Remember those 2020 TV commercials that aired during the pandemic, showing grandkids opening their holiday gifts over a video chat with their grandparents?
Aside from being tear-inducing (most of us simply didn’t have in-person holiday gatherings in 2020), a video chat is one great example of technology that can keep older adults connected with the people and places they love. But there are several other options available, too:
1. Video Conferencing
All kinds of technology options are out there to keep people socially connected, though video chats offer that “you’re right here with me” feeling. Choose a video chat platform like Zoom, Skype or Facebook FaceTime Messenger, and it’s almost like being in the same room with your loved ones. You can also invite as many people as you like into one video conference.
2. Social Platforms
You may also consider social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, which are all great platforms for sharing videos, photos, messages, music and much more.
3. Online Games
Online games offer two advantages for seniors. They alleviate loneliness and isolation by encouraging interaction with other people, and they boost brain health by keeping older adults intellectually and mentally stimulated.
Nearly every game you can imagine can be played online with another person or group of people — poker, bridge, Monopoly, chess, checkers and backgammon are just a few you’ll easily find. For Apple phones, GamePigeon allows players to challenge each other in games like billiards, golf, archery and word games. GamePigeon is only accessible through Apple’s Messages app, where players can initiate games and respond to games in conversations.
But what about wearable technology for seniors? And assistive technology devices? What types of technology exist so seniors can stay connected — and safe — even when we’re not physically together?
Actually, there’s a wide assortment of wearable technology and assistive technology devices for seniors currently on the market. And more wearable technology, not just for seniors but for people of all ages and abilities, is being developed. Depending on the devices you choose, you can monitor your loved one’s health and well-being for a little peace of mind, and you can help your loved one stay plugged in socially. Here are five types of wearable assistive technology devices.
What’s Wearable Technology?
Wearable technology is an electronic device that can be worn as an accessory, embedded in clothing, implanted in your body, or even tattooed on your skin. They’re hands-free gadgets with practical uses, powered by microprocessors and enhanced with the ability to send and receive data via the internet.
Some examples of wearable technology for seniors:
1. The Smartwatch
If you remember the 1950s Dick Tracy comics, you remember his two-way radio watch. Here we are, 60 years later, with mini-computers on our wrists. And ours can answer phone calls, respond to notifications, track our fitness goals, and monitor heart rate; even track your location via GPS.
Many wearers use a smartwatch as a complement to their phone or laptop, staying in touch with friends, family and co-workers without being tethered to their larger devices. That freedom is also what makes them a great option for older adults. Seniors can easily stay in touch with their friends and loved ones, no matter where everyone may be located.
With annual sales of $6 billion, the Apple Watch is one of the biggest players in smartwatches and watches themselves, surpassing Rolex as the world’s top watch producer in revenue. Good brands to check into are Apple Watch, Samsung, and Fitbit. Though one thing to consider: Smartwatches need to be charged daily to maintain good battery life. There are watches from Fossil and Garmin that run off of a regular watch battery, so battery life isn’t dependent on plugging your watch in every day.
2. Fitness Trackers
These devices offer functionality that’s so similar to smartwatches that the lines have become somewhat blurred. But fitness trackers tend to be less expensive than smartwatches, making them a good option for the active senior who simply wants to track their heart rate, calories burned, blood pressure, and amount of restful sleep. Fitness trackers are available as watches, rings, shoes and headbands.
3. GPS Tracking Devices
If someone you love has some form of cognitive impairment, or becomes disoriented at times, these geolocator devices can provide some independence for your loved one while giving you some peace of mind. Small keychain-sized devices can be placed in a pocket or worn on a necklace; other wearable options include shoe insoles and a stick-on patch that resembles a Band-Aid bandage.
What’s Assistive Wearable Technology?
An assistive wearable technology device allows older adults to receive assistance at the touch of a button to get immediate access to care or emergency help. These devices are connected through cellular technology for nationwide coverage, so seniors and their loved ones know help is available to them whether they’re at the grocery store or the Grand Canyon. And that represents true peace of mind.
Some examples of assistive wearable technology for seniors:
1. Smart Jewelry
Yoga enthusiasts have touted the benefits of smart jewelry for a few years, which can track heart rate, steps and calories burned. It’s also being marketed to seniors and those who want to feel more fashionable while wearing GPS and alert devices, so people can wear jewelry that doesn’t look like a clunky medical aid. These devices can be worn as a necklace, a bracelet or on a keychain. Aside from the cost of the initial product and battery replacement, there’s no monthly fee to pay, making these fairly affordable.
This one sounds a bit like “Big Brother” to some people, but chances are you know someone who’s already wearing an implantable assistive device. These include cochlear implants, blood glucose monitors and insulin pumps. This type of technology refers to objects that can be inserted into your body to modify, enhance or heal you in ways nonimbedded devices can’t.
Here’s One Nontechnology Way to Stay Socially Connected
Technology is wonderful, but it’s no replacement for human beings. One of the smartest ways to stay socially, physically and intellectually connected is by living in a senior living community like Trillium Woods.
We’re not the only ones saying that, either: Check out what residents and their family members have to say about Trillium Woods. Browse our impressively long list of services and amenities we offer. Take a virtual tour of our community. It really is the next best thing to being here.
But for the best experience, make plans for your personal visit to Trillium Woods. Just contact us from your computer, laptop, cellphone or smartwatch!