Seniors and Technology

  • By Linda Hudwalker Bowman
  • 23 Oct, 2017
Seniors using technology to stay connected to loved ones

The Rise of the Technologically-Savvy Senior

Historically, seniors have used technology less often than their younger counterparts. However, recent research from the Pew Research Center  reports that those age 65 and older are beginning to catch up. Four years ago, only 18 percent of seniors had smartphones. Today that number has risen to 42 percent. Likewise, internet usage and home broadband adoption has increased among this age group by 55 percent since 2013.

Older adults are also the fastest-growing segment of the online population. They’re utilizing the internet in many of the same ways as their children and grandchildren, too, like for staying connected to others, getting their daily news, finding quick answers to health-related questions and more.

5 Ways to Incorporate Technology for Seniors into Your Daily Life

Although the Pew study revealed that more seniors are getting comfortable using newer technology, some may still feel slightly hesitant when it comes to learning how to properly use new devices like their smartphones, tablets or laptops. However, the benefits of technology for seniors outweighs these fears, and once they learn how to utilize their devices in an efficient manner, they become an important aspect of their lives.

Technology continues to evolve and improve lives, especially for seniors. Here are a few ways you should consider incorporating technology into your lifestyle:

  • Get connected with others. Seniors who stay socially active  experience a variety of health benefits, like better mental and physical health and increased longevity. Consider joining an online community group, where you’ll have the opportunity to connect with others who share your interests or similar health conditions. Even if you aren’t meeting in person, you’ll still get to share experiences, have discussions and grow relationships with your peers.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends. 62 percent of adults age 65 and older regularly use Facebook, up from 48 percent in 2015. Social media, email and Skype allow you to connect with loved ones no matter where they are located.  
  • Improve your physical and mental health. Technology for seniors also allows for better physical and mental health. Game consoles like Nintendo’s Wii offer a way to engage in light activity from the comfort of your living room. You can also improve cognition and memory through online “brain games.” Check out the AARP’s website for a variety of fun games that can be played with others online, allowing for some friendly competition and social interaction.
  • Find timely information. Online news trends are delivered in timely, almost instantaneous fashion, offering immediate coverage about events going on in the world. While many seniors still seek news and information in the traditional manner – through the newspaper or nightly TV news – it’s just as easy these days to find the most recent information simply by logging on to your mobile phone, tablet or computer.
  • Stay safe in emergency situations. In the event of an emergency, technology like wireless monitoring devices, surveillance cameras, door and window alarms all help provide peace of mind for older adults. For instance, if you live alone and suffer a fall, you simply need to push a button on a monitoring device to get help immediately.

Build Your Future at Western Home Communities

As a Life Plan Community, Western Home Communities offers a variety of senior living options  and supportive services to ensure you enjoy an environment where you can thrive for the rest of your life. To learn more about our continuing care retirement community or to take a personal tour, please contact us today, 319-277-2141. 

The Western Home Communities Blog

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 17 Jan, 2018

A recent study found that the average adult over the age of 65 years old takes between two and seven prescription medications every day for various chronic conditions. In addition to prescription medications, many aging adults combine over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or essential vitamins to their daily routine. These various medications allow seniors to effectively manage their symptoms enjoy the highest quality of life, longer.

When it comes to aging adults, managing medications can be one of the most challenging tasks. Polypharmacy , or the use of multiple medications, is a growing concern among the aging adult population today. Although taking certain medications can provide many health benefits, improper medication management can lead to various health complications, like muscle weakness, dizziness, loss of appetite or depression.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 05 Jan, 2018

That cold, bitter wind biting through your coat as you walk down the driveway to get the mail. The icy sidewalk, treacherous even in your thick-soled boots. Increased chances of catching the common cold or flu, which can easily lead to pneumonia.

The above are just a few examples of the dangers winter can pose to seniors. Instances of hypothermia, the chances of slipping on ice and breaking a bone, or the risk of getting sick all increase over the cold months. Additionally, when seniors live alone in their homes they can be more prone to social isolation, as it may be too dangerous to drive to meet friends or family, or even to head to the grocery store for essentials.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 14 Dec, 2017

As one of the most common elective surgeries in the United States, more than 320,000 hip replacements are performed every year. There are a variety of benefits to having a joint replacement surgery, including chronic pain relief, increased mobility, and reduced stiffness. In fact, 90 percent of those who undergo hip replacements report relief from pain associated with arthritis or injury and an overall better quality of life, which allows them to continue living as independently as possible.

After consulting with a physician and making the decision to undergo a hip replacement surgery, you may be concerned about the recovery time that follows. Although immediately following the surgery there may be some initial pain and soreness, most patients are able to get out of bed and move about the same day as the operation.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 06 Dec, 2017

Throughout our lives, we often have moments of forgetfulness where we can’t remember the location we parked the car at the grocery store, misplace our keys, or forget a new acquaintance’s name. And, as you get older, you might start to experience these memory lapses somewhat more often.

