Remember when the most technologically advanced thing you had to do was program your VCR?
That wasn’t so long ago. But today, we live in a world filled with (and dependent upon) gadgets and gizmos. They can be difficult to understand, but ultimately beneficial when it comes to staying in touch with family, expanding horizons and possibly even improving mental health.
For some seniors, new technology can be intimidating. But most of those who use it have found it to be an important part of their lives. Nearly three-quarters of seniors who use the Internet say they are online every day, according to Pew Research’s Tech Adoptions Among Older Adults, which also reported that 58 percent of adults ages 65 and older say technology has had a mostly positive impact on society.
Whether it’s a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, new technology offers ways for seniors to enhance their lives.
According to recent data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, about a third of all seniors report being lonely.
“Research shows that chronic loneliness can impact older adults’ memory, physical well-being, mental health, and life expectancy,” according to the authors of the study. “In fact, some research suggests that chronic loneliness may shorten life expectancy even more than being overweight or sedentary, and just as much as smoking. It is also possible for health problems to contribute to feelings of loneliness. For example, hearing loss or mobility limitations may decrease opportunities for social interaction and increase feelings of loneliness.”
Seniors who use technology can stay in touch with family and friends through email, texting and video chats, which are especially helpful when they want to frequently see loved ones who live far away.
While many seniors still enjoy working crossword puzzles or playing board games, computers, smart phones and tablets offer lots of games and brain teasers that can keep them mentally active. Games like Tetris, Words With Friends, Solitaire, Angry Birds and others are entertaining but also challenging. There are even games that allow them to build jigsaw puzzles.
Whether it’s exercise, sleep or diet, there are plenty of apps such as MapMyWalk, Sleep Cycle or SideChef that can help. Tracking these things on apps can help seniors to set goals and work toward achieving them.
Link to the past
Even a phone or tablet with relatively limited memory can store thousands of photos. In lieu of stacks of photo albums, seniors may opt to keep memories on a device so small they can carry it in their pocket. They can also save pictures sent via text or email from children or grandchildren. And they can document visits with pictures or video that will brighten days when friends or family are unable to visit.