The largest generation in history–the Boomers–is reaching retirement age. In previous decades this might mean a steady uptick in the crowd at bingo night. The Boomers, however, are more active than any retired generation that came before them, and that is all largely thanks to the advances in technology that they made during their working careers. Advances that are going to continue at top pace thanks to the younger generations who will keep innovating. Today’s retirees have all sorts of fancy gadgetry to help them stay active and engaged.
They’ve Fallen And They’re Getting Back Up
Don’t lie, you know exactly which commercial I’m talking about. The medical alert system that made it possible for seniors to contact emergency services when they fell or were injured helped everybody feel better about Mom and Dad (or Grandma and Grandpa) choosing to live independently. The Boomer generation has taken the original medical alert system for elderly people and stepped it up with wearable mobile alert tech so that, no matter where someone is if they fall or have an emergency they can get help.
Fitbits and Smart watches are just the beginning when it comes to monitoring the health of the elderly population. While step trackers and basic vital stat monitoring apps are widely available to everyone, doctors and scientists are taking these ideas and turbo-charging them. GE, for example, has technology that allows caregivers to monitor their patient’s’ vitals and activity levels remotely. If someone hasn’t moved in a while or their vitals go wonky, they can check in on that person to make sure that he or she is okay. Another fantastic advancement has been the adoption of GPS enabled wearable tech for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. This way if someone wanders off or gets turned around, they can quickly and easily be located.
Beyond monitoring, there have also been practical applications for wearable tech. For example, scientists have developed shoes that use vibrating insoles to help improve the wearer’s stability and balance. These shoes can reduce the likelihood of elderly falls exponentially.
An elderly person’s physical health isn’t the only area in which technology is improving things. A retiree’s emotional and mental health are also aided by advances in tech. Today’s video conferencing apps are incredibly simple to operate and they allow retirees who might otherwise be isolated (due to immobility, living in remote areas, etc) to be social and engaged. There are even online communities that cater specifically to the older generation and the issues that concern them.
Video conferencing technology like Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc., also make it easier for retirees to keep in touch with their families and loved ones. They can watch their grandchildren play and even “attend” events without leaving their homes.
Catering to Changing Needs
Tech manufacturers are working to develop senior-issue-specific fixes to some of the barriers that had previously made the elderly wary or even unable to take advantage of the web, entertainment, etc. A good example of this is BigKeys, a company that makes computer keyboards with bigger keys so that people with arthritis or joint issues can still type and use their computers. E-readers allow people to choose the font size and style that is easiest for them to read (a definite improvement on being relegated to the “large print” section of the library.
The Boomers are about to be the best connected and most technologically advanced generation of retirees in history. They are also the healthiest and longest living generation yet. It’s good to know that our loved ones will not have to suffer through a reduced quality of life just because they are aging.