In the 40’s a phone was positioned on your kitchen wall, and your phone number was a few digits. You had ‘party lines’ meaning you could pick up the headpiece and hear that Susie Thompson down the road was talking to her best friend, Tilly. You would have to politely ask Susie if she could end her call so you could make a call. In the 60’s and 70’s the phone became a fashion piece in the home. Robin egg blue and harvest gold phones were situated in living rooms and dens all across the nation, and instead of rotary dials, there were push buttons that you pressed to make your call. No longer were you on a party line, but you had your phone line to yourself and could call anyone at any time without having to wait for your neighbor to get off the phone. Today our phones not only call someone, we now have the universe at our fingertips with the internet and web. At first, this was shocking, hard to understand, foreign and even those who were tech savvy were unsure what data was or even roaming charges. That has all changed!
Today 80% of seniors, 65 and older, own a phone. More than 60 percent own a computer or laptop.
Today, technology is benefiting and helping seniors by allowing them to be in touch with not only family and friends but also allowing them to engage in activities that are in the reach of their own hand. With iPhones and Androids, there are hundreds of helpful apps for everyday use, including topics on safety, learning, and so much more. The list below is just a sampling of some that help improve senior lives.
- EyeReader: An app that acts as a magnifying glass for reading, allowing you to see small fonts.
- Park ‘n’ Forget: Parking lots can be confusing and all of us know that feeling “where did I park?” Trying to locate your car out of a hundred others is no longer a problem with the Park ‘n’ Forget app. All you have to do is put in what floor, aisle, or section you’re on, and it creates a simple map that will easily lead you back. The app also monitors the amount of time you have spent in metered parking spots.
- Pillboxie: An app that easily helps you to remember your meds. The nice thing about the app is that it “visually” helps you remember. You can customize your pills by color and dragging and dropping them into the virtual pillbox. This will help you remember to take your medication at the scheduled time you set and also help you remember if you have taken that pill.
- Lumosity: Aging often affects our memory. This can frustrate many seniors who wish to stay mentally active. The app Lumosity is an easy way to keep your mind sharp which contains hundreds of puzzles and games. It was designed by neurologists and is proven to help memory recall and information retention.
- Facebook: Seniors can now stay in contact with their grandchildren, children, and friends. They can post what they are doing as well and have a sense of being in contact with loved ones by posting and messaging.
- Yesterday USA – Old Time Radio: Such a fun app if you are a fan of old time radio. This FREE app offers up radio shows from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
Here is a sampling of technological advances that are focused on aging Americans needs.
- Edema socks: based on a Danish company called Ohmatex, these socks can detect and notify the person wearing them of swollen feet and edema. Most of the time this is a sign of illness or other health problems.
- Shoes that prevent falls: researchers have concluded that vibrating the insoles in your shoes can improve balance and stability, making a fall 70 percent less likely. Although the study concluded these findings as useful, we will have to wait because no company is manufacturing them quite yet.
- Shirts that conduct CPR: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is currently conducting a shirt that would be able to sense a heart attack and then administer CPR. It is estimated that this shirt won’t be completely ready for about 15 years, but shirts with sensors are already on the market.
- Self-driving cars: Most seniors fear the day when they won’t be able to drive anymore, losing a sense of their independence. However, Google is already testing self-driving cars, which use sensors to assess the environment around them and software to do the actual driving. The cars are still in the experimental stage, but it is predicted they will be available within a decade or so.