Staying Independent: Smart Speakers for Seniors

The US Census Bureau reports that the 65 and older population grew faster than any other demographic group between 2000 and 2010. Today, seniors are living longer and expecting more from their twilight years. Unquestionably, they are redefining the purpose and meaning of aging.

According to an AARP survey, an astounding 90% of seniors favor independent living. What’s more, they welcome the role of smart technology in facilitating this goal. Today, high-tech monitoring systems such as smart speakers are giving seniors the ability to preserve their valued independence.

Staying Independent: Smart Speakers for Seniors

What Smart Speakers Can Do For Seniors

Today’s smarts speakers are state-of-the-art tools. There are no wires, electrical plugs, or microphones to manage. Therefore, they are perfect for seniors who suffer from arthritis or other joint diseases. The speakers operate by voice commands. Once the activation word is spoken, the smart speakers can hear and respond to queries. This means that seniors can make requests from the comfort of their beds or couches.

Seniors can choose between Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Apple’s Siri. The choice of a digital assistant will depend upon personal preferences.

Today’s smart speakers can activate lights, change thermostat settings, or even turn off the oven. They can also remind seniors to take their medications, pay their bills, or check their stock portfolios. Seniors who have failing eyesight can rely on smart speakers to read their favorite novels to them. Most importantly, family members can monitor their loved ones remotely. In the event of an emergency, smart speakers can initiate 911 calls and alert the proper authorities.

So, which smart speakers for seniors should you purchase? Here are 3 industry recommendations that may interest you.

Top Smart Speakers for Seniors

Sonos One is Wired’s top choice for “best overall speaker.” It’s affordable, has excellent sound quality, and can connect to over 65 music and audio services. It also supports Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and connects to many smart home devices.

Next, Wired ranks the JBL Link 20 as the “best portable speaker.” It’s waterproof, has a ten-hour battery, and is compatible with a number of streaming services and Google apps. This means that seniors can enjoy evergreen music through Youtube, Pandora, or Spotify. The JBL Link 20 also features Google Assistant, which plays Netflix shows and answers questions with expert authority.

The Wired choice for “best smart speaker with a screen” is the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon Echo plays Amazon Prime videos and daily news briefings. It also shows the lyrics to some Amazon Music tracks, and best of all, it supports video calls. This means that seniors can stay connected to their loved ones on a regular basis.

So, how do you like these choices? If you’d like more information about independent living and aging in place, we’re happy to help.

Our health professionals can make recommendations about smart technology and ways to help your loved ones retain their independence as they navigate their twilight years. For more information about quality senior services, contact us. We’re happy to answer all of your questions. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

 

How Technology Can Help Seniors

There is an unsubstantiated assumption that seniors are not capable of understanding new technology. However, 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. Moreover, 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.

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.

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.

Social Networking for Seniors?

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 Adopting

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 adopt. And, yes, the occasional skeptical attitude doesn’t help either.

Classes & Accommodations for Adopters

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.

  • 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. Furthermore, 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.