real time. E-mail and social media make it quick and easy to communicate whether it be about the latest 49ers game, holidays, family events or even just the weather. Programs like Skype and Facetime allow face to face communication across the country and even the world. Engagement is often said to be as important to graceful aging as keeping your body healthy.
Mental and Physical Health
There are numerous video games that provide both physical and mental benefits. The Nintendo Wii console, for example, offers simulated sports activities like tennis, bowling and golf which allow for physical exertion in a fun and safe environment at home or with friends. Other games help with hand-eye coordination, spatial recognition, fact recall, memory and more. Even better, many games can be played online with family and friends, stacking social benefits on top of mental and physical benefits.
While at the Reutlinger Community, we are able to take a hands-on approach to medication management, many seniors must manage on their own. There are numerous apps that can help seniors (and anyone else) track their medication use to prevent over or under-dosing. Learning how to use these apps can have a significant impact on a senior’s overall health.
Many seniors have access to a PERS or a Personal Emergency Response System that allows them to summon medical help with the touch of a button. Other useful emergency technologies include GPS devices or global positioning systems that help seniors locate where they are and get directions to where they are going. These GPS systems can be linked to alert systems so that caregivers can easily find seniors when they need our help.
To learn more about how technology helps seniors and how we handle it in an assisted living environment, please visit our website at rcjl.org or call us at 925-648-2800.