How to Overcome Loneliness Using Technology?
As people get older, they will enter the new community and not socialize as much as young. Health issues also make it more difficult. They tend to shed family and friends; therefore, they will be isolated and face mental illness. Social isolation impacts health, increasing the risk of dementia, hospitalization, and mortality. With the senior population growth, more elders are experiencing loneliness.
A study demonstrates that the risk of isolation of seniors living alone at home is 43 percent. When they do not go to the office, they will lose social interaction. Those seniors who live on their own suffer from severe isolation. Seniors are valuable and needed for society. Their wisdom and knowledge help to juniors’ success, and there are life lessons we can learn from the elderly. This article discusses how using technology and apps can help reduce loneliness in the elderly.
Enjoyable Activities for Seniors
Seniors need to be active and share activities with other people. Especially they need to have people around them to support them and engage them. Taking care of each other makes people alive and healthy and maintains the relationship to maintain emotional health and cognitive function. They will involve in many activities, and they can help their health and others.
Libraries and communities providing events such as dancing, book club, painting, golf, workshops help seniors have fun and learn new things. There are specific organizations and charities, and local communities that seniors can voluntarily work there with other seniors. They can invite their family and friends for special events and encourage other seniors to join.
Social activities have several benefits for elders, such as reducing cardiovascular, cancer, arthrosis, Alzheimer’s, and depression. Various ways can help seniors to be active. They can be a part of a community and do volunteering activities suitable for seniors or membership in several clubs. Seniors can engage in physical activities by going to the gym or learning a new language or skills. Language learning for seniors has many benefits. The important one is that they are less likely to suffer from mental diseases and common mental disorders.
Libraries and community centers usually held training courses for older people to learn computer skills. It is also an excellent place to interact with other people. Using personal computers and tablet help elders to be in touch with their grandchildren. A tablet computer is helpful if they have a disability because they can sit easily, and the screen is clear and bright.
Importance of Senior’s Community
There is so much research about how seniors’ community can maximize friendship, health, and happiness in older adults and make them as social as they used to be. It is difficult for elders to make friends because of aging, and through the stage of life, the number of relationships with people will reduce regarding retirement.
Research by studying seniors in different neighborhoods proved that those who live in places with more social capital have higher physical mobility than others. They have better health information. Social capital means trust, connection, and participation in their community. Walking together, sharing food, offering assistance to each other provides higher social interaction impacts seniors’ health.
Visiting elders helps them overcome stressful situations because when they have a family or friend to support them, they are likely to experience less illness. Social connection with family and friends is essential for seniors’ health. According to Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina, the risk of death is 50% more in people with low social connection than those who has a strong social bond.
Benefits of Socializing for Seniors
Another research by looking at seniors’ social activity in 12 years found that older adults who were more active in cognitive decline were 70 percent less. They have 43 percent less disability, and dementia is less in those people.
Indeed, staying in touch is vital for seniors. Phone calls, emails, social networks, and new smartphone applications connect those not comfortable working with computers. In the modern world, technology does not just belong to the young. Research showed that 42% of seniors have a smartphone; therefore, they can use apps. Apps creators know that seniors might be interested in such apps that others are not interested in. they design and make applications according to older adults’ interests and are user-friendly. They give them helpful tools to make life easier for them. Day by day, it is more necessary to have a smartphone for seniors.
The increasing number of ICT applications enhanced the quality of life of elders and their comfort. The development of home automation helps older adults to live independently. For example, there are tools for opening and closing curtains. Many seniors prefer to stay at home. That is fine because specific ways can help them from isolation, even at home. Cellphones provide numerous safety and entertainment benefits for seniors. Despite the SOS button, thousands of apps and programs can be easily installed on smartphones and help older adults daily.
After parking in the public parking lot, finding a car is challenging for many seniors with low cognition. So, some innovative apps help seniors find their vehicle among a hundred cars. For finding the vehicle, the app uses GPS and gives directions to the car.
Another innovative application is to make the mind sharp. Seniors playing different games can help themselves keep their health mentality like Lumosity, which allows them to recall and memorize information.
