Technology has drastically changed our lives in the last couple of years and it is only going to get bigger and better. The convenience and ease it brings definitely made life easy. With the baby boomer population on the rise, many companies are introducing technology-based solutions in health care, home care and other related spheres that can greatly improve a senior’s life. For these reasons technology is especially beneficial to older adults.
Let’s look at some innovations of the Digital Age and their benefits:
1. Internet: The internet has given seniors a means to get to know the world. Whether it is getting the latest news or learning about interesting new things, it is an incredible resource for lifelong learning. Popular search engines and video portals are often visited by seniors for How-To tutorials, exercise routines and world cuisine recipes. They enjoy using the internet as a reliable source of information.
2. Social Media: The age of Social Media for seniors means being able to keep in touch with loved ones beyond boundaries. When you are in your second innings, life is not as happening and with everyone else busy with their schedules, loneliness can creep in. Although social media cannot replace face to face interactions, it has to some extent combated loneliness. A popular social media site has recently seen a silver surge on their platform with 7 million Indian users above the age of 50. And this is a great sign of Social Media acceptance amongst the senior community.
3. Apps & Sites: Several everyday Apps can make life really easy for seniors. Payment apps can ease the burden of standing in long lines to pay bills. Apps for booking cabs, hotels, tickets, etc. give great deals with convenience and time-saving. Sites for online shopping be it garments, electronics or groceries can save seniors a trip to a crowded mall.
4. Artificial Intelligence: AI-based virtual assistants that are voice activated have become a very helpful tool for seniors. Turning off a light bulb by mere voice instruction can be a significant improvement for seniors with mobility issues. AI-based games can keep the mind active and keep degenerative mental diseases at bay. AI controlled robots can provide assistance, monitoring and companionship to seniors.
5. Devices: IoT devices and smart wearable will transform many industries and most definitely healthcare. Self-health monitoring and reporting is an important requirement for seniors and keeps their loved ones at ease. These devices can monitor heart rate, steps taken, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. Since many seniors live by themselves, investing in smart security and smart devices for their homes can be very useful.
6. Virtual Reality: VR can open up a new world of experiences that many times seniors are not able to get to. Because of mobility issues, medical reasons and financial constraints, seniors are restricted when it comes to freely travelling the world or engaging in thrilling experiences. VR could help seniors’ breakaway from these shackles. Seniors can relive their memories by experiencing things from the past or make new memories by trying out new things. VR is known to have a positive effect on the mind of users and hence is also used for patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Older adults often fall under the Laggards or Late Adopters in the Rogers Adoption Curve but the sooner they adopt new innovation, the easier their lives will get. Learning new technology is not easy for seniors and can be intimidating at first. They are open to learning but require time and a helping hand. With patience and support seniors will definitely adopt new technology and live happier independent lives.
(The author is the founder and CEO of new-age technology startup Empowerji app which provides services to empower senior citizens by bridging the gap between older adults and technology adoption.)