New Tech for Old Timers

For people who have spent more than half their lives computer-less, new technology can seem overwhelming, intimidating. But as it continues to advance, it’s becoming much simpler to use and is making it possible for seniors and adults with disabilities to live more independently and longer in their own homes.

Many options, once set up, don’t require any computer knowledge for users. In fact, using them often is as simple as operating a television, touching a screen or putting on shoes. All of them increase safety and quality of life while giving loved ones peace of mind.

Here are some new technologies worth considering.

Programmable medicine dispensers. Several companies now produce medical dispensers that not only dispense the correct medication at the correct time but also include reminder alarms for the user and alert loved ones if a dose is missed. The sophistication of the systems range widely (from $50 to $300), so be sure to shop around and read user reviews.

Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It’s always important to have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in a home, but what if the occupant is hearing impaired? The Nest Protect system will sound an alarm in the home while also alerting a family member or neighbor who can make certain the occupant is safe.

Smart watch. Most everyone has seen the commercial: “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” But not everyone is interested in wearing a pendant. Now the same medical alert technology is discreetly built into many smart watches. The same watches can also function as fitness trackers and medication reminders. Better still, some can also detect if you’ve fallen or haven’t moved for a long period of time and alert caregivers.

GPS SmartSoles. Speaking of discretion, you can now buy a comfy sole insert that has built in GPS. This can be especially helpful for people with memory loss. The soles send a signal to caregivers’ phones, alerting them if wearers leave a certain perimeter and, through the GPS technology, pinpoint their location.

E-readers. For people who love to read but are visually impaired, e-readers can be a wonderful solution. Users can shop for new books directly from the device as well as find and read newspapers and a variety of other periodicals. The readers come with multiple font sizes to make reading easier, and second-generation Kindle and Kindle DX also feature a text-to-speech option.

GrandCare System. The GrandCare System might just be the granddaddy of all tech tools for seniors. The systems cost $699, plus $49 monthly subscription fees, but they pack in a lot of features. The GrandCare System has many of the same the features you’d find in other tools, such as smart watches and medicine dispensers, plus it can be used in any setting and can record blood pressure, weight, pulse, blood glucose and temperature. It’s a communication, care management and activity sensor all wrapped into one touchscreen device.

The technology available today to help seniors and people with disabilities live more independently and enjoyably is impressive. What’s even more impressive are additional tools now in development. Researchers and companies now are developing still more tools, ranging from smart clothing to smart walkers that come when called. As people are living longer, technology is only getting better.