The 21st century has been described as a golden age for older people. Advances in modern medicine coupled with a marked improvement in the standards of living have contributed to an uptick in life expectancy figures in Western countries. These advances are fueling a steady increase in the population of people over the age of 65. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to increasing rapidly reaching over 94 million by 2060. But not all older people lead fulfilling lives. Limited mobility, chronic health problems, and financial difficulties usually make life challenging for some older people. How can older people use technology to improve the quality of their lives?
Maintaining Social Interactions
Humans thrive in social environments. Isolation can lead to a rapid deterioration in people’s physical and mental health. Retirement and mobility problems usually confine some seniors to a life with minimal social interactions. A study commissioned by the National Institute of Aging revealed a strong correlation between social interaction and good health in older people. Isolation, on the other hand, is associated with adverse effects. Social interaction helps seniors to keep their minds engaged thus maintaining proper mental health. In addition, such interactions give the seniors a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear and helps to fight depression and stress. Maintaining an active social life, therefore, can help seniors to thrive. Family and friends naturally from the primary social circle of most seniors.
Of course, the fact that some seniors are retired from work coupled with the physical distance from family members may limit their social circle. Some seniors are increasingly relying on seniors’ social clubs for social connections. Book clubs, recreational outing clubs for the elderly, community volunteer groups, race groups, gardening clubs, and knitting clubs are some of the places seniors turn to for social interactions. In addition to keeping seniors mentally engaged, participation in a seniors’ social clubs may help seniors to stay physically healthy. Staying active through social clubs may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and a long list of other age-related health conditions. Seniors who participate in such social activities kill two birds using one stone: they stay mentally engaged and physically active. They thus stand a better chance of living longer more fulfilling lives.
The ability of some older people to interact is limited by mobility problems and chronic diseases. Such seniors can make use of social media to supplement their interactions and counter the effects of isolation. In addition to helping them to stay in touch with friends and family, social media can help older people to get in touch with other people with similar interests.
Malnutrition is one of the major causes of health problems in older people. According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging, millions of older Americans are malnourished with up to 50 percent of older residents of long-term care grappling with malnutrition. Lack of access to healthy food and some chronic disease are cited as major causes of malnutrition in older people. Yet having balanced meals is not any less useful for seniors than for the other age groups. Malnutrition puts seniors at risk of becoming underweight or overweight. Problems with weight usually weaken muscles and make seniors vulnerable to disease.
Eating healthy, on the other hand, helps to manage chronic health conditions and improves the overall wellbeing of older people. Some seniors may need specific health supplements to stay health. There vitamins and supplements for slow digestion, fighting arthritis, promoting sleep, and more. Seniors will benefit when they eat foods that are rich in minerals, nutrients, and fiber. Processed foods that are rich in sugars, fats, and salts should be limited.
Staying healthy involves much more than just eating good food. Doing exercise can help seniors to stay in shape physically. Physical exercise helps prevent unnecessary weight gain and contributes to good mental health. A regular routine of exercise promotes brain activity and memory, slowing down the aging process.
Wearable technology is already revolutionizing the way older people exercise. Smartwatches can be used to record heart rate, blood pressure, and other aspects of a person’s health parameters. The use of fitness trackers can help seniors to identify signs of potential health problems before their health condition deteriorates. Such devices can thus be used as early warning systems for health. Some wearable devices can also be used to get in touch with health services in case of emergencies.
Leading Independent Lives
Aging usually limits the ability of people to live independently. But independence is crucial for older and it helps people to live with dignity and improves mental health. According to this article on the future generation of over 60s, a number of technologies are helping seniors to lead independent lives. Smart appliances powered by the internet of things have already made their way to thousands of homes around the globe. New AI technologies are creating unlimited possibilities with what we can do with refrigerators, televisions systems, smart speakers, and other home appliances. Security systems have also got a boost from new technologies and the market is now flooded with hi-tech CCTV camera systems with advanced motion-sensing technologies. Seniors can harness these new technologies to live independently without facing issues with the quality of their lives.
Advances in the automotive industry have the potential of helping seniors live more independently. Already, there are a number of vehicles with limited autopilot abilities on the market. In addition, virtually every major car manufacturer is in the process of conducting road trials for self-driving cars. Car manufacturers have predicted that such autonomous cars may hit the market as early as 2020. Using technologies like IoT-powered smart appliances and self-driving cars can help seniors maintain their dignity and live more independent lives.
Thanks to advances in medicine, the proportion of people over the age of 60 is increasing by the day. Advances in technology have the potential to revolutionize the way seniors live. Fitness trackers, autonomous vehicles, and social media are some of the technologies that can help seniors to live healthier, more independent, and more productive lives.