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Contributed by Karen Weeks of Elder Wellness

For many seniors, aging in place is the difference between happiness and depression. Older adults who have to leave their homes and move into a senior living community frequently have trouble adjusting to life in a setting where they can no longer make their own decisions or have the discretion to come and go as they please. It can be an emotionally wrenching change in lifestyle and some seniors never adjust. Unless they’re physically or mentally unable to care for themselves, most seniors want to stay in their own homes.

Moving can do more harm than good and leave an elderly person who’s used to being independent and self-reliant feeling depressed and abandoned. Other aspects of their health may suffer as well. Communications technology allows family members to monitor their older relative’s condition and state of mind remotely and from a distance, making it possible for more seniors than ever to age in place. It’s particularly valuable for those with limited mobility or seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Daily interaction

Isolation and loneliness, a crippling problem for many older individuals, can be overcome through any number of technological options. Today, seniors have access to easy-to-use touch-screen computers and can learn to communicate with friends and family members through an application like Skype or FaceTime. Those who are uncomfortable with computers can still communicate via email with a MailBug machine or tablet. A Jitterbug Plus or TracFone can be an easier, less expensive option for seniors who find it difficult to use a smartphone.

Health monitoring

Telehealth uses an array of telecommunications options that help loved ones keep a close watch on an elderly relative’s health and monitor their medications. A senior with a condition that needs to be closely managed can keep in touch with health care providers through Telehealth. Medication reminders can be sent and blood pressure, heart and pulse rates monitored. In many cases, Telehealth offers such a robust menu of services that visits to the doctor’s office are minimized, further reducing the need for direct assistance or intervention.

Fitness fun

One of the benefits seniors gain from assisted living is the opportunity to stay fit mentally and physically with others who have similar needs. Wii Fit Plus offers an array of virtual games that help elderly individuals work muscles and stay limber at home. Seniors who live alone sometimes need a means of exercising their mental faculties. Brain Fitness Program improves memory, communication, and hearing with special mental challenges that keep elderly individuals sharp and mentally aware.

Vision assistance

Visual acuity diminishes as people age. Seniors with marked vision loss have a number of assistive resources that can help them read, a serious matter for people who need to take multiple medications every day. Screen magnifiers help seniors with low-vision capabilities read computer screens. Those with extreme vision loss can benefit from screen reader devices, which use software programs and a speech synthesizer or Braille display.

Substance abuse

If your relative has suffered with a substance abuse problem, there may be emotional and physical distance between you. It can be difficult to mend fences after many years of distrust, but try to put yourself in the other’s shoes. Try to understand their struggles and the nature of their problem. Technology can allow you to open the lines of communication if you’re not ready to reconnect in person.

Technology has improved our lives in countless ways. For older adults and their families, technology can make it possible to maintain close contact even if you’re separated by many miles. It’s a blessing for seniors who are determined to age in place and remain happy at home.


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