As COVID-19 forced people, especially senior adults, into isolation, new ways to meet the physical and emotional needs of seniors had to be employed. Several technologies are helping older adults cope with COVID-19 and the new normal.
Online Resources to the Rescue
Though the senior adult population still lags behind younger generations in the use of online services and resources, there is evidence that older people, particularly motivated by the last several months of extreme isolation, are learning how to use the Internet and social media. What are they discovering?
Availability of Health Services
Telemedicine enables health care providers to remotely deliver clinical health services and information to patients via interactive and video telecommunications through devices like smartphones, tablets, home computers, or laptops. The connection between patients and care providers is through a program, app, or website with video and audio capabilities. As non-emergency visits to physician offices and hospitals have been restricted, telemedicine has developed into an important option.
Home health takes on an even more important role in delivering health care to those seniors living in their own homes. It is a vital service for those who may have multiple chronic conditions that cannot be ignored. Home health professionals will use social media to contact senior patients.
Medications and Assistive Technology have become increasingly available online for home delivery. Seniors are discovering the capabilities of personal assistant devices. For example: The Echo can control lights or thermostats in the home, and it can remind seniors to take their medications or call a friend or relative for help.
Medication reminder systems like MedMinder not only dispense the correct medications at the right time with video and audio alerts but also notify family members if there is a missed dosage.
Finding Food and Meeting Other Supply Needs
Grocery stores offer online ordering and home deliveries via companies like Instacart.
If the older adult wants to spend less time and effort in meal preparation, there are many meal service delivery companies to choose from:
- Home Chef
- Blue Apron
But aging adults have options to purchase many other online supplies and items. They include:
- Craft supplies
- Gardening supplies
- Pet supplies
- Contact lenses
- Office supplies
- Kitchen appliances
- Fitness equipment
Shopping for the holidays became an in-home online convenience as opposed to standing side-by-side with people in a crowded mall. Online ordering companies like Amazon can deliver almost any item to a home.
Social Needs as Older Adults Cope with COVID-19
Seniors have always been susceptible to the physical and emotional effects of isolation, but COVID-19 has put a premium on finding ways that seniors can connect to others. Sharing with friends and family members with the Zoom conferencing app or Skype is one option.
The Facebook platform, with its huge numbers of followers and easy-to-use methods, allows seniors to connect with others and discover information.
Pinterest, the image sharing and social media services platform, provides opportunities for seniors, especially those who enjoy creative projects, to view each other’s images and explore common interests.
Seniors also find online book clubs, download movies, play online board games, take part in virtual events and exercise classes like SilverSneakers, as well as explore educational offerings.
The Future of Technology
As tragic as the COVID-19 pandemic is, it is opening up new possibilities for the advance of health care technologies for seniors.
New online technologies are developing like I-Care that “helps seniors with early stages of dementia to connect remotely with family and other caregivers, while prompting them to engage with daily tasks.”
And polls have shown that many seniors are willing to explore these options, as they are recognizing the importance of their health and the increasing number of resources they can use to maintain it.
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