We’re told older adults are embracing technology more than ever. And there’s no doubt that inventors in the digital space are scrambling to find ways to market their platforms and tools to them. (Think high tech wearables that monitor everything from blood pressure to daily steps taken, screen magnification, talk-to-text and even assistive domotics and home robots.) Still we all know at least one older person who can barely text let alone maneuver mobile apps. So while they may be purchasing laptops, smart phones and tablets and all of the possibilities they intend, many older adults say they still don't feel confident about using them.
A recent study published in the journal Healthcare analyzed older adults’ perspectives on technology intended to allow them to stay in their own homes longer, so-called “aging in place.” According to the lead author of the study, Shengzhi Wang of the Design Lab at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), researchers found that many times “frustration” with new technology made older adults unsure of their ability to use it, leaving them unmotivated to even try.
“Frustration appeared to be a significant barrier, which led to a lack of self-confidence and motivation to pursue using the technology,” Wang wrote.
7/28/2019The study was part of a UC San Diego Health Sciences project on technology-enabled health research. Researchers convened two focus groups at a local retirement community in August of 2018 to explore both barriers and facilitators to technology adoption as well as privacy concerns and any interest participants may have in helping companies design the technology that could serve them.
The research can't come soon enough. A recent Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that Americans ages 60 and older—a group increasingly populated by aging Baby Boomers—spend more than half of their daily leisure time (just over 4 hours) on their TVs, computers, tablets or other electronic devices. “Screen time has increased for those in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, and the rise is apparent across genders and education levels,” wrote Pew’s Gretchen Livingston. “This rise in screen time coincides with significant growth in the adoption of digital technology by older Americans. In 2000, 14% of those ages 65 and older were internet users; now 73% are. And while smartphone ownership was uncommon at all ages around the turn of the 21st century, now about half (53%) of people 65 and older are smartphone owners.”
So apparently the problem isn’t owning them, it’s using them. And often that's because there is no input from older adults on their design. “Most older adults prefer to age in place, and technologies, including Internet of things (IoT), Ambient/Active Assisted Living (AAL) robots and other artificial intelligence (AI), can support independent living,” the authors of the UC San Diego study wrote. “However, a 'top-down' design process creates mismatches between technologies and older adults’ needs.”
Source: Forbes Article by Robin Seaton Jefferson, Contributor 7/28/2019
New virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Daydream have barely scratched the surface of the technology’s potential. Even so, the applications of VR are reshaping entire industries. Today, it’s also improving the quality of life of seniors in assisted living facilities.
Seniors make up 15.6% of the entire US population. In less than 20 years, the older population is expected to outnumber the kids. That’s a first in US history.
Source: AP POstAs we age, we go through a myriad of changes, not only physically but mentally as well. For many, aging is a constant battle with memory loss, mood swings, and loss of mobility. Some go through depression, while others start to experience low self-esteem. Not only that, seniors tend to go through several of these conditions at the same time.
Thankfully, technologies like virtual reality are making life after 60 more fun and exciting. VR can help our seniors handle the stress of aging and get the most from life.
VR, Reigniting Seniors’ Passion for Life
MIT startup Rendever is improving the lives of seniors across the US through virtual reality. The company combines VR with Reminiscence Therapy to reignite the older population’s passion for life. Co-founder and CEO Kyle Rand, along with his team, designed a VR experience that takes seniors on a wild ride. Their software allows eldercare residents to revisit childhood homes or explore places they’ve never had the chance to visit.
Studies show that loneliness is associated with cognitive decline. Knowing that they could make a difference in so many lives, Rand and his team started working on a VR project. Soon, they’d find out that virtual worlds are exciting for people of all ages. During their tests, seniors would light up after a positive immersive experience. It’s quite different from their day-to-day life at assisted care facilities. Certainly, it’s nothing like Bingo or arts and crafts.
myndVR virtual reality seniorsAnother company that has a similar initiative is MyndVR. They, too, are bringing virtual reality to eldercare residents. MyndVR curates and creates diverse, meaningful, as well as entertaining VR content. From Paris to Africa, seniors can explore the world to their heart’s content.
“Our goal is to lift the quality of life and the spirits of the senior citizens across the country,” said Chris Brickler, co-founder and CEO of MyndVR. “We have the ability to bring in a super-engaging technology to these folks—more engaging than TV, more engaging than newspapers. This is a true immersive technology that provides joy and takes people out of the four walls of their existence.”
VR, Preventing Social Isolation
Virtual reality experiences with Rendever in senior living communities are usually group activities. Six residents will enter the virtual world at the same time. This way, no one gets isolated or feels left out. Everyone has an opportunity to share parts of their childhood with others. Together, seniors can even visit new destinations for the first time. This leads to many stimulating conversations outside of the group activity. On top of that, seniors can have immersive experiences with their family.
Source: ARPOST Article by Gergana Mileva, 7/5/2019
From FaceTime to iPods, residents at senior living spaces embrace technology
Connected technology in our homes is fast becoming part of our daily routine. For good reason: it offers entertainment, convenience, connection to others, improved security and increased comfort. It’s also becoming routine in senior living communities. According to a survey by Pew Research, four in 10 older adults now use the internet and own smart phones — up 50 percent from four years ago.
As the president and CEO of Jewish Senior Life, a continuing care retirement community in Rochester, N.Y., I can say that our team’s experience has given us a strong understanding of how technology can help enrich the lives of those we serve.
From email and webcams that connect with family and friends, and games and puzzles that stimulate minds, to technology-enhanced rehabilitation programs that improve hand-eye coordination, residents with a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities are now enjoying technologies adapted just for them. Even those who’ve never used a computer before.
Through technology, they’re able to continue learning, socializing and doing the things they enjoy doing, which helps them stay engaged, informed, in touch and in control.
These technologies also help foster relationships between staff and residents, who enjoy using them together.
Keeping Lines of Communication and Connection Open
Older adults are increasingly adept with laptops, tablets and smartphones. Many of our residents enjoy using platforms like Skype and FaceTime to keep in touch with family members and longtime friends. Video chatting is more personable than a phone call and allows our residents to be “present” at milestone occasions, such as birthday parties, school performances, graduation ceremonies and weddings.
Whether they’re taking a lifelong learning course, engaging in social media, listening to podcasts or paying bills, today’s older adults want ready access to all that the internet has to offer. Just like they did at home.
Hey Google, When is My Therapy Appointment?
One of the many technology devices we rely on at Jewish Senior Life is Google Home. It’s a voice-activated smart speaker. Our transitional care (short-term rehabilitation) patients enjoy using it during their stays to get instant access to information such as the weather forecast, history and current events, as well as where they need to be when. In short, it helps them stay connected to their hobbies and interests, and on top of their schedule.
Other devices that are increasingly common in assisted living centers, retirement communities and medical facilities include:
Music, the Universal Language
Many people living in a long-term care residence face cognitive and physical difficulties and have left behind their familiar surroundings, familiar faces and even their favorite music.
We have 65 iPods loaded with MUSIC & MEMORY®, a personalized music software program, which helps them find renewed meaning and connection in their lives in the present and helps them reconnect with their past.
We find it also helps residents relax during sundowning — a symptom of dementia in which an individual experiences late-day confusion or agitation. Hearing pieces of music they know gives them a sense of calm, a sense of peace, puts them at ease. It reminds them of what they were like before they had dementia. And since music is the universal language, the MUSIC & MEMORY program also helps eliminate communication hurdles.
Smart Technology Isn’t a Luxury, It’s a Must-Have
Given the rapid pace at which today’s older adults are embracing technology, and all that it enables them to do, from connecting with grandchildren to playing Scrabble and solitaire to reconnecting with their best selves, the role of connected technology in senior living communities will only increase in prominence.
It can be a wonderful companion and a way to keep the mind stimulated and engaged. Technology can also be a great distraction and source of comfort and help older residents cope and adapt to cognitive and physical challenges.
If you’re considering a move to senior living for yourself or a family member, be sure to ask what technologies are available to the residents and staff. The benefits they bring are immeasurable.
Source: NextAvenue.org Article by Mike King, President and CEO of Jewish Senior Life in Rochester, New York 9/10/2018
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