The elderly have often been neglected by technology developers as a focus market. The stereotype is that they are technophobes, or at least slow to pick up new innovations.
However, in reality not only are the elderly very capable of using a range of complex modern technologies, they are also very often in need of devices that can ease their lives and empower them in their range of abilities. Let’s look over a few of the best examples out there.
Small Tech Goes Big
It seems that we are currently obsessed with reducing the size of new devices to make them more and more portable. However according to researchers, most elderly people prefer to spend their time without rushing and stressing and going from one place to the other, as many young people do. Many spend a great deal of time in their homes, which is often referred to as “ageing in place”.
Therefore, gadgets designed to support home living can be very useful, especially when they are designed appropriately for the elderly. Some simple examples include TV remote controllers, mobile phones and tablets designed as lightweight and featuring large illuminated buttons. TV audio amplifiers can also be very useful for, as well as audiobooks downloaded as MP3s or played on tablets and similar devices directly from a browser or a playlist.
Robotic technology for the home is still in its incipient stages when compared to most sci-fi tales of humanoid robots carrying out our domestic duties. Still, there are already many domestic robots that are on their way to becoming a commonplace feature of our times.
The improvements in home alarms and mobile phone security apps for seniors have been noticeable. There are sophisticated gadgets now available which can track activity patterns and create alerts for carers and family or friends when there is an unexpected interrupt in an elderly person’s routine. There are also a good range of wireless alarm systems which can be placed around the home with ease.
GPS Shoes and Smart Soles
These remarkable inventions are shoes and/or soles containing wearable devices which track people’s movements and remotely inform contacts as to their location. For those who wander due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, this is a great facility. GPS shoes update information periodically so caregivers can be informed about the location of the user with frequencies ranging up to every 10 minutes. GPS smart soles allow online tracking of a user’s location through any smartphone, tablet or browser with the login details.
Treasuring the memories of our yesterdays and our loved ones is something that many increasingly enjoy in their later years and can also stimulate memory functions and provide an overall boost to happiness and well being. There is a range of interesting possibilities such as large digital photo frames which display thousands of photos, as well as audio and video content in some cases. Some of these digital photo frames can be updated remotely from a relative’s computer or even mobile phone.
A widening range of gadgets are now becoming more user friendly, interesting and empowering for the elderly, as well as a diversifying range of gadgets custom-made for this market group. After all, this is a segment of the population who should be respected and should never be neglected. They brought us into this world, and we we will all arrive into this demographic in the end.
Brooker, D., & Duce, L. (2000). Wellbeing and activity in dementia: A comparison of group reminiscence therapy, structured goal-directed group activity and unstructured time Aging & Mental Health, 4 (4), 354-358 DOI: 10.1080/713649967
This guest article originally appeared on the award-winning health and science blog and brain-themed community, BrainBlogger: Top Tech Gadgets for the Elderly.