While many senior citizens are often resistant to new technologies, it’s becoming increasing apparent that technology can be a valuable asset for the elderly and for family members that want to check in on loved ones.
Across the country many family members and caregivers are looking to apps and devices to help do things such as manage medications and schedule doctor visits. Though the growth of this technology has been slow, it is slowly beginning to catch on. Currently more than 34 million adults help provide unpaid care to loved ones and that number is only going to increase as the over 65 population is expected to more than double by 2060.
Now, technology companies are rushing to accommodate what they see as an increasing demand. "The economic power of the 50-plus market is almost half of the US economy," says Stephen Johnston, co-founder of Aging 2.0, a tech company that connects entrepreneurs with the elder-care industry. Johnston says the number of age-related startups tripled in the past three years.
There are a number of apps out there right now for both the elderly and caregivers. Some eldercare nurses use ScriptDash, a service that allows them to order prescription drugs for patients and have them delivered for free, often as soon as the next day. ScriptDash is available 24/7, which allows nurses to spend less time on the phone than they would with traditional pharmacies.
A smartphone app called Carely is useful to family members who want to help their loved ones schedule appointments and allows them to see updates on their condition. This allows family members to stay informed about their loved ones’ condition without spending a lot of time calling and texting.
For unpaid caregivers there are other technologies available, such as a personal emergency-response device called the Eddy Health Alert which can be worn like a necklace by the user and will call for help with the push of a button. Devices such as this one can allow the elderly to stay independent longer.
Sadly, many caregivers are finding it difficult to incorporate technology into their daily routines. A recent survey by caring.com found that only 15% use these types of devices. Some experts say that tech programmers building these products often don’t design them properly for their intended users.
Others say that using these devices is often harder than expected. Time may be the biggest issue as many caregivers are finding that they simply don’t have time to learn how to find and use new products.
Thankfully, some companies are beginning to work directly with health care providers to increase access to new health care technologies. Also some senior citizens may be able to attend local workshops to help them learn how to use smartphones or tablets, allowing greater access to helpful apps for healthcare services. Seniors can call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 to find the number to their local Area Agency on Aging for more information. There are also a wide variety of how-to books that can be found at your local library.
Technology can be a powerful tool to help senior citizens and their loved ones. Increasing awareness of these types of devices is critical for the health and well being of seniors.