Technology and seniors sometimes don’t mix. I mean, how many times have you had to call your aunt to tell her she accidentally posted a picture of her lap on Facebook?
Younger generations are always learning new ways that tech can help make their lives easier, more meaningful, more entertaining. But seniors can benefit from tech as well – and since much of it is simple or customizable, you shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss this opportunity because you think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Here’s a brief roundup of the items I recommend for seniors and their families to get the most out of this increasingly connected and high-tech world.
Apple Watch Series 4 with fall detection: The latest Apple Watch Series 4 detects significant falls. The watch will display an alert for the wearer to either contact emergency services or dismiss the alert. What I particularly like is that if no action is taken within a minute of the fall, the watch will automatically alert emergency services and then send a notification to the wearer’s emergency contacts.
I recommend this product for seniors who are for the most part independent and mobile, but are looking for some sort of safety net. Family members can rest assured that in the event of an accident, their elderly loved one will get the emergency care they need.
The watch comes with a wide array of watch bands that are fastened with Velcro or magnetic closures, so it’s easy even for those with dexterity problems. $399 at apple.com.
Nest Cam: This video-surveillance system works well for monitoring an elderly loved one who lives alone. Nest Cam detects movement and notifies family members of any unusual activity. For an extra $100 a year, you get access to Nest Cam’s video-recording option. I love Nest because it has a two-way audio option, so family members can leave reminders in real time for their loved ones, such as, “Mom, don’t forget to take your afternoon meds with food!” $199 at bedbathandbeyond.com.
GoGo Grandparent: This service makes Uber and Lyft available to seniors without requiring a smartphone. It’s low tech meets high tech at its best. Grandma just calls the Gogo Grandparent number on her cell or landline, presses 1 to input her destination, and the service sends an Uber or Lyft. GGG saves the caller’s information, so when they’re ready to go home, they simply call the number again and push 2.
This is a fabulous option for those who want to be mobile and independent but no longer drive. Prices vary by region. gogograndparent.com.
MedHelper: This app-based reminder system is more for tech-savvy caregivers than for seniors themselves. If organizing meds feels burdensome and you find yourself looking for a better system than a slotted pillbox, this is worth a download and trial. The app provides reminders and helps track scheduling. medhelperapp.com.
Portal: Facebook recently announced the launch of Portal, a smart display geared towards improving the video-chat experience. I love Facebook Portal because the device can be used to video call other Facebook users, and follows the movements of the user so you never lose touch with the person on the other side. You don’t even have to move yourself or the camera – it automatically detects and tracks the person on the other screen. It’s perfect for calling the grandkids during dinner time — even if they leave the table. It even comes in two sizes, the Portal and the larger Portal+. $149 or $299 at portal.facebook.com.
NAOMI FINK COTRONE runs the Right at Home Rhode Island agency, where she focuses on providing care to elderly and disabled adults. If you need help with anything on social media, she can’t help you – but her teenagers will.