New Technology Every Senior Should Know About

senior tech

When it comes to seniors and technology, there are a few big misconceptions. It might be easy to think of an elderly loved one and immediately think about a landline telephone instead of a cell phone, or an older desktop instead of a sleek laptop or tablet – and you might even think of even simpler things, such as vinyl records instead of streaming music.

But the truth is that the elderly can be just as savvy with technology as teenagers. And in fact, older adults are embracing technology in increasing numbers. The “active aging industry” in the United States, which focuses on a variety of emerging technologies for seniors, is expected to grow by a whopping $30 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association. And as the number of older adults more than doubles by 2050 – and those aged 50 or older represent more than 20% of the overall population – that technology will grow with them, creating an even larger boom in the business of staying connected[1].

Much of that deep desire for new technology is thanks to COVID and the fact that so many elderly (along with everyone else) were often kept isolated in their homes, unable to see family and friends. As a result, the elderly learned how to use technology they might not have considered before, such as Zoom meetings and FaceTime. They were highly motivated to learn so they could stay connected[2]. And it’s good for them: a study in the Journals of Gerontology found that older adults who use the internet reduce their risk of depression by 30%.

New Innovations for Better Senior Living

Technology moves fast. What was hot yesterday is old news today. But while new technology often gets the lion’s share of attention, some devices, such as medical alerts, get an update for today’s more modern world. Here’s a look at new technologies as well as some existing ones that have been modernized.  

Robotic Companions

When the first robotic pets hit the market, it was expected that they would be a booming business among young kids. Imagine the surprise when the largest market turned out to be seniors! Robotic pets provide consistent engagement, companionship, and the ability to calm, soothe, and provide happiness to those who play with them.

Some of these robotic pets are incredibly realistic, with sensors throughout that allow them to interact appropriately. For example, companion pets from Joy For All respond to touch. The cats roll over and make 32 different types of purring sounds, while the puppy’s heartbeat actually slows down if you rest your hand on its back[3].

But there are also robotic companions that don’t take the form of pets. The ElliQ is a unique little robot that can keep seniors engaged. It sits on a base next to a tablet and notes when a person enters the room or says its name. It can then engage in quite unique ways, such as checking the weather and asking if a walk is in order, accepting photos from family and friends through an app to display on its screen, and even saying “good morning” in 117 different ways.

Medical Alerts

Today’s medical alert technology is sleek, streamlined, and attractive, fitting in with a wide variety of clothing styles. But one of the most important innovations is the medical alert watch. This watch looks just like any other on the wrist, but provides a powerhouse of technology, with a built-in SOS button and GPS for location services. Emergency button alarms, especially those with fall detection, provide peace of mind to both the elderly and their family caregivers.

Medicine Management Systems

As we get older, the pill bottles lined up on our countertop seem to multiply. It can quickly become difficult to keep track of all those medications, and that can lead to serious consequences if medications aren’t taken – or if you happen to take too much. Medication management systems can help alleviate this worry.

The PillPack, a new innovation from Amazon, provides pre-packaged daily packs of pills for chronic medications. Alert1’s medication reminder, organizer, and dispenser is another option – it’s a small device that sits on a countertop and holds up to 28 doses of medication. The device sends alerts when it’s time to take a dose. These are just a few of the innovations that can potentially make a senior’s life much easier.

Mobility Devices

The need for mobility devices, such as walkers, becomes more acute as we get older. Medications, injuries, or the simple fact of aging can make us more prone to falls or accidents. We get unsteady on our feet and physical support becomes necessary to stay safe. Mobility devices are often paired with a PERS device, or personal emergency response solution, to enhance the safety aspect.

The good news is that mobility devices are at the heart of new innovations that make them safer, more versatile, and much more attractive. For instance, the Foray “Spring” is a much more stylish option that has the added benefit of improving posture. Speaking of posture, the UpWalker helps to keep individuals upright as they move with the support they need. Want to get around on all sorts of terrain and stay as active as possible? Mobility assistance from Volaris can be a game-changer.

Specialized Tablets

Okay, there’s all this great senior technology that allows users to stay connected, but how can they use it if they have some issues with mobility in their hands? For instance, those with arthritis might find it very difficult to tap the tiny icons on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Or those with memory or cognitive issues might find it tough to remember what icon to press to get to what they need.

Specialized tablets to the rescue! The GrandPad is a good example of fun gadgets for seniors – a no-frills tablet with easy-to-touch icons and simplistic categories that make navigation surprisingly easy. You can use the built-in games, stream music, receive photos and videos from family, and even use video chat that works for multiple parties at once. Support agents are always ready, 24/7, to help with any problems. The GrandPad is just one example of a wide variety of technology for seniors made easy.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, or VR, became popular many years ago as a way to engage patients in a variety of therapies. Virtual reality is now moving forward by leaps and bounds, with innovations happening so quickly that it’s tough to keep up with the latest trends. What remains consistent, however, is the use of VR to help those undergoing physical therapy after suffering from a stroke, brain injury, and more. An example of this is the NeuroRehab therapy systems, which not only assist patients in their exercises, but report on their progress in real time[4].

Using virtual reality might actually be better for patients, as it turns the therapy into a game – and that can keep them engaged long enough to not only complete what they need to do to get better, but might also keep them engaged for longer, allowing for even more therapy. Some of the games are quite fun and challenging, like being tasked with pulling items off grocery store shelves or parking a vehicle in a certain position.

Expect to see enormous innovations in this area!

Better Health Monitoring

Finally, let’s talk about some of the more unique technology hitting the market right now, specifically for assisting with monitoring the health of the elderly. One of the most unique is known as TrueLoo. It’s a toilet seat that attaches to any toilet and keeps track of a patient’s bathroom habits, but especially their bowel movements.

This technology can scan the bowl and send that information – including the size, color, frequency, shape, and consistency of the bowel movement – to an appropriate person, such as a professional caregiver or medical team. Why does this matter? The information can reveal a variety of issues, including dehydration, norovirus, urinary tract infections, and some diseases[5]. By catching problems quickly, TrueLoo can help prevent hospitalizations and even emergency department visits.

More Innovations are Coming

Technology moves quickly, and what’s new today will be old tomorrow. But that doesn’t mean it’s not useful! Remember, the best medical alert systems and similar devices for seniors living alone have been on the market for decades. During that time, they have undergone a variety of changes, such as adding fall detection technology and becoming safer, more affordable, and more attractive. Watch for great changes in this technology and many others in the years ahead.

And, as always, Alert1 is standing by 24/7/365 to offer security and peace of mind for our members.