The 2018 Guide to Best Technology Resources and Tools for Seniors

In the first year that Hillary was caregiver and companion to Jeff, she never saw him use the computer that his son set up in the corner of the living room. Whenever she suggested that they log on to find some new African music that he loves or video-call his grandkids, he’d shake his head, saying that his back was bothering him or he didn’t know how the thing works and he could just use the CD player or the phone. During her training as a caregiver, Hillary had learned about the benefits of technological resources and activities for older adults’ cognitive resilience, capacity for continued independence, and flexibility with socialization and other meaningful resources. She really wanted Jeff to discover this as-of-yet missed opportunity.

Because Hillary knows that Jeff is most comfortable sitting with a pillow tucked behind his lower back and his feet planted on the floor, she took notice of the hard wooden chair in front of the computer desk, which was just a bit too high. She kept an eye out for used adjustable desk chairs on her neighborhood Facebook group, and she found a good option in just a few weeks. She talked Jeff into giving the chair a try with his favorite pillow behind his back and a couple of phone books stacked on the floor for him to rest his feet on. He looked surprised when he told her it was more comfortable than his usual chair. They’d cleared one obstacle.

Next, Hillary suggested that they spend a half hour together a couple times a week playing with the computer’s features. She helped him add website shortcuts right on his desktop for music playlists, his daughter’s Facebook page where she posts photos of the kids, a large-font interactive word search game, and the photo album that syncs up automatically with Hillary’s phone camera. Soon, Jeff started asking for more computer time together, and, eventually, he was logging on himself. Hillary knew it was really clicking with him when she was trying to remember the date and time of an event at the senior center and Jeff suggested they just check the website.

Like Jeff, many older adults haven’t had the occasion to learn about and use computers and other devices in their everyday lives. As a result, these technologies can feel unfamiliar and intimidating. But we all can learn new tricks. In fact, it’s possible to exercise the mind and offset cognitive decline by engaging in unfamiliar tasks and using new technologies. On top of that, innovative technology resources and tools for seniors are emerging all the time that can help them continue living in their homes safely, comfortably, and independently.

The Barriers to Technology Accessibility and Acceptance Among Seniors

Many obstacles can block older adults’ access to technology: from logistical issues to personal apprehension. They may experience visual or auditory limitations that need to be overcome for technology use—and that may frustrate and discourage them from embracing technology if not remedied. To help with this, adjustable screen size and font is becoming standard on many devices, and headphones have been developed for individuals who are hard of hearing. Other settings and enhancements are also rolling out that will cater to the growing need for technology among aging adults. The high cost of new devices also prevent accessibility, but insurance companies often cover certain adaptive devices, and it’s often possible to find cost-effective used devices that are in great working shape.

For Jeff, the greatest obstacle was not getting comfortable in his seat in front of the computer screen but getting acclimated to the interface and opening his mind to all of the tools this device could offer him and his lifestyle. A lack of assistance, education, and technical support often leaves older adults directionless and frustrated. Fortunately, time spent with family members or caregivers who can guide loved ones through the process can go a long way to getting familiar with new technologies and having fun together in the process. Technology classes for seniors are also becoming more and more common in our communities thanks to increasing recognition of the benefits of digital access; it opens up so many resources for seniors’ health and well-being, mental fitness, regular daily tasks, and their ability to stay connected and engaged with interests and loved ones. Although technological devices may start out as foreign and unfamiliar, when older adults can access and accept their value, they often come to feel empowered and more like themselves because these resources open doors to greater independence and sense of purpose.

The Ultimate List of Technology Resources for Seniors

Technology resources for seniors can be extraordinarily beneficial, but they are also overwhelmingly abundant. This list can help you get started on the search to find the right tools to support you or a loved one toward a secure, full life.

Unlocking the Future of Aging

For every one of us, aging is inevitable and our personal challenges will evolve over time. As the senior demographic grows ever larger, industries are introducing groundbreaking technological solutions to the challenges of health and home care that pave the way for better quality of life in our later years.

