New and improved technology is giving seniors more autonomy, deeper social engagement, and greater access to stimulating activities that help them stay physically and mentally sharp.
According to a 2012 Pew Research survey, more than half of seniors are now using the Internet and own cellphones. Seniors have also taken a liking to e-readers. Techzone360.com highlights a recent study that shows that seniors with e-readers spend more time reading and experience more brain activity than their younger counterparts.
WebMD reports that “Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans aged 65 and older.” Thanks to the way new technologies can foster regular connection with loved ones and provide intellectual stimulation, the latest gadgets and platforms hold huge potential for improving our quality of life as we age.
Tablets are the new all-in-one devices for consuming content and interacting on social media. Stock a tablet with apps for gaming, health and wellness, news, music, socialization and more, and it becomes your window into a universe of entertainment and information. Tablets are also a great way for seniors to view photos, read books, and learn new information.
Tablets are also very user friendly. They’re lightweight, the touch screens are intuitive, and fonts are customizable for easy reading.
Our go-to favorite
Apple’s iPad mini. This tablet offers a simple, easy-to-use interface with more app selection than any other operating system. Since it is miniature, it’s lighter and smaller than the regular iPad. Seniors with joint weaknesses might find they can operate the tablet more easily than the larger ones.
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Many people—and often seniors—find that looking at LCD tablet screens can strain their eyes. If this is the case, an e-reader might be a better option than a tablet—particularly those devices with E Ink technology. E Ink screens do not emit light. Instead, like regular books and printed material, light is reflected off the surface. This makes e-readers much better suited for outdoor reading, because there is very little glare from sunlight. However, if you are reading indoors, you will need a light source.
E-readers using E Ink technology also have very long battery lives thanks to the “bistable” display. Bistable means that the image on the screen is retained even when the power is switched off. This energy efficiency contrasts with most tablets, which must refresh the screen about 30 times per second—even when nothing on the display is changing.
E-readers are often less expensive than tablets. While web surfing might be limited on a tablet, you can buy and store thousands of books on an e-reader. It’s basically a portable library!
Our go-to favorite
The Kindle Paperwhite. This e-reader doesn’t require an outside light source to read it. It contains an adjustable backlight and allows users to easily change font size and read outside without the glare one would normally experience with a tablet.
Also, Amazon, the creator of Kindle, has a live tech support service called Mayday. Seniors who are still getting used to their device can easily receive help.
Video game systems
Teenagers aren’t the only ones who get a kick out of video games these days. Gizmag.com reports on a study from the University of Iowa stating “that by playing a specific video game, test subjects aged 50 and over were able to stop and even reverse the trend” of cognitive decline.
Video games use problem-solving skills, encourage socialization, and are just plain fun for seniors!
Our go-to favorite
The Nintendo Wii. It was the first major console to use motion-sensor controls. The gameplay is surprisingly intuitive and requires just enough effort to keep senior users active without putting them at major risk of injury. Wii Bowling has emerged as a favorite of seniors across the country. See how residents at Arte Resort Retirement Community are competing in an online Wii Bowling tournament in Scottsdale!
As technologies continue to advance, it’s important to remember that their purpose is always to make life simpler—not more complicated. Devices like Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, and Nintendo’s Wii are doing just that, and seniors are reaping the benefits like never before.
Kimberly Barnes, a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, is a web marketing consultant and kitchen chef. Her passion (aside from cooking) is helping organizations connect holistically to their constituents by way of social media engagement, content marketing and CRM. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.