It’s great that people are living longer due to advancements in medicine and technology, but as we get older our muscle strength and flexibility start to deteriorate. People over the age of 65 are much more likely to experience a fall, which can have a longer-lasting impact than to a younger person.
Many older adults want to stay physically active by doing the things they love including gardening or sport, but they are worried about causing themselves harm. There are now a number of devices that can help seniors stay physically active and safe, so they can have peace of mind as they go about their day. It’s important for elderly people to continue exercising, even if it’s a 30-minute walk every day because physical activity can:
- Prevent disease
- Decrease risk of falls
- Improve mental health
- Improve cognitive function and
- Increase social interaction
In this article we’re going to outline how technology is making it easier for seniors to stay active and our 5 picks for tech gadgets that can help older adults stay active.
Why Technology is Making it Easier For Seniors to Stay Physically Active
More and more older adults are choosing to age at home, which is why technology has had to be developed for more seniors to not only live at home independently but make it safe for them to do so. While it’s great that elderly people can live independently, this doesn’t come without its dangers, especially if they’re outside gardening, cleaning the pool or climbing a ladder. That’s why smart devices such as smartwatches with fall detection, smart sensors and voice-activated gadgets are making it safer for seniors to get around not only in their home but outside as well.
There is often a perception that elderly people are averse to technology and change, but seniors are actually more tech savvy than younger people might think. In 2017, the Pew Research Center conducted research that found around 70% of Americans who were aged 65 and over, use the internet. Below we have picked five tech gadgets that are making life easier for seniors who want to maintain an active lifestyle.
5 Tech Gadgets That Can Help Older Adults Lead An Active Lifestyle
Smartwatch With Fall Detection
Smartwatches are great devices because they are worn around the wrist and just look like a regular watch. For seniors who don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they’re wearing a medical alert device, a smartwatch is less bulky and looks more stylish. A smartwatch that can detect falls can not only tell you the time, but it could possibly save your life.
If a senior were to experience a fall while out walking or in the backyard, they can use their medical smartwatch to get help quickly. Some devices offer two-way communication with a response centre, so the senior can speak to a real person. The staff member will then be able to assess how serious the situation is before getting the help required. Smartwatches also have GPS so if the person is unable to respond, they’ll still be able to receive help.
Sometimes when a person has fallen, their mobile phone isn’t in reach and they may be unable to move which is why having a medical alert smartwatch can be a very useful device. Smartwatches can even help those who experience falls inside the home.
There are plenty of virtual assistants that can take the form of a smart speaker including Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Voice-activated assistants are great for seniors because they can set reminders. If an older adult is slowly building up a daily exercise routine, they can get their virtual assistant to remind them to do something such as ‘go for a 5-minute walk around the block’.
Some simple tasks can be performed by virtual assistants which can help seniors who may have visual impairment or arthritis in their hands. For example, you can tell a smart speaker to turn lights on or off or close the blinds. You can also use a virtual assistant to create shopping lists, look for recipes online and even make calculations.
If an older adult needs to call emergency services because they’ve had a fall, virtual assistants cannot do this. But smart speakers can be connected to an app which the person can then ask the app to call emergency services if needed.
When seniors experience a fall, one of the most common injuries especially for women is a fractured hip. A company in France has developed the Hip’Safe which is a wearable device that is worn around the waist. It’s designed for older adults who have trouble with their balance and it’ll protect them if they happen to fall.
The device uses airbag technology as a way to reduce the number of hip fractures due to falls. The system analyses a person’s motion and if a fall is detected, airbags on both sides of the person’s body will automatically deploy over the hips and allows for better shock absorption.
Visual Assistance Device
Artificial intelligence is now being used for wearable assistance devices that can be clipped to a person’s glasses. The aim is to help people who are blind and visually impaired to be able to go outside again safely. The device comprises a smart camera that can attach to the frames of virtually any glasses. It is then able to read print and digital text aloud, recognise facial expressions, money and much more.
With this device, people who are worried about going outside alone due to their visual impairment will feel safer knowing that they’ll be able to read signs, product labels and screens.
There are now hearing aids that can be bought and programmed to suit the user’s needs, rather than having to go through a healthcare provider. Some are now so high-tech that not only are they difficult to spot that an elderly person is wearing them, but they can even connect to Bluetooth and smartphone apps.
Not being able to hear properly can make going outdoors dangerous for older adults especially if they are unable to hear cars or other vehicles approaching while crossing roads. There are now a range of hearing devices available that will not only help the wearer hear more clearly but also be able to stream music, podcasts and call people. They can also block out background noise if they’re having a conversation with someone. Having better hearing means a senior has more energy to deal with other issues throughout their day.