Easily Accessible Technology at Your Fingertips

Introduction:

The aging population has grown to be the largest that America has seen. Despite their growing population, seniors in the United States are dramatically disadvantaged in today’s technology filled society. In order to support the aging population, I propose that using newer technology can actually improve the health and well being of seniors. Two beneficial pieces of technology that will be analyzed are: Groupon and OfferUp. Both of these technology advancements can be used through websites as well as downloaded as a free app on a smart phone/device.                                                   Groupon is a marketplace in which one can buy products, activities, or offers at a discounted price, with option to choose the location in which to search in. One can find anything from paintballing activities, to restaurant specials, fitness activities, massage deals, clothing products, and much more. Groupon can be extremely useful for the younger generation, especially college students, because they have access to inexpensive activities and specials that without Groupon, they would not be able to afford. One can create a free account or use the app/website as a guest. A lot of these specials are time sensitive which is beneficial because there are different specials and coupons being advertised weekly.                                                                                                                                        OfferUp is a product in which one can buy and sell new or used products, and also has the ability to search in the location that one wants to buy and sell in. These products can range from couches, chairs, tables, and furniture, to electronic devices, cleaning utilities, cars, and even smaller items such as food products, books, or office supplies. This type of technology is very useful to younger adults, such as new parents or new homeowners because they have easy access to practical and inexpensive items that are necessary. Through either the online website or on the app, one can also create a free account or continue as a guest user. Once one has chosen an item they want to sell, a picture can be uploaded of the item so that other users can see and make an offer. If one is looking to buy items, they can choose their location and type in the search box for an item, then scroll through the results and create an offer. From there, one can connect with the person selling the item and make a deal.                                                                           Advancements in technology may have extreme implications for seniors and could be of interest to them for many reasons. Older adults don’t often have the accessibility to certain products or activities that they need in order to obtain healthy aging. Too often older adults struggle to meet their needs due to an inaccessibility to drive, lack of money, inability to buy expensive activities, etc. Once one has chosen a product or activity, the purchase will be directly sent to their house or email. With these apps, older adults also have the opportunity to make money. Additionally, the apps can help solve health issues for older adults because they are able to purchase discounted gym memberships, blood pressure scales, and even pill sorting cases that one can use to organize pills and make it easier remember.                                                                                                      It is an unfortunate reality that motor skills decline with age, which makes it more complicated for seniors to function normally on a daily basis as they once did when they were younger. The hippocampus is an important feature of the brain; it is the region in the brain that controls memory (Burzynska, 2017.) As we age the hippocampus shrinks, causing our memory functioning to decline with age. A property of the OfferUp and Groupon apps are that older adults can search for items that can help them remember both implicit and explicit activities. For example, they can buy items that will help to remember to go to a doctor’s appointment or where they left their keys. Furthermore, as we age our brain loses its ability to create synapses and therefore cannot generate important chemical reactions, which causes mood changes and slower functioning as well a hard time processing new information. As we age, the more we use or exercise our brains the better our brain will function in older adulthood (Flack et al., 2017.) Older adults can practice using their brains by drawing, painting, playing board games, being creative, doing puzzles, etc. Groupon is a helpful app for this purpose because there are a variety of discounted activities that older adults are able to purchase and use at a time of convenience.                                                                                                                       There are many benefits from using the Groupon and OfferUp apps, however older adults may have some difficulty. One obstacle that may occur is the lack of access to technology; they did not grow up with technology and may not see a need for it. Therefore, they may not own a smart phone/device or a computer, which is necessary in order to use these apps. Another obstacle that may occur when accessing Groupon or OfferUp is the inability to understand or manipulate the device. In the case of extreme arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, it will be hard for older adults to handle the device and push the buttons (Burzynska, 2017.) The app could be improved by creating larger buttons that are easier to push. Lastly, a lot of older adults live independently and alone. There could be obstacles when trying to spread the word of these beneficial apps as well as a challenge to teach those who live alone or don’t have anyone to teach them. In order to prevent this, workshops should be created on how to use the app.

