Seniors today have access to a vast array of new electronics. Their generation has seen the most drastic development in modern technology throughout their lives; the advancements have been so rapid, in fact, that a modern smartphone has more computing power than all of the combined NASA computers used to send men on the moon in 1969. These developments in technology can be very beneficial to Montreal seniors, especially those who don’t have proper home care. Here are just some of the ways that elders can improve their health, happiness, and safety while living at home, using modern electronics.
According to Statistics Canada, only 18% of Canadian seniors (75 years or older) own a smartphone. This is unfortunate, because smartphones have many useful day-to-day functions that can improve a senior’s quality of life; for example, there are hundreds of apps that can help with tracking medicine use, logging exercise and diet, making grocery lists, or simply writing down notes to help remember daily tasks. There’s also the added benefit of being in contact with family, friends, caregivers, and emergency services at all times. These handheld devices can take photos, play music, set daily alarms, check the weather, and even use GPS directions to help seniors get around town safely and without getting lost. The best part? All of this convenience fits in your pocket!
(Note: For seniors with reduced vision, smartphones have the option to increase the font size on the screen. For those with impaired hearing, earbuds are a great way to make phone calls easier.)
Skype and FaceTime
These applications allow seniors to make video calls to friends, family, and grandchildren anywhere in the world, using a computer or iPhone. This can benefit elders by connecting them to loved ones outside of Montreal, helping them keep in touch over long distances.
One of the most commonly used pieces of technology for seniors in Canada are Personal Emergency Response Systems, commonly called medical alarms. These often come in the form of bracelets or necklaces containing a button that can be pressed in the case of emergencies. Once the alarm is set off, the alarm company will be notified, and can send medical personnel to the elderly user’s home. This is especially useful if a senior lives alone without a caregiver, or is at a high risk of injury from falling.
There are several other safety devices that can make a senior’s home more secure, including doorbell cameras, alarm systems, and remote-access systems.
What once would have been considered an impossible fantasy of science fiction is now reality. Devices like the Google Home and Amazon Alexa can be easily installed in a home, and are entirely voice-controlled. This means that a senior can simply speak commands to the device, removing the need to navigate often confusing screens and buttons. These virtual assistants can read the news, do math and conversions, tell you the weather, play music, read books, order food, create grocery lists, report the news, and much more! On top of this, they can control certain devices in the home, such as the heat and lights, so a senior can simply tell their device to turn the lights on or off, or adjust the heat as they desire. This makes living at home easier for the elderly, since it removes the need for getting up and manually adjusting these settings. It can also help to prevent falls; if a senior has to get up to use the bathroom at night, they can ask their Alexa or Google Home to turn on the lights, which is much safer than having to search for the light switch in the dark.
Modern science is making the daily life of seniors easier with every new invention. One benefit of having internet access, for example, is the use of food delivery services. These companies will delivery boxes of fresh ingredients and recipes right to your home, eliminating the need to go out and buy groceries. Considering how dangerous it is for seniors in Montreal to use roads and sidewalks during the winter, ordering-in fresh food thanks to these online services is a much safer way to get groceries.
As it turns out, video games aren’t just great for entertainment; according to a study by the University of Montreal (UdeM), playing video games could potentially help maintain cognitive function in seniors.
At the beginning of the study, the seniors in the experiment group were taught how to play a 3D platform video game. The seniors in the active control group were similarly taught how to use the piano keyboard and learning software, and the no-contact group were left without any special instructions. All members of the groups were given an MRI brain scan and took cognitive skills tests before the experiment began. The first two groups were tasked with playing either the piano keyboard or the video game for at least a half hour per day, 5 days per week. The experiment ran for a total of 6 months. At the end of this half-year period, the same cognitive skill tests and MRI scans from the beginning of the experiment were conducted again and compared to the initial results.
By the end of the study, the results were clear: The seniors who played the 3D platform game performed higher on the cognitive skill tests, showed an increase in short-term memory, levels of grey matter in the hippocampus and cerebellum, and a prevention of deteriorating grey matter in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC).
These three parts of the brain are responsible for healthy cognition, memory, balance and motor control, planning and decision-making. The fact that simply playing video games for 30 minutes per day increased the health of these areas of the brain is significant: A decrease in grey matter in the brain, specifically the hippocampus and cerebellum, are directly linked to balance issues and disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This study thus shows that playing 3d platforming video games helps prevent the risk of these disorders, and to maintain strong cognitive functions.
(While video games are fun, they’re always more fun with a friend.)
The Intimidation Factor of New Technology
Overall, it’s clear that there are many ways in which these new electronics can benefit seniors. Why, then, are so few elderly Canadians making use of technology? Well, the answer probably lies in just how unfamiliar all of this is to them. With these technological advancements having been made so rapidly in recent years, jumping into using a smartphone, tablet or laptop can be intimidating. This is why it’s important to have a family member or caregiver who can help teach the senior to use their devices. A caregiver can help by setting up their phone, tablet or computer, typing up emails for seniors with reduced dexterity, and showing them how to use applications like FaceTime and Skype.
Approaching modern technology with help is less intimidating than doing so alone. We have a team of qualified and professional Montreal caregivers ready to help you or an elderly loved one with home care, physical care, and companion care. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation!