The whole term senior has really changed over the years. The older you get, the picture of “senior” really changes. I’m really not sure when 50 anything became a senior? I do have to admit, I don’t mind being a senior to get a discount at Shoppers Drug Mart, but really…senior? I really do believe that 70 today IS the new 50! With people living longer, working longer and having children later, senior has taken on a whole new meaning! The world is certainly changing and we are seeing how technology is serving seniors.
So, if we re-frame what we consider to be a senior, it should come as no surprise that 70% of seniors use technology today. More specifically 82% of people aged 65 to 69 have internet, while only 44% of those over 80 have it. Internet has allowed seniors to stay connected to family who live all over the globe these days especially through social networking. Learning to use technology has not been the barrier as much as the affordability of internet services. I do hope with ever changing technologies and more competition, internet will continue to become more affordable for all.
But more than just being social and staying connected, technology can help seniors in many aspects of their day to day living. As technology is moving towards more SMART homes, this could really benefit our aging population. Let’s look at Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home; these devices can do so many things to help seniors live in their Dufferin County homes independently. These virtual personal assistants can be programmed to help to make lists, automate things in the home, set reminders and be a sense of security. Let’s run through a day and see all the areas that a virtual personal assistant could help (Alexa for this demonstration).
7:00 am and Alexa acts as an alarm clock to wake you up. Alexa then tells you that it is Monday, October 7th, 2019, and gives you the news and weather for the day. At 8:00 am Alexa reminds you to test your blood sugar and take your insulin. After breakfast, you say “Alexa let’s do our exercises” and your virtual assistant walks you through your stretching program. Now you sit and ask Alex to either play music, read an audio book or play a trivia game to keep your mind sharp. You remember items you need to pick up at the grocery store so you say “Alexa, add bread, milk and eggs to the grocery list”. Your phone starts ringing and you have no idea where you left it, so you say “Alexa answer phone”. You have a conversation with your daughter who says she will pick you up for Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday at 2:00pm. You tell Alexa to add that to your calendar. You also can get Alexa to find your phone. It will make your phone alarm until you locate it. You think of how nice it is to go to see your family this weekend and you would like to get your grandchildren gifts before you go. You ask Alexa to order 3 toys from Amazon and they will arrive the next day on your doorstep. You have had a busy day and decide to take a nap but don’t want to get up to turn off the lights, conveniently you say, “Alexa, turn off bedroom light.” You have had a fantastic nap and get up but didn’t see the dog napping right next to your bed and you have a fall. Something doesn’t feel right and you are just unable to get up on your own and the phone is nowhere to be found. You call out to Alexa “call 911” and have help on the way. You also ask Alexa “unlock front door” and the emergency personnel get to you easily.
All of this is truly available now to help someone live independently. This is just the start of what technology is capable of doing in the home. Instead of being dinosaurs that fight change, seniors have been an age group that openly accept and are eager to learn.