Technology is, in many ways, its own life force. It is changing the way we interact with the world and the way the world interacts with us. Perhaps most notably, technology is changing the way the aging population is navigating the world today. Technology has an important role in the lives of senior citizens. So important, in fact, that technology is changing the very face of the aging process.
Aging in Place
Aging in place, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), is the concept of growing old and passing away in one’s own home. Many seniors are actively worried about having to live out the rest of their days in a nursing home environment. Part of the allure of aging in place is the comfort that comes with being in one’s own home. Another part of the allure is that technology is now making aging in place a possibility for those that wouldn’t have had the option in the past.
Aging in place experts associated with AARP have stated that technology has made it possible for people with even limited mobility, sight or hearing, to remain in their homes for the better part of their lives, surrounded by their belongings and their loved ones.
According to the Center for Technology and Aging, there are four ways the technology has changed the face of aging. The technological advancements include advancements in the sector of safety and security, home health and wellness, communication and learning and social contribution.
Safety and Security
Technological advancements in the sector of safety and security have moved forward in leaps and bounds. Today, there are a variety of tools that the elderly can use to ensure they are safe and secure in their homes for many years. Security systems, web cams and built in communication systems can protect the elderly from intruders as well as home health issues. Web cams and communication systems can also help family feel more secure about leaving an elderly family member home alone.
Home Health and Wellness
Health management apps and systems can help ensure the elderly are reminded to take medications and to deal with their personal health on a daily basis. MHealth, for example, can help the elderly keep track of their overall wellness, and the portal can allow access to another family member who can monitor all situations.
Socially, the elderly population has long been considered isolated. Because many are unable to move around as easily as everyone else, those who stayed in the home often went long stretches of time without engaging with the community at large. Online education, chat, e-mail and increased phone availability have now made it possible for the elderly to stay connected within their community and actively seek out activities that will ensure their overall well-being.
Perhaps the largest category when discussing technology and its impact on the elderly is communication. There are more ways to communicate with the outside world than ever before, and the engagement helps to keep the mind sharp and the elderly feeling like they have a solid quality of life for longer than ever before. Cell phones serve multiple purposes in this space. They ensure that the elderly population can not only reach out to those around them for social calls, but their very presence ensures that the ability to make emergency calls is always within arm’s reach. Email and social media helps to connect the community with family and friends who are scattered across the nation, fostering closer bonds and better relationships overall.
For years we have witnessed the way technology is shaping and changing our lives, but we often forget that the elderly population is in the thick of the revolution, too. Technology can be used as a powerful tool to help the aging population stay safe and connected for as long as they wish to stay in their homes.