Home Robots Can Enable Our Quixotic Vision for the Future of Aging
Robots offer unique solutions to the challenges of aging in place: from assistance with daily tasks to enabling long-distance communication with friends and relatives.

Assistive Technology Devices Create a Comfortable, Easy-to-Use Computer Interface for Seniors
Digital tools make technology use more accessible for older adults with limitations and are often just a setting away on your device, and ergonomic furniture solutions offer customized comfort, so technology can become an essential resource in your regular lifestyle.

Innovative Technology for Seniors: How the Evolving Digital Era Is Influencing the Way We Age
Find out how Institute on Aging is leading the way with innovative home care technology solutions and how other systems could enhance your quality of life at home.

“As caregivers, we can set an example of considerate, compassionate, honorable, and responsible social media etiquette. Just as we act as advocates for our aging loved ones in the medical landscape and elsewhere, we can advocate for loving and respectful actions in online communities where it often seems that anything goes.”

Read more about compassionate social media communication and the opportunities for connecting and sharing grief experiences from a distance.

Caregiving at Home

Caregivers are always looking for creative new ways to improve the lives of their loved ones, and emerging technology answers the call. With everything from remote monitoring to help aging adults live independently to programs that help match caregivers with older adults, tech startups are revolutionizing home-based care.

Online Resources Can Help Caregivers with End of Life Paperwork
Paperwork is often an overwhelming task, but online databases can help you keep all important paperwork, medical history, and directives organized and accessible.

IoT Sensors and Data Collection Becoming “Eyes and Ears” for Home Caregivers
Adults who are aging in place may not need daily care and assistance, but IoT sensors can monitor vital signs and environmental conditions to ensure that they are healthy and safe living independently.

How Can Innovative Technology Help Long-Distance Caregivers Care for Aging Parents?
Long-distance caregiving can be challenging, both logistically and emotionally. But technology resources give us efficient ways to keep up with care management and to stay in touch as often as possible.

Help at Home: How Technology Aids Senior Personal Care
Apps and other convenient programs can assist older adults with regular personal care and organization, empowering them to cultivate their own well-being.

Tools for Healthy Living

A healthy lifestyle should not be an overwhelming challenge, even for aging adults. With the help of loved ones, caregivers, community support, and technology resources, seniors can truly thrive.

Medication Management Technology Can Assuage a Senior’s Prescription Worries
Keeping medications and pill schedules organized is critical for good health and well-being. Programs that help you keep things straight take some of the stress out of medication management and reduce the risks of losing track.

Rethinking In-Home Healthcare Technology Distribution: Connecting Companies & Caregivers
How do you find out about the revolutionary technologies that could greatly improve your quality of life? Caregivers play an important role in exploring tech resource opportunities and getting their loved ones connected.

Health-Monitoring Technology for Seniors is Simplified and Accessible in the Cloud
Technology expands our ability to interact with our health and healthcare in more informed and proactive ways. Apps for aging adults and caregivers make health tracking and care management convenient.

“Studies show that video games can keep our minds sharp and our reflexes nimble as we age, so the growing popularity of video games among older adults could actually be great news for the health of older generations.”

Read more about how video games offer seniors a fun mental workout.

Bay Area Technology Resources

For many, the San Francisco Bay Area has become an ideal retirement location thanks to a wealth of technological advancements and opportunities. The Bay Area helps lead the country in digital literacy for aging adults, and the area’s abundance of science and imagination provides constantly expanding resources to help seniors stay on top of technology.

Computer Classes for Seniors in the San Francisco Bay Area: How to Enhance Your Tech Skills
Digital literacy opens doors to so many resources and freedoms in later life. Find out where you can take a computer class in the Bay Area, helping you challenge your mind and expand your support network.

On-Demand Services in the Tech-Savvy Bay Area Facilitate Aging in Place
Websites and mobile apps put opportunities for local transportation, shopping, chores, and home maintenance right at your fingertips.

