Technology has come a long way over the last 20 years or so. The internet, for example, has opened up so many doors for older people and can benefit their lives in a huge number of ways.
Most young people find it easy to use modern technology because they have grown up using it. Older adults on the other hand can sometimes find it difficult to understand how modern technology works, or how it can be used to their benefit.
Alongside the internet and mobile devices, health and mobility technology for older people has also improved dramatically over the past decade. Alongside our personal alarm, there are so many Telehealth products to choose from as well as new ways to get around.
In this blog post we will look at some examples of technology that can help older people, explaining what they are, how they work and how they can benefit you.
Are Older People using new Technology?
Although they might find it difficult at first, older people are beginning to use modern technology. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, 41% of adults aged 75 years and over were recent internet users in this year’s study. In the findings, recent internet use among women aged 75 and over had almost trebled from 2011.
Recent internet use in the 65-74 age group has increased from 52% in 2011 to 78% in 2017, which means older people are closing the usage gap on younger age groups. Older people aren’t just using their computers either, they’re branching out into mobile phones and tablets.
According to the communications regulator’s Audits’ Media Use and Attitudes report, more than a quarter (27%) of people over the age of 75 now use tablets – an increase of 15% from 2015. The same report found that 41% of people aged over 75 have a social media account.
Although these reports are promising, there are still plenty of older people who feel intimidated by technology. Perhaps more needs to be done to help boost these numbers even further, such as more classes aimed directly at older people. It’s important that older people are eased into using the internet and devices such as tablets and mobiles, rather than just assuming that they would know how to use them.
When we talk about modern technology for older people, the internet is arguably the most difficult to get to grips with. The ‘world wide web’ has only been around for the last 20 years or so, which means older people will not have grown up with or worked with it like young people have.
The BBC Web Wise website defines the internet as:
A network of computers that works much like the postal system, only at sub-second speeds. Just as the postal service enables people to send one another envelopes containing messages, the internet enables computers to send one another small packets of digital data.”
The internet opens up a whole range of opportunity for older people, depending on how much you wish to do. With a internet connection you can:
- Order your weekly shop direct to your front door.
- Video chat with your friends and family over Skype.
- Share photographs on social media websites such as Instagram.
- Play video games with friends – keeping your brain activities in the process.
- Organise all your bills and bank accounts.
- Watch TV shows and movies through website such as Netflix.
The possibilities are endless. The internet can help to prevent boredom, keep you connected with friends and family and help you to stay organised.
When we talk about mobile phones, most people instantly think of teenagers or younger people. Although they are the most common users of mobile phones, it would be wrong to assume that they can’t play a part in later life.
Mobile phone technology is becoming more important for older people. Traditional landline phone connections are being phased out and may even be removed from all homes very soon.
The type of mobile phone you require will depend on how much you want to do with it, as well as your physical condition. There are plenty of devices which have been manufactured specifically for elderly use. The most common type is the big button phone. There’s nothing fancy about these phones. They have big buttons, making them easier to use for people with arthritis or sight issues, and clear bright screens with big font sizes. Other simple mobiles like these include useful accessories such as a torch.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to try some of the latest technology it may be worth buying a smartphone. These devices are filled with great apps to help keep you safe, entertained and connected to your friends and family. App is short for application, which is a form of computer program. They have been designed to give people access to information or games without having to visit a website. This makes the process simpler and quicker.
Examples of helpful mobile phone apps include:
- Skype – A video calling app which makes it easier to see your children, grandchildren or loved ones no matter where they are around the world. The app is free to download and works using your mobile phone’s data or Wi-Fi.
- Pill Reminder Pro – An app which will sound an alert when it’s time to take your medication. It will also tell you which medication you should be taking at this time.
- Pocket Physio – Developed by Care UK, this app gives advice on the workouts you should be doing to keep yourself fit and healthy.
- Various Games – Challenging games to help keep your brain active, which is ideal to avoid the onset of dementia.
Don’t forget that your family or friends will happy to teach you how to get to grips with a smartphone. There are also online guides to help you understand your new phone. To ensure you stay safe with your new device, please see our guide to preventing mobile phone scams.
Since the launch of the iPad in 2010, tablets have become very common in UK households. Tablets are essentially devices that sit between laptops and mobile phones. They have been designed so that you can pick them up and surf the internet in seconds.
No more waiting for your laptop or PC to start. No more having to sit with a relatively heavy, and hot, computer on your knees. Most tablets look similar to their mobile phone siblings, whether they are based on the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy.
