With modern technology constantly advancing, it can be hard to keep up. This is especially true for many older people who weren't brought up with all the gadgets we see today. According to 2019 statistics, 40% of people over 65 own a smartphone, while 47% of people over the age of 75 use the internet.
Most young people think of technology as second nature, since they've grown up surrounded by it. The elderly on the other hand can be apprehensive, as they may not realise the immense benefit it can have. After all, they've already lived long and happy lives without the need to update Facebook or Instagram with their most recent meal.
Although we may not think our elderly loved ones are interested in technology, there are certainly more people over the age of 65 trying it out. One care home in Cardiff decided to encourage their residents to use technology by asking primary school children to teach them about it. The pupils, aged between nine and 11, have spent their years surrounded by technology and so found it easy to teach, and the residents enjoyed the technology and the social interaction.
There has been a rise in the amount of over-75s using tablets, and the use of smartphones within this group has almost doubled in recent years. The elderly are even getting social, with around 3 million people aged over 65 in the UK signing up for a Facebook account.
With all this said, the elderly still spend far less time online than the younger generations, with many feeling intimidated and having no plans to ever use a smartphone or surf the internet.
Why should my loved one use technology?
As the common phrase goes, 'don't knock it until you've tried it'. Yes, the older generation may have lived without technology for the majority of their lives, but that doesn't mean they won't enjoy it or find it useful! There are plenty of advances in technology nowadays that the younger generation have lived without until now - I have recently acquired an electrical can-opener (something that has in fact been around since the 1930s) and now I can't imagine my life without it!
Technology can have endless benefits for people of all ages, especially the older generation. From FaceTime to Personal Alarms, there are many aspects of life which technology can improve. As well as the internet and smartphones, Telehealth technology has also improved over the years...Our Personal Alarm service is just the beginning!
We're going to break down the different types of modern technology which could help give your loved one a better quality of life.
A fitness tracker can help you record your daily activity, or that of a loved one. They are usually worn around the wrist, much like our Careline button. You can then connect a fitness tracker to a smartphone app or computer programme, which will display daily statistics such as:
- Heart rate.
- The number of steps you take.
- Calories you have burnt.
We are all aware of how staying healthy and active can be beneficial, especially in later life when overall health can decline. A fitness tracker can encourage an increase in activity and healthier living. Your loved one may enjoy the fact that they can see how many steps they've taken that day, or how much exercise they've done. This can then motivate them to do more steps the next day and slowly increase their physical activity over time.
The internet was first introduced into homes in the 1980s. It links millions of devices together, allowing us to communicate quickly and easily. As the world wide web has been around for less than 40 years, it's not something that everyone has grown up with, which can make it difficult for beginners to understand. The internet can certainly offer a world of new opportunities to the elderly.
An internet connection gives you access to millions of websites, apps, programs, videos and more. For example, your loved one could benefit from:
- Exercise - YouTube has a wide range of videos which include fitness. Your loved one could stay active without leaving the comfort of their front room.
- Video chatting - Stay connected to friends and family members via video chat.
- Shopping - Supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's offer delivery services. There's no need to go out to do the weekly shop anymore.... think of all the time saved!
- Staying social - Social networking sites can help your loved one reconnect with old friends.
- Games - Gaming websites and apps can help keeping the brain active and lifting spirits.
- Health tracking - There are a wide variety of apps available to help track exercise and nutrition, and some that can even offer medication reminders! PillBoxie lets you create your own medication schedule and notifies you when you need to take them!
- Finances - Online banking is simpler than ever. Why not organise your finances in one place?
The internet can help with loneliness through social media, boredom through games, apps and brainteaser and stress through meditation videos and advice, there are endless possibilities here.
Getting started with the internet is a great way to encourage your loved one to use technology, as a lot of the younger generation communicate more via Facebook or email. Set them up with an account and let them know how easy it is to get in touch with their grandchildren or how nice it is to see regularly updated photos of loved ones via social media.
An 'app' (short for application) is a piece of software or programme that you can use online. There are millions of apps available for your smartphone or tablet. There are even apps that are especially tailored for senior citizens.
Why not start with something simple like Skype or FaceTime? Show your family member how easy it is for them to call you and see your face whilst talking!
PillBoxie is an app which offers medication reminders, something that could be really helpful for your elderly loved one or even for yourself if you're particularly forgetful. As well as this, there are apps such as Park-N-Find which remembers where you've parked using in-built GPS, if you find your parent or grandparent regularly loses their car in a car park they can simply press a button and their smartphone will tell them where their car is. No more wandering aimlessly!
As our parents and grandparents get older, health can be a worry. At times, we may find ourselves checking up on them unnecessarily. This is where an app can come in handy. There are plenty of options out there, from ordinary fitness apps to ones that are specifically tailored towards the older generations.
