Five ways technology can help us age in place

Aging in place is defined as an individual living in the residence of their choice as they age while maintaining their quality of life. According to AARP, 87 percent of older adults age 65+ want to age in place and stay in their current home and community as they age.

Aging in place is important not only because it is the preferred way of older adults to age, but also because of the growing numbers of older adults. The rate at which the older adult population is growing presents society with a unique challenge of ensuring there are enough resources to help this population safely age in place.

This brings me to the five ways technology helps older adults age in place:

  1. Increasing resources

Caregiving for an older adult can be overwhelming when you are doing it alone. It can be stressful and time consuming to search for all the resources your older adult may need and can lead to burnout.

Technology like CareNextion.org can help caregivers lighten their load by freely and easily growing their care team as well as gaining access to hundreds of free or reduced-cost additional resources. CareNextion.org is a free, online care management tool for older adults and their caregivers.

It allows individuals to create care teams among family members and other trusted individuals to easily communicate, share schedules, and find assistance for their aging loved one. With a calendar, journal and resource section, this online tool enables individuals to bring together the support needed to help their loved one live a vital and engaging life.

  1. Reducing cost of care

We all know that the cost of nursing home or assisted living care is astronomical. So much so, that aging in place isn’t just what some older adults prefer to do — it’s their only option because they’re unable to afford anything else. In-home sensors are often a great alternative to assisted living care as they provide older adults the opportunity to remain independent while keeping trusted individuals in the loop.

There are customizable, non-intrusive sensor-based activity notification services that can connect caregivers with their loved ones. Motion, bed and other sensors learn the patterns of a parent’s activities at home and notify caregivers when there are changes in routine, so caregivers no longer need to worry about how their loved one is doing, and older adults can enjoy the freedom of independent living with the comfort that someone is there when they need them.

  1. Minimizing isolation

Video chatting tools such as Skype and FaceTime help older adults stay in touch with their family and friends, which helps them to stay connected within their communities. Online communication can even be used with your doctor. Picture sharing, messaging, video chat, important calendar reminders and more can be delivered right to the viewer’s TV.

  1. Increasing mobility

Many mobility aids exist to assist older adults in aging in place. Wearable sensory prosthetics are available for patients with peripheral neuropathy who have trouble staying balanced. A thin insole placed in the shoe measures foot pressure, and a leg unit placed around the ankle provides tactile cues about balance that the wearer learns to use as a new balance sense.

  1. Keeping your brain sharp

Online games aren’t just for children. Video games help to improve hand-eye coordination and mental sharpness. Research from UC San Francisco found that playing video games can alter the brains plasticity and boost brain activity to that of a younger brain. They also have the added bonus of reducing isolation when playing multi-player games. Cognitive games have been created by scientists and game designers with the specific purpose of strengthening your brain.

 

Deb Taylor is the CEO of Senior Community Services and its Reimagine Aging Institute, a nonprofit that helps older adults and caregivers navigate aging to maintain independence and quality of life. For more information, visit www.seniorcommunity.org and discuss individual needs and concerns with your family physician.

 

 

 

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