Research:

Physical activity has been linked as a way to eliminate some decline in executive brain functioning (Fanning et al., 2017.) Loss of brain functioning in older adults affects many aspects of life in older adulthood such as, memory, mood, processing, balance, motor movement, etc. Authors, Fanning et al. (2017), researched the affect of replacing 30 minutes of sedentary activity with 30 minutes of various levels of physical activity daily and its affect on executive brain functioning and self-regulation. The purpose of the study was to explore the consequence of substituting sedentary or resting time with a variety of activities such as sleep, light activity, and moderate to vigorous physical activity (Fanning et al., 2017.) There were 247 participants, 169 of which were female, with moderately low activity level and were between 60-79 years old. Participants wore an accelerometer on their hip for seven consecutive during times they were walking, self-reported average number of sleep from the last month, completed a self-regulation scale, assessed via computer memory tasks, and used the computer to perform task-switching (Fanning et al., 2017.) The independent variables in the study were the various substitution interventions and the dependent variables were the included participants. Results from this study indicate that light to moderate activity in older adults for 30 minutes each day supports working memory, task- switching, maintaining personal goals, avoiding distraction, increases ability to identify alternative strategies, etc. Furthermore, replacing sedentary time with various items suggests faster reaction times, more advanced self-regulatory strategies, and memory (Fanning et al., 2017.) Using the Groupon app, one can easily find programs or events that can help motivate and utilize exercise at a discounted price. Further, one can find programs or events that facilitate task-switching and memory exercises such as bingo, card playing, or computer programs. Additionally, using the OfferUp app, one can easily search for exercise equipment and buy from someone at a cheaper price than retail and have the ability to exercise right in their own home. One can also find board games and mind exercise games to purchase that may help with information processing.                                                         Increased physical activity, better balance, and altered walking speed can also have an impact executive functioning in older adults. In a 2017 study, Flack et al. (2017), examine the implications of physical activity on executive functioning in older adults. The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of physical activity/performance and executive functioning performance on older adults, whom have low educational attainment, a combination of chronic diseases, and located in a rural area. There were a total of 56 individuals in the study who were at least 60 years old. Methods for this study include a variety of performance and cognitive tests such as, verbal frequency, gait speed, chair stand test, physical performance, balance etc. The independent variable in the study was the physical and cognitive tests that were conducted and the dependent variable was the participants. Individuals that are located in a rural area with limited education are faced with an inability to pay for medical costs as well as further travel to access medical care, which leads to overall less time spent taking care of their health. Results of the study indicate that decreased physical abilities were associated with lower level executive functioning as well as non-normative functioning levels for individuals in rural areas. However, the researchers concluded that further research was necessary to make a direct correlation between physical and cognitive implications (Flack et al., 2017.) The Groupon app can be used to help individuals in this study to locate deals in the area in order to promote easier access to connections and opportunities in order to improve health and can also be used to become informative on the services and products that are offered in the area, which can be useful because older adults in rural areas spend less time with health care providers who would normally offer this type of information. The OfferUp app can be extremely helpful for seniors because they can browse the site and get connected with their community and the people around them and can also make money in order to pay for their increased medical expenses.                                                                                                                           Technology has an enormous impact on the way senior’s age and the impact aging has on their executive functioning. Using both the Groupon and OfferUp apps, seniors will be able to have more access and ease finding resources and successful aging activities in their community.

References:

Burzynska, A. (2014). Brain Anatomy and Brain Aging [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Colorado State University RamCT site for HDFS 312: https://ramct.colostate.edu

Falck, Ryan S. (2017). The association between physical performance and executive function in a sample of rural older adults from South Carolina, USA. Experimental Aging Research., 43(2), 192-205.

Fanning, J. (2017). Replacing sedentary time with sleep, light, or moderate-to-vigorous physical activity: Effects on self-regulation and executive functioning. Journal of Behavioral Medicine., 40(2), 332-342.

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