Forgetfulness can naturally be a part of the aging process. However, some seniors may start to become concerned that something more serious is going on with their brains, especially knowing that Alzheimer’s disease is most prevalent in adults over the age of 65. This is why it’s important to understand the difference between age-related memory loss and some of the common warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Arming yourself with the facts allows you to make an educated decision about when it might be time to seek your doctor’s advice.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 30 Oct, 2017

As we age, our bodies begin to go through physical changes. We lose flexibility and range of motion, or develop pain associated with certain chronic conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis. In fact, by the time adults enter into their forties, they begin to losing around three-to-five percent of their muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life.

Although most aging adults are aware of the risks associated with living a sedentary lifestyle, many stray away from taking part in a routine fitness program out of fear they will not be able to safely complete the exercises. A recent study revealed that approximately 67 percent of people aged 65 or older are inactive for over eight hours each day. Staying active as you age is vital to physical health, but also is an important part of maintaining independence and social well-being.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 23 Oct, 2017

Historically, seniors have used technology less often than their younger counterparts. However, recent research from the Pew Research Center  reports that those age 65 and older are beginning to catch up. Four years ago, only 18 percent of seniors had smartphones. Today that number has risen to 42 percent. Likewise, internet usage and home broadband adoption has increased among this age group by 55 percent since 2013.

Older adults are also the fastest-growing segment of the online population. They’re utilizing the internet in many of the same ways as their children and grandchildren, too, like for staying connected to others, getting their daily news, finding quick answers to health-related questions and more.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 16 Oct, 2017

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important at any stage in life. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can provide a variety of health benefits to both children and adults. However, as we age, our metabolisms slow down and we become less active. Seniors who do not maintain an active lifestyle require fewer calories and develop smaller appetites, making it difficult to consume the necessary number of daily calories needed for proper nutrition.

According to the National Institutes of Health , proper nutrition can reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone loss and even some types of cancer. Aging adults who eat a nutritious diet can also lower their risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 09 Oct, 2017

Seniors fall for a variety of reasons. The normal aging process brings physical changes to your body, and you may experience a decrease in your overall strength and mobility. Or, changes in your vision may affect how well you’re able to see objects blocking your path. Medication side effects like dizziness or weakness are often to blame for senior falls, too.

Regardless of the reason for the fall, knowing how to prevent one from occurring can be key to your overall quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC), falls are the number one cause of injuries in those age 65 and older. In fact, every year more than 2.5 million older individuals are treated in emergency rooms for an injury due to a fall. And, after you’ve fallen once, your chances of falling again actually double.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 02 Oct, 2017

Occupational therapy is a treatment that emerged in the United States in 1917 with the goal of helping people improve life skills and maintain their independence. Using a holistic approach, occupational therapists create programs that focus on adapting one’s environment to match that individual’s lifestyle. This process is completed by incorporating a variety of focused exercises and meaningful activities that promote participation in everyday life.

For seniors, occupational therapy assists in combatting the physical limitations that can present themselves over time. In fact, over one-third of occupational therapists work with seniors that have been affected by illness, injury or a mental health condition. By focusing on what the person can do and not on their restrictions, occupational therapists help seniors with the activities of daily life, including cooking, dressing, bathing and eating.

As an advocate for the senior population, occupational therapists can also play a key role in the memory loss some aging adults may face. Therapists use a step-by-step approach to assess a person’s cognitive abilities and use behavioral adjustments to assist with any changes in personality. First, the therapist will evaluate the individual’s physical and cognitive abilities. Then, the individual is tested with a series of constructed tasks and a personalized plan is created to meet his or her unique needs. If cognitive abilities continue to decline over time, the plan is adjusted to provide more sensory stimulation and educate the family caregivers on next steps.

By Linda Hudwalker Bowman 16 Aug, 2017

The older you get, the more difficult it can become to stay physically active. In fact, as you entered your forties, you began to lose three-to-five percent of your muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life. Chronic conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis can make certain movements painful, limiting your flexibility and your range of motion. Maybe you simply don’t know what types of exercises are best or safest for your individual needs, or you’re wary of joining the fancy new gym down the street.

However, while exercise is important for those of all ages, active seniors enjoy a variety of additional benefits to their overall health. For instance, senior fitness helps with healthy aging in the following ways:

Managing chronic conditions. The more you move, the better you feel! Exercise is crucial for managing and reducing pain from conditions like arthritis, as regular movement helps lubricate the joints and decrease stiffness. Exercise has also been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes and stroke.

Boosting mental health, memory and cognition.
Exercise is a known mood-booster, and it may be one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your memory performance, too. Exercise increases heart rate, which helps pump more oxygen to the brain. It also releases a variety of hormones in the brain that promote new cell growth.

Decreasing the need for some medications.
A combination of aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility exercises can reduce the need for the variety of medications you may take daily to manage your physical and mental conditions. For instance, exercise can help reduce systolic blood pressure and decrease your need for blood pressure medication.

Preventing falls.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors; in fact, one out of three adults age 65 or older suffer a debilitating fall each year. Adding balance exercises can help keep you steady on your feet and lead to a higher level of independence.

Improving sleep habits.
Seniors who suffer from insomnia find that exercise helps exhaust them enough to enjoy restful sleep throughout the night. It makes sense – after all, if you are more active throughout the day, you will be more tired in the evening. Just make sure to avoid strenuous activity two hours before bedtime.

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