Some tablets now even come with a detachable keyboard, just in case you’re uncomfortable using the touch screen. You can also buy special pens to use, rather than your fingers, if you so wish. Some of the benefits of owning a tablet include:
- Bigger Screens – Perfect if you have any vision issues.
- Amazing Apps – You can watch movies, play games and chat with friends over a video call – all from the comfort of your sofa.
- Affordable – Tablets are generally cheaper than laptops and desktop computers.
- Great for Gaming – Through the app store you can download and play many games with your friends.
- Mobility – Tablets don’t weigh much and they are a decent size. This means you can carry it around the house or take it on public transport with ease.
Technology doesn’t need to be scary. The software on most tablets is easy and simple to use and to understand. In fact, if you already own a mobile phone from the same company you probably won’t even need to look at any instructions.
There are now various types of fitness devices available to help track your daily progress. Fitness trackers are worn around the wrist like a watch, or a lifeline pendant, and will monitor your activity throughout the day.
Most devices can track the following:
- Number of steps.
- Calories burnt.
- Heart rate.
- Sleeping patterns.
Some devices, such as the Fitbit Surge, come with GPS and can connect with your Android or Apple mobile phone. Some devices are also waterproof so that you can use them while swimming, with battery ranges varying between three to five days.
A fitness tracker will help you from the moment you buy one, as it will give you motivation to get out there and start adding to your steps. It is quite common for people to set-up challenges with their friends and family, to see who can reach a certain target first.
A good idea would be to wear your device while having a game of regular or walking football. This way you can try to set targets to help boost your performance on the pitch.
We’ve already talked briefly about some of the apps that are available on your mobile phone and tablet, now let’s take a closer look. The term ‘app’ is short for application. Apps are a type of computer program which allows people to access information quicker.
There are many different types of app available on both the Android and iOS marketplace. Common types of app include:
- News Apps – All major newspapers and TV news outlets have apps to help break news stories quicker and to help you find the news you’re looking for.
- Weather Apps – It’s always good to have the forecast at a click of a button.
- Games – There are so many games to choose from. Playing games will prevent boredom and keeps your brain active.
- Social Media – Stay in touch with friends and family through the Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or Skype app.
- Shopping – More and more online stores, such as Asos, now have apps. This makes it even quicker to place an order without leaving home.
- Music, Film & TV – There are plenty of streaming apps to choose from. Streaming is a way of transmitting data from the internet, directly onto your device without needing to download it. Popular examples include BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
Apps can make life much easier, but they are also great for your safety. There are many apps designed specifically to help older people stay safe at home. There are various healthcare apps which can manage your medication. You can set alarms which be make a sound and tell you which part of your medication you need to take.
There is a huge marketplace for health and mobility technology for older people. Of course, one of the most valuable is our life-saving personal alarm device. Our service allows older people and disabled people to continue living independently in the comfort of their own homes.
By wearing a pendant around your neck or wrist, you are ensuring that you can get help instantly if you feel unwell or suffer a fall. Our Care Team work 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure that they are always on hand to help you.
Health monitoring can also be vital in protecting the well-being of older people. For example, people who have suffered from heart problems can have a heart rate and/or blood pressure monitor in their home. This piece of technology can take heart rate and blood pressure measurements so that you, your family and your carers/doctors can check on your condition.
Some other great examples of mobility technology for older people include:
- Stairlifts – Stairlifts enable you to get up and down the stairs with ease, without the risk of falling. Installing a stairlift is a great way of staying safe at home.
- Scooters – Mobility scooters are great for people who struggle to walk long distances. A scooter is ideal if you have arthritis, osteoporosis or Paget’s disease of the bone. Most scooters also come with a basket for you to store your shopping bags.
- Electric Wheelchairs – Alternatively you can purchase an electric wheelchair in order to get around. By having an electric wheelchair you don’t have to waste energy wheeling yourself, nor do you require somebody to push you. This gives you more independence.
Technology for Older People
We hope that this blog post has opened your eyes to the technology that’s out there. All of the technology mentioned can help older people to improve their physical and mental well-being, as well as their social lives.
Apps and social media can help to prevent loneliness, whilst the internet can help make it easier to shop and to manage your bills. If you struggle with mobility, scooters and stairlifts can help ease the pressure on your bones. By using modern technology, you are keeping up with the world and will lose the fear that you once had about it.
As previously mentioned in this blog article, one of the bests bit of technology for older people is the personal alarm system. For more information on purchasing one of our life-saving personal alarms, please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400.
Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 28, 2017. Updated on December 20, 2018, to improve the information available.
Remember to use the discount code BLOG2018 when you order one of our personal alarm systems on a Monthly or Annual Plan to receive £10 off.