Several applications are useful for listening to music podcasts. Also, elders can access a wide range of songs without going to the music shop. Music lovers can explore a different genre of music too.
International calls are expensive for eliminating this matter; thus, various world communication apps are available. Older adults can have long-distance calls with their families and friends. They can have a video chat free of charge, and it does not matter where they are.
Elders need to have access to sufficient nutrition. Some apps offer health review by a physician that includes exercises for elders. Seniors can input their symptoms and health conditions, and they can be in touch with doctors to diagnose their health issues and get an appropriate diet from specialists. These kinds of apps are useful for marinating a healthy diet.
It can be tricky to recall the medications every day. Some apps let you know by reminding you to take your medication according to the timetable. These useful apps customize your drugs in different colors and organize your prescription. Also, seniors can be sure they will never forget to take their medicine or use the wrong medication on a bad day.
An older adult who has Alzheimer’s might go out and get lost in their neighborhood. They can use maps to find their house. Also, they can be tracked by sharing their location with their family or friends. If they get lost and can’t recall who they are, their family can find them.
Sometimes it is tough to read a print; therefore, an application can work as a magnifier and help seniors with less eye-sight read the text by zooming in and turning on the flashlight.
Racking blood pressure and weight is vital for people, especially seniors. Seniors can input data in apps on their mobile phones. It provides statistical information that reminds users to input their weight and BP information. Seniors can easily share information with health care agents or with their doctors.
There are applications free of charge on smartphones that track the fitness of individuals. And they can measure their steps, heart rates, and sleep patterns.
Social Media Apps
Sometimes, social media apps are not designed specifically for seniors; however, their content is irrelevant and not user-friendly. There is an app designed for older adults. It is like the classic version of Facebook, and it allows integration with Twitter. It can simplify life by transforming technology tools into accessible tools. Tapestry is a similar app that lets seniors connect and share messages, photos, videos with their families in an online environment.
Besides that, some platforms, such as Facebook, have a billion users, which help the seniors be connected to others and look for their interests and hobbies for seniors at home. They are easy to use for those who have difficulty using computers. Seniors can find communities that link them to other elders globally and communicate and share their interests and ideas.
Finally, we conclude that technology for seniors should be accessible to them since it increases socialization, family connections, health and wellness, engagement, sense of independence. New applications help seniors to expand their physical and cognitive therapy uniquely. Families need to encourage elders to use applications by installing and teaching them how to use them.
Grandchildren can enable their grandparents to use audiobooks, music apps that keep brain cells stimulated. They should encourage them to participate in various community activities and programs. Seniors need to be motivated to find new options to be engaged. It can make a difference in health, attitude, and quality of life. It’s important to remember that technology can be a helpful tool, but it’s not a substitute for in-person human connection. Make sure to prioritize spending time with friends and loved ones in person when possible.
One of the main problems related to this matter is that seniors become reluctant to socialize after a while. My grandparents are not even interested in talking anymore. And I don’t just mean with strangers. They rarely join in conversations with us, their family. I wish we could somehow persuade them into staying engaged in social activities.
I’ve always admired my mother because she never seemed to have a problem with blending in and socializing, even when she was 70 years old. I never thought socializing with other people could be hard until I turned 70. She made it look so easy, but now even meeting friends is difficult for me.
What are the social media apps designed specifically for older adults?
I didn’t have a smartphone before 2020. I can’t remember my life back then, mostly because I didn’t spend much time at home. Now, I can’t live without podcasts and youtube. Learning how to use the internet and downloading the apps was not easy, but my wife helped me a lot. I also get to see my granddaughter; we video call every night.
Nearly two years ago, I lost my father to suicide. Our home was surrounded by a lot of people at first. Everyday we used to have tons of visitors, but slowly everything came to an end.
Even my brother, who was home for the funeral went back. Me and my mother were left alone. My mother was in deep shock. All she could do was stare at walls for hours or cry. Her friends practically forced her to install Instagram, and now she seems pretty addicted to it. I think using technology distracted her from pain and being left alone.