Technology

7/7/2022 | By Kari Smith

Many seniors rely on technology every day for well-being, safety, and pure fun. Here’s some of the top technology for seniors – easy and inexpensive enough for general use.

Three out of four adults over the age of 50 use technology to stay connected, according to a 2022 survey by AARP. From their 50s to adults in their 70s, over 70% of each of these groups say they rely on today’s ever-changing technology. 

The learning curve can be steep in evolving technology, with newer versions of operating systems, phones, and other hardware, software, and apps constantly requiring continuous change on some level to keep up. This look at current technology trends may help you choose options that work for you without needing a new college degree each time a new update is released!

Use your own personal assistant

Alexa has become a household name, and why not? With the ability to tell you the weather, play your choice of music, remind you of calendar events, and much more, she’s a pretty handy gal. Place an Alexa anywhere in your home where you would like to interact with it – such as a central living space – or go a little crazy like me, and also have one in each bedroom, the office, and even the bathroom – because who doesn’t want to listen to music or news while getting ready in the morning? An Alexa device with a screen can even facilitate conversations with friends and family.

Google Assistant is available for those who prefer Google Home products. Even integrate personal assistance with safety by adding features such as SmartCompanion care to your home assistance device, and you’ll be able to call for emergency help or initiate a video chat simply by speaking.

Communicate

couple using Zoom on computer. Photo by Monkey Business Images, Dreamstime. Seniors Guide recommends top technology for seniors, for well-being, safety, and pure fun – easy and inexpensive enough for general use.

Staying connected is vitally important for emotional health and well-being, especially for homebound seniors and those who live alone. Easy-to-learn video chatting platforms such as Zoom facilitate virtual communication with friends, family – or even business or meetings with your doctor. Have an iPhone or other Apple product, such as an iPad or Mac computer? Use the FaceTime app to instantly connect with your friends who also have an Apple device – even if they are halfway around the world! This software can also be used to connect to more than one person, and is my easy go-to app for video chatting with my four sisters simultaneously.

Stay Safe!

Technology that supports senior safety is a popular choice that may help put you and your loved ones’ minds at ease. This is especially true for a senior’s family who lives far away, or who is otherwise concerned for their health and safety. Some examples include medical monitoring, fall alarms, heart rate detectors, or home safety technology.

Home security systems, such as my preferred system SimpliSafe, offer not only standard window and door sensors, but also the ability to add indoor and outdoor cameras to your setup. These cameras can be easily viewed on your smart phone; instant notifications can be sent to your device, alerting you to an event that may be suspicious. Loved ones can also have access to these systems, ensuring an extra layer of safety. Many of these systems are wireless and offer simple, affordable DIY installation. More simple systems, such as the Ring video doorbell, alert you to movement at your door – so that you can be alerted to someone trying to gain access to your home. Bonus: talk to your visitor from the doorbell’s app – whether you’re home or away.

Get help at home

Smart home lighting, such as Philips Hue, allows you to turn on the lights without having to find the switch – something I find very practical when stepping into my closet with an arm full of laundry. In addition, they can turn on lights automatically, dim them or change their colors, and create “scenes” for when you are away from home. And that’s not all … 

Lifelike robotic pets (can you even believe it?) can snuggle with you in front of the TV, and smart vacuums – such as the iRobot Roomba or a Shark robot – vacuum the floor for you. Most of these robot vacuum systems can be integrated into your phone or synced with Alexa, so that vacuuming the floor only requires saying the word or setting a timer. Where was that when I was growing up?

Listen up!

Although “silence is golden,” sometimes we want a little noise. It may be habit to just turn on the TV, but there are so many more options such as listening to a podcast or audiobook, jamming to a favorite album, or checking out the evening news. If you don’t have a home assistant such as Alexa or Google Assistant, you can still connect your phone to a portable Bluetooth speaker such as the Bose portable wireless speaker that allows you to take your “noise” with you – even outside! Look for a waterproof options, such as the JBL Flip 4, if you plan to use it outdoors gardening, by the pool, or any other application where it may get wet. Although a quick Amazon search will quickly reveal many other more affordable options, keep in mind that you get what you pay for.

Related: How to listen to podcasts

Have fun!

A plethora of entertainment awaits, right at your fingertips, games and apps that can be played not just for fun, but to also reduce stress and mentally challenge yourself. You may also choose a game – such as Words with Friends – that allows you to interact with others as you play. Classics such as Solitaire and Uno are always fun, or choose a newer game such as Wordle or Elevate. Learning is even fun with apps such as Duolingo, which can help you learn a new language. Most of these games and apps can be played either on your phone or home computer. 

Related: How to play Wordle – and why

Free online games for seniors

Although changing technology can be challenging for folks of any age, once you get over the initial learning curve, you will likely be grateful for the convenience, interaction, and ease these gadgets provide.

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith