January 30, 2019

Tech and Aging

Arkansas State logo

By Jessica Camp, MSN, APRN, AGCNS-BC
College of Nursing & Health Professions, Arkansas State University

 

It appears that more older adults are using technology in their daily lives (Davis, 2019). According to a study by AARP, mobile devices and computers are the primary technology used by this population (Anderson, 2017, p. 3). To a lesser extent, older adults reported managing their healthcare and learning with this technology. Another study by PEW Research Center Older Adults and Technology Use (Smith, 2014) found that:

  • Six in ten seniors now go online
  • Just under half are broadband adopters
  • Younger, higher-income, and more highly educated seniors use the internet and broadband at rates approaching—or even exceeding—the general population
  • Internet use and broadband adoption each drop off dramatically around age 75
  •  27% of older adults use social networking sites such as Facebook, but these users socialize more frequently with others compared with non-SNS users
  • E-readers are as popular as smartphones

Sadly, however, Davis (2019) points out that the design of technology used by older adults rarely focuses on them. This article aims to shed a bit of light on some of the technology that may be useful or even helpful for older adults and technology that is actually designed for the older adult.

Interestingly enough, these are not the only technology-based items, nor services, available to older adults. Currently, there is a multitude of technological products marketed specifically for older adults. Nextavenue contributing write Patricia Corrigan shared an overview on several tech items that can help older adults who serve to maintain their independence, such as:

  • Wearable battery-operated emergency alert systems (such as Philips Lifeline), which detect falls and summon help
  • The Apple watch (Series 4), which monitors your heart rhythm and detects falls
  • Some cell phones (such as GreatCalla), which offer emergency response buttons
  • Voice-controlled devices (such as LifePod), which work with “smart” speakers to remind you when to take your medication or head to a medical appointment
  • Cameras, microphones and motion sensors (Evermind makes one version), which monitor your regular activity — or signal a lack of it to your caregiver (2018, para. 2)Surprising to this author, there is a company offering transportation normally available through the use of technology to older adults. One company provides transportation for older adults by turning traditional on-demand transportation systems (like Uber, for example) already in place into senior-friendly transportation. Older adults can call an eight-hundred-number and press a few buttons once registered, to obtain a ride, and even return home all the while sharing information with the family about their activity through messaging communication. This service charges twenty-seven cents per minute currently in addition to the service rate charged by the transportation company for the travel. Unfortunately, it is not yet available in all parts of Arkansas. However, the zip code 72002 for Little Rock provided the following rates (from their website):
  • Not surprising, there is more than one company that markets cell phones, including smartphones, to our older adults. One such company touts that they are the home of the “original easy-to-use cell phone” (Greatcall, 2019a, para. 1). They also offer a family caregiving device that includes a wearable communicator designed for two-way communication, fall detection, and GPS locating features that are reportedly waterproof. Further, they offer a version of this that tracks fitness and looks similar to the traditional wearable device providing the same features (Greatcall, 2019b). Another company offers more conventional cell phones with some additional services designed for urgent and emergent communication around the clock (Snapfon, 2019, para. 1-3).

Ride Fare:
$3.60 base fare + $0.76 per mile + $0.15 per minute (with a minimum fare of $7.60)

and
Concierge Fee:
$0.27 per minute

* Please note that during periods of high demand, our vendors may include a surge charge (gogograndparent.com, 2018)

Despite older adults still reporting skepticism regarding technology, the trend is up on use for most aspects. This article shows that there is no shortage of new ways technology is being garnered to help out older adults. Let this article encourage you to learn more about how technology can assist your older adult patients, your family or even yourself.

 

 

 

Smith, (2014). PEW report. Older Adults and Technology Use. PEW Research Center. Retrieved on January 14th, 2019 from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/

Anderson, M., & Perrin, A. (2017). PEW Report. Technology Use Among Seniors. PEW Research Center. Retrieved on January 14th, 2019 from http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/

Abrahms, S. (2015). 3 Must-have cell phones for seniors. Retrieved on January 17th, 2019 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2015/06/17/3-must-have-cell-phones-for-seniors/#238490ce6cce

Greatcall. (2019a). About us. Retrieved on January 17th, 2019 from https://www.greatcall.com/about-us

Greatcall. (2019b). Feel safer on the go. Retrieved on January 17, 2019 from https://www.greatcall.com/devices/lively-mobile-medical-alert-system

Snapfon & Excellcious Communications LLC. (2019). Easy to use features. Retrieved on January 17, 2019 from https://www.snapfon.com/big-button-cell-phone/

Snapfon & Excellus Communications LLC. (2019). sosPlus mobile emergency management services. Retrieved on January 17, 2019 from https://www.snapfon.com/sos-plus/

GoGoGrandparent. (2018). How it works. Retrieved on January 17, 2019 from https://gogograndparent.com/

Corrigan, P. (2017). Technology can help us age in place, if we let it. Nextavenue: Where Grown-ups Keep Growing. Retrieved on January 14th, 2019 from   https://www.nextavenue.org/technology-age-in-place/

Anderson, G.O. (2017). Technology Use and Attitudes Among Mid-life and Older Adults. AARP Research.  Retrieved on January 14th, 2019 from https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/technology/info-2018/atom-nov-2017-tech-module.doi.10.26419%252Fres.00210.001.pdf