How Technology Can Help Seniors

There is an unsubstantiated assumption that seniors are not capable of understanding new technology. We think it’s time to challenge that way of thinking. Today’s post is all about acknowledging just how much technology can help seniors, and why we should help them integrate new technology into their lives.

Shot of a senior man using his digital tablet while relaxing at home, use of technology to improve quality of life

Technology offers an array of important benefits which apply directly to seniors. In fact, there are a number of devices that specifically cater to the needs of the elderly. If we don’t encourage seniors to use technology, we run the risk of denying them a world of support and a diminished quality of life.

 

Yes, Technology Can Help Seniors

There are many new devices that can support seniors’ health and safety. Missing medications is a thing of the past. We can now use digital pill dispensers and pill alarms to ensure accurate and full dosage compliance. Seniors can also benefit from voice-activated reminders that track meals, medicine, and appointments. Another useful piece of tech? Personal Emergency Response Systems. These simple devices ensure that help is available at all times in the event of an emergency. All of these tools are vital ways to help keep seniors safe and independent for as long as possible.

Did you know that technology can also improve seniors’ social connections? According to a study at Michigan State University, seniors who used social networking sites experienced decreases in loneliness, lower rates of depression, and better health. For people with limited mobility, social networking is a powerful way to reduce their isolation (see our previous post Using Technology to Eliminate Loneliness in the Elderly).

 

Barriers to Adapting

Learning to navigate the world of technology can be intimidating for seniors. Sadly, Pew Research found that only 13% of seniors who do not currently use digital devices feel comfortable learning to use them on their own. Additionally, seniors deal with physical challenges, such as poor eyesight or arthritis that limit their capacity to adapt. And, yes, the occasional skeptical attitude doesn’t help either.

The younger generation such as children and grandchildren may be able to help. However, it can be difficult to learn challenging new ideas from your children, so it helps to get outside instruction. A great way to help seniors recognize the potential value of new technology is to find classes. Most libraries and senior centers offer free technology classes to seniors (see our previous post Tackling Technology with the Elderly).

There are many adaptations available to make digital devices accessible for people with physical disabilities. For example, voice commands can eliminate the need to type, and changing font size can make screens more readable. Also, many seniors find tablets easier to use than desktop computers, and their screen is a more comfortable size than a smartphone’s.

 

 

David York Agency is Here to Help

Helping seniors across the digital divide can be tough, but the benefits outweigh the difficulties. Home healthcare aides may even be able to help by walking their patients through the functions of new devices. A home aide can also review what has been learned on a daily basis, helping each lesson “stick.” If we can help support the seniors in your life as they navigate the challenges of aging, please contact us. Our skilled and caring aides strive to provide personalized attention to every client.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

For more reading on the topic, see Anita Kamiel's article:
The Elderly, The Internet & Social Media

Assistive Computer Technology for the Elderly

With more and more of the elderly using technology, especially our aging Baby Boomers, assistive computer technology can go a long way in helping those whose abilities begin to wane. There are very useful options like automation, voice commands, and dictation, for those in need of assistive technology. These could make otherwise difficult tasks much easier. Elderly assistive technology is a hot area of innovation.

assistive technology

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a category of devices that assists those with limited physical and sometimes cognitive abilities. It can even help them perform certain activities of daily living (ADLs). These often come into play for seeing and hearing. Below are some elderly assistive technology devices for an easier internet experience.

Apple

Apple has made several assistive technologies and customization options standard in its operating system – from the simple, like choosing higher-contrast color combinations to the more complex, like a sophisticated text-to-speech tool. Below are some of the tools available on Apple products that can aid the elderly who begin to experience visual, hearing and motor challenges.

  • VoiceOver is a screen reader or text-to-speech tool that comes standard with every Mac. This tool allows the user to fully interact with the computer, using gestures, a keyboard, or a Braille display as it reads what is on your screen.
  • Zoom is a built-in magnifier. It allows the user to enlarge the screen better by magnifying the display up to 20 times its original size.
  • Dictation, as the name suggests, lets users talk where they would normally type. Users can reply to email messages, search the internet, or even dictate in documents using just their voice.
  • Inverting Colors is a simple way to allow for better on-screen comprehension and recognition, because a higher contrast helps users better see what’s on the display. Once colors are determined, settings apply system-wide, allowing for a uniform experience in every app and program.

Microsoft

Microsoft products offer similar options in many of their products, through its Ease of Access Center. Centrally located on Microsoft computers, this file allows users to set up the accessibility settings and programs available in Windows. Programs to assist in accessibility on Microsoft machines are similar to those of Apple:

  • Speech Recognition
  • Narrator
  • High-contrast and customizable display settings
  • Filter Keys which can steady a user’s hand by ignoring brief or repeated keystrokes made accidentally, as in the case of a tremulous or shaky hand, which could be extremely useful for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Worth noting, Microsoft also has a database of information and tutorials online, dedicated to specific operating systems such as Windows XP, and programs like Office and Internet Explorer, as well as PDF entitled, A Guide to Transitioning to Windows 7 for People with Disabilities.

As computers become increasingly easy to use, accessible technologies will continue to improve. Consequently, it will be easier for people of all abilities to communicate.

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At David York Agency, we understand that caregiving is a process that demands compassion, caring, patience & expertise. Our office staff is up-to-date with the latest technology and caregiver techniques. We are ready and available whenever you decide to begin service. If you would like more information about home health aides, please contact us at 718.376.7755 or www.davidyorkagency.com and visit our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages.