The Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging (MA4) was founded in 1973 to serve the best interests of senior citizens in our state. One of our constant goals is to provide the services and tools seniors need to live independently in their own homes for as long as they can. But the term “independence” does not mean isolation.
In fact, regular interaction with other people is critical in being able to live a healthy, productive and enjoyable life. Through the M4, we regularly provide congregate and home-delivered meal services, opportunities for social interaction through our senior centers and opportunities for travel, group activities and access to health and practical lifestyles resources.
Over the course of the last few years, however, mobile technology has emerged as another important way for seniors to access vital health care and emergency services, stay in touch with friends and family, stay up-to-date on news and meetings and even stay mentally and physically active.
In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 87% of individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 and 76% of people over the age of 65 now own mobile devices. Apparently, cell phones and tablets are not just for “kids” anymore.
Health care and emergencies
We all remember the old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials of the past. Today, seniors using technology have substantially more opportunities in terms of reliable access to health and emergency services.
One such option is Verizon’s Sure Response system. It provides seniors with 24/7 access to loved ones or emergency personnel with the touch of a single button. It features a small, wearable device that combines GPS location technology with a dedicated Web portal that allows any individual to set up profiles and send location information easily.
And because it works over the Verizon Wireless network, no separate broadband or Internet connection is required. It provides great peace of mind for seniors who live independently, but need that instant link to help should an emergency arise.
Smart seniors have also begun to rely on their cell phones for health related activities that used to require a variety of different devices. Now you can simply download a new app and your phone is transformed into a handy medical resource.
One example is the HeartWise Blood Pressure Tracker. Available for both the iPhone and iPad, this app allows you to easily record your current blood pressure at any given time, measure your resting heart rate and record your weight. Measured daily, over time, the app provides you and your doctor with a helpful profile if blood pressure is an issue.
Also available is Pillboxie. This app with the funny name helps seniors remember to take specific medicines at the appropriate times. It is customizable and allows users to color code different medications for further ease of use. A simple alarm lets you know when the time is right to take your meds.
Finally, there is EyeReader. This ingenious app uses the camera in your phone, along with the built-in light, to transform your smartphone into a magnifying glass. Looking up small phone numbers or reading the small print in a favorite recipe is easy. Simply point the phone’s camera at the information you need and it is displayed clearly on the screen of your phone.
Smartphones and mobile technology don’t replace the need for seniors to receive regular health check-ups and consultations with professional health care providers. But, technology can help seniors follow the good advice they receive from their doctors and live independently and safely in their own homes.
In the next part of our series, we’ll look at how mobile and wireless can help seniors using technology stay both mentally and physically active.