Senior Fitness Home Workouts is designed for the over-50s, focusing on improving basic fitness levels. If your loved one is especially adventurous you could even get them a FitBit, a wrist-worn fitness tracker which issues reminders to move around every hour, records heart rate, calorie intake and sleep patterns. It can even create challenges via its app. With this in mind, if you've got one as well, you could find yourself racing to do more steps than your elderly family member! There's nothing like a bit of healthy competition!
Technology really gives us a world of entertainment at our fingertips and, as most older people are retired, they may find themselves with lots of free time on their hands. Luckily, there are lots of film, television, music and gaming apps to choose from. Here are some of the most popular:
If your loved one is looking for some nostalgia, streaming apps usually have a wide choice of film and television across the years. Starting with something familiar can help make the technology seem less foreign - play an old favourite song or film on a smart phone or tablet and your family member will associate that lovely memory of hearing it for the first time with the technology!
A smartphone or tablet puts the internet, apps and much more in the palm of your loved one's hand. Since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, a craze of smartphones and tablets has swept across the world and, in some cases, people are using them more than standard computers.
As a device that is the in-between to smartphones and desktop computers, tablets are especially good for the elderly because of their larger screens. They have similar capabilities to computers but are far more compact and lots quicker; some even come with the option of a detachable keyboard and are tablet-laptop hybrids.
Tablets are generally more affordable than computers too, making them more accessible. They don't weigh much either, which is beneficial to older people who might be affected by arthritis and struggle holding heavier objects. Tablets are great for playing games, watching films and television on demand and surfing the web. They have become much more affordable recently, and there are more to choose from than just the Apple iPad.
As more traditional landline phones are becoming less and less common, mobile and smartphones are increasingly important. There are lots to choose from, depending on your needs and confidence with technology. Most manufacturers, such as Nokia and Samsung, offer simple models with large buttons, which may be more suitable for your loved one. On the other hand, if they're wanting a smartphone, the iPhone will always be a popular choice.
A smartphone or tablet can do almost anything. Therefore, they're a great way for seniors to stay safe while they're out and about. However, we know it can be difficult to get the older generation on board! Be sure to highlight all the benefits of the technology while you're introducing it. Why not try enlisting help from younger family members by asking them to demonstrate how things work. A mobile phone is beneficial for everyone, as it means your loved one can always contact you and call for help if they need it whilst out and about!
Telehealth devices enhance healthcare by providing support. One fantastic device is our Careline personal alarm. We understand the importance of staying safe and living independently at home for as long as possible. That's why our alarm and choice of standard pendant or fall detector offers 24/7 support. If you'd like more information about our alarm, you can find everything you need to know here.
There are other types of technology which would complement our alarm very nicely, here are some examples:
- Mobility Scooters - A great option if your loved one struggles to walk for long periods of time, but still wants to go out and about with the family. These scooters can be helpful for elderly people who suffer with osteoporosis or arthritis.
- Electric Wheelchairs - Similar to the mobility scooter, an electric wheelchair is a great option for those who can't walk as far as they once could. This means that your loved one can still enjoy leaving the house but has the independence of getting around by themselves.
- Big Button Phones - Much like a standard telephone but with larger buttons, big button phones are excellent for anyone suffering with arthritis, Parkinson's or any other medical condition which can affect motor skills.
- Stair Lifts - If your loved one is at risk of falling, a stair lift is a great option to avoid accidents or injuries while going up and down the stairs.
- Automatic Pill Dispensers - Ideal for those who have issues with their memory or suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's.
Introduce your loved one to technology!
This can be the tricky part. Change is scary! For example, after happily cooking from a recipe book for 50 years, why would your loved one suddenly want to start using the internet instead? Well, let us tell you! There's online recipes, video tutorials and personal blogs of budding chefs who dream of having their own cookbook! The internet is home to things you would never find by hitting the local high street, so why not show them that?
Here are some things to remember when introducing new technology:
- Go slowly and be patient - Technology is daunting for new users. There's a lot to it, so make sure you're patient and understanding.
- Explain the basics - Teach the simple things first and then let them play around on their own - they might learn better by figuring things out for themselves!
- Mistakes help learning - If one of our alarm users presses their alarm button accidentally, it's not a problem at all. In any case, our Monitoring Team will always answer and make sure the user is safe. The user can explain that it's a false alarm, and we'll be happy to hear that all is well.
- It won't break - Make sure your loved one knows they're not going to break anything. A lot of senior citizens are scared of trying technology as their worried they'll just break it, but with a bit of teaching they'll be a pro in no time!
Introducing technology may seem intimidating, but we hope we have given you the tools and options you need to improve your loved one's quality of life! Above all the technology mentioned, we want to encourage the use of a personal alarm. We understand the day-to-day challenges older people face, so we strive to offer the best service at the best possible price.
If you're interested in ordering one of our life-saving Careline Alarms, please do get in touch with one of our helpful team members on 0800 101 3333. Alternatively, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.