As people approach their senior years, their health undoubtedly becomes a bigger priority. Specific conditions and diseases – including heart disease, cancer, and joint and bone diseases, are more prevalent as we age, and what has become very clear in the past couple of decades is that technology can help us stave off or manage these diseases more effectively. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology has shown, however, that seniors can fail to take advantage of the benefits of health technology. Researchers note that although seniors can find technology daunting, they can overcome the fear of the unknown through the aid of communities and family members and friends.
What do Seniors Fear about Technology?
In the above-mentioned study, researchers looked into the major barriers seniors face when interacting with technology. These included a lack of instructions and guidance, lack of knowledge and self-confidence, technology that is too difficult to master, lack of social interaction, and skepticism about tablets and their utility. Interestingly, researchers found that after just a short time interacting with a tablet, seniors stated they were more likely to use one in the future. The study found that the majority of seniors are actually eager to embrace technology. What they really need to do so, is greater clarity, clear instructions, and support.
How Can Technology Help Seniors?
From medical alarms to wearable fitness technology, technology can help seniors take a more preventive approach to health. Fitness apps, wearable tech for blood glucose monitoring, and mental health apps for depression, mood, and stress can greatly enhance a senior’s life by helping identify potential issues that can be addressed before they result in greater health consequences. For instance, smartphones can send reminders to seniors on the importance of testing testosterone levels, or of seeing their doctor for a prostate checkup. Preventive testing enables the early adoption of treatments such as hormone replacement therapy, supplementation, and mind-body interventions, which can make a big difference to physiological health and mood. Reminders for general checkups can result in preventive blood panel work, MRIs, and other scans to detect diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease before they pose a serious threat. Meanwhile, telehealth services can help seniors overcome another big barrier to health: distance and the lack of suitable transport.
Providing Seniors with Tech Education
Families can play an important role in helping their senior loved ones feel more comfortable with new technology. The first step is to ensure seniors can see and hear well enough to make the most of available devices. As noted by Pew Research, two in every five Americans have a “physical or health condition that makes reading difficult or challenging”. Seniors may require an eye or hearing check so as to facilitate their interaction with technology. Family can also take time to offer older family members tutorials on everything from Internet use to how to turn on a medical alarm, how to measure their heart rate with a wearable gadget, or how to use a relaxation app to meditate or practice breathing exercises at night. On a community level, more centers should offer education on the type of technology that can foster senior health. Classes can range from teaching seniors how to book an online doctor’s appointment, to how to use electronic reminders to keep up with checkups and doctor’s appointments.
Technology is useful for coordinating seniors’ health issues, ensuring the elderly receive telehealth services, and keeping their health records. There are many obstacles for seniors wishing to interact more with technology, the greatest of which is possibly the fear of being ‘too old’ to learn new things. Both communities and family members can help knock many barriers down, concentrating on the most important devices, apps, and other technologies that can help seniors take a more active stance against physical and mental disease.
This is a guest post credit to Jennifer Macdonald, a nutritionist with a background in biology. She is fascinated by the role of aging on the body. While weakening joints, loss of height, and thinning hair are inevitable, the rate of change can be slowed down with smart lifestyle choices. In the last few years, she has started work as a freelance writer. In her new role, she use her knowledge of health and fitness to offer advice to reader.