Grocery Delivery for Seniors in San Francisco Offers Innovative Options for Healthy Meals in the Bay
When access to fresh, healthy food becomes a challenge, there are easy, reliable grocery delivery options that you can connect to online. Build your grocery list and schedule your Bay Area delivery.

Resources for Socialization and Support

Isolation among seniors living at home is a real concern as it can lead to depression and declining health and personal care. Caregivers and family members can encourage social activity in a variety of ways, especially by using technology to help them revitalize old connections and discover new ones.

Virtual Senior Centers Provide Valuable Opportunities to Socialize
The Internet makes socialization possible without even leaving home. While it may not replace in-person companionship and support, a virtual senior center is a multi-purpose resource where older adults can find friendship, learning, assistance, and encouragement toward an active lifestyle.

How to Make New Friends When You’re Older: San Francisco Group Meetups Help Aging Adults Connect
To bridge the gaps in larger communities, online social networks allow people with similar interests connect, meet up, and share their passions in friendly company. Seniors in San Francisco and other cities around the country can register for a free account to discover local meetup groups or even start their own.

Finding Compassion and Understanding in Online Support Groups for Caregivers of Older Adults
In order for caregivers to be fully present and supportive of their aging loved ones, they need to take care of themselves and avoid caregiver fatigue and burnout. Online support groups are a great way to connect with others experiencing similar challenges and gain helpful tools—and to be assured that they’re not alone.

Mobile Apps and Tools

The functionality and possibilities of our smartphones expand all the time and these convenient tools can offer aging adults ample resources for happy, healthy, independent living. Caregivers and family members can help seniors access mobile devices, discover useful apps, and help them learn how to use these programs and adapt them to their needs.

New Apps Help Caregivers Protect Seniors from Financial Abuse Online
While the Internet offers abundant and diverse resources for seniors, it also comes with risks, especially as seniors may be vulnerable to financial scams and abuses online. Along with education for older adults and their caregivers, mobile apps can help to keep track of sensitive information and avoid risky oversights.

Simplify Managing Your Loved One’s Diabetes with Help from Fitness and Nutrition Apps
Diabetes can be challenging to manage, whatever your age. Almost like virtual assistants, the latest apps have easy-to-use interfaces and adaptable features to help aging adults keep track of their glucose levels, food intake, and general well-being.

Telehealth Technology for Seniors: Appointments Can Now Be as Simple as Downloading an App
Some health concerns require in-person attention, but other conditions may benefit from a conversation with your doctor from the comfort of your own home. Telehealth apps allow for virtual appointments, so seniors can feel secure and cared for while living at home and stay connected to healthcare providers when their mobility is limited.

Technology Integration for Graceful Aging

Adopting new technology into regular life can be a big transition for older generations. We can support that transition by telling stories about how technology helps us every day, offering installation and setup assistance, guiding individuals as they get used to a new device, and helping them to integrate their devices in ways that complement—rather than overhaul—life as they choose to live it. Hillary helped Jeff fully digitize his music collection, so he can continue listening to the songs he has loved for decades but with greater selection and much less clutter. She has also begun the process of converting all of his photos to digital formats so those memories can be easily passed on to his children, grandchildren, and beyond.

When caregivers, family, and friends help to make the transition to technology use smooth, aging adults can feel empowered and open-minded about the boundless resources that await them. Technology can simplify daily routines, expand social opportunities, protect health and wellbeing, and help aging adults feel more empowered and independent as they connect with the digital age and its incredible advantages.

Are you curious to learn about more resources, programs, and services that support and empower older adults? Institute on Aging offers enlightened care management, a social day program, all-inclusive health care, community living services, and other great opportunities for the San Francisco Bay Area. Get in touch today to see how IOA can connect you to your best life.

Icon Source: Creator Shannon E Thomas. Modified under CC By 4.0.