In a world full of new technologies, futuristic gadgets and stunning software it is easier than ever to leave aside people that don’t keep up with technology. Those people could be our parents and grandparents. It is much easier to keep track of your friends using applications like Facebook and WhatsApp, than knowing the same about your own mother. People we care about the most are the ones that don’t fit into our busy, technology-driven world. As a consequence, seniors are usually left alone and lost in a world they no longer recognize, world swarming with information and overloaded with products services to choose from.
By bringing technology closer to seniors, we bring seniors closer to their loved ones and the world that left them behind. We provide them tools to take better care of themselves and to stay in touch with their children, grandchildren and friends.
Technology can help seniors in everyday life, but it needs to be safe, secure and simple enough for them to use it. Average senior user is not used to swiping screen, touching icons to make action, hidden functionality, long-taps and fast animations which their eyes can no longer follow. They become overwhelmed confronted by too many options that they usually don’t need.
According to the US Pew Internet Research Centre, 77% of older people would need someone to help them walk through the process of setting up a new device or application. For most of them this is enough to prevent them being involved with new technologies. This could be prevented with careful user interface design, followed by simple and straightforward processes. It is important to recognize most effective processes that would provide real tangible benefits to seniors.
Seniors often have fear with new technology that they might break it, therefore the system that they could use must be intuitive, robust and very self-explanatory.
Regularly taking medications is unfortunately important part of senior’s everyday life. We can use simple solutions with great effect here. Simple calendar with repetitive events can support pretty much all their needs. Adding feedback to caring person in form of SMS or other kind of message, and we have effective system of supporting and supervising of taking pills on time. Additionally, system could be opened to medical services, and doctors can administer and follow patient activities in real time. There would also be a possibility to call a doctor or a nurse with one emergency click.
Special medical and health care advices and articles could be provided to user. All content would be filtered and controlled to ensure reliability of provided information.
It is well known that it is more important than ever to stay active once you reach a certain age. There are many gadgets these days that track activity and remind us that it’s time to move. Most of them require a connection to smartphone or a computer and have many functions that could be complicated to use. By integrating some of those devices into one system, it is possible to ensure simple and unified user interface. One device with a familiar interface can be used to show activity data and to remind user to be more active. System could also alert family members about users’ inactivity. Caring family members can then react to this information. Except for workout, user activity information can be useful for potential emergency purposes - if there has been no movement from user for a longer period of time caring person or even a doctor would be automatically notified.
Our minds, just like our bodies, need exercise. Special designed puzzles and mind quizzes would also be available to stimulate brain and enhance cognitive performance. Playing mind games with other members of social network would also decrease sense of loneliness. It would provide a way to play a chess game with your grandmother even if you are miles away.
With aging usually comes increased feeling of loneliness. Unfortunately, younger generations have less time to visit their elderly loved ones and technology seniors usually use for communication is obsolete. Landline phones in today's households only seem to exist in families for communication with their grandparents. And how much does Landline worth if we are never home? In recent times, we are very mobile, and technology we use is mobile too. By using newer technology for communication, seniors can fit into our world of mobile social networks. They can use technology to reach us on one thing we never ignore - push notification on your smartphone. They could build social network between users of the same interest and similar age. To provide high level of privacy virtual society would be limited to certain group of people and designed as an invitation-only system. Messaging system should be simplified and easy to use, user should not worry about which communication channel to use, and they should only need one. To minimize the distance between families that live far from each other, video conference would be possible.
There are many aspects in which technology can improve social and health aspects in life of seniors. It has been widely recognized that engaging in social activities of different kinds brings new quality in seniors’ lives. Combining this services with certain health and well-being care services makes seniors feel safe, secure and more connected to their family members.