Modern Technology Improving The Lives of Seniors by Vanessa Piria

Today, 91 percent of adults and 77 percent of older adults report the use of a cell phone (Yuan, Hussain, Hales & Cotten, 2016). Whether it is an IPhone or an Android, almost everyone seems to have one. Technology has changed the way we see time, transportation and entertainment. It has greatly influenced our interactions with others and it has improved the way we navigate our daily lives. Through these devices, one is able to access applications (apps) that can make life easier, interactive, enjoyable and manageable. For example, the Lyft application connects individuals to their own driver and it satisfies our transportation needs. Whereas, Google Home is a small hand-free device that acts a personal assistant, it can help manage daily schedules, alarms, music and home tasks. The Google Home device and the Lyft app have changed the way use our technology today.

The Lyft application connects an individual with easy, fast and reliable transportation. People no longer have to get behind the wheel if they do not want to. Research on older adults shows, they may be a bit more apprehensive to investing time into learning about cell phones and computers (Yuan, et al., 2016). They do not see the possibilities and benefits that certain technology can provide. An individual accesses the Lyft app through their Android or IPhone, and they type in their point of destination. After, they are given the option to view their fare amount, add passengers or upgrade the vehicle that arrives to pick up. They confirm the ride and a notification with the estimated arrival time, the drivers name and car model appear on the screen. An individual can also see a map in real time, where they can see where their driver is in relation to where they are.

Schulz, Wahl and Matthews (2015) state due to recent trends, technology can be instrumental in improving the quality of life and increasing autonomy amongst people with impaired functioning due to illness, aging or other factors. The article describes the current technology and aging patterns in order to illustrate positive actions to improve these structures. The study also examines technology and how it can help “maintain” and “enhance” the “physical, cognitive, social and emotional” declines as people age. Vision, hearing and other age-related changes tend to decline over time, so this can make instrumental activities of daily living difficult (Yuan, et al., 2016). Activities such as driving, shopping and managing certain tasks can be difficult to navigate.

Yuan et al. mention, technology use is becoming increasingly common and there are changes in the way we interact and our preferences have expanded. The article recognizes these trends and draws awareness to the gap in the literature for communication and preferences in older populations. The article attempts to merge this gap by investigating older adults and their desires in relation to technology. The study found, older adults still prefer face-to-face communication as a means of interacting because it helps them identify emotions, expressions, and overall, it was more engaging for older adults (Yuan, et al., 2016). Knowing this information, how can we encourage researchers to develop new ways to incorporate technology that aids individuals in identifying emotions and promotes in-person interactions for older populations?

The Lyft app eases transportation for people and Google Home links older adults with their technology to better operate daily tasks. It has a variety of features such as music, finance management, controlling television channels, alarms, and planning out daily activities. It can be used to track important appointments, bills that are due, and overall increase time management amongst older adults. Google Home can also assist individuals with their communication with others. By simply calling out to the device, an individual can ask the device to message, post or email the person they want to get in to contact with.

In many instances, as we age, our eyes experience age-related changes that can increase an individual’s likelihood for developing glaucoma, presbyopia or cataracts. This can make it difficult to navigate and access certain technology and phone applications due to the small lettering, low volume and low screen brightness. From what we know about the changes in our eyes, implications such as the Google Home can make socialization easier to navigate and more accessible since it is hands free and voice operated.

Each new product created can enhance the lives of our aging population in ways society is not aware of, but there are some limitations. The products are primarily targeted toward working populations, families or students. Rarely, do I see technology targeted for older adults, based off of the technology advertisements that I have seen. Product developers need to increase the promotion and development of technology for aging populations. Also, easy navigation and accessibility is preferred for older adults. The Google Home is effective because it ascribes to different languages and adapts to the tone of your voice overtime. The Lyft app works in most cities in the United States and the application is monitored on a cell phone. One links their credit card or gift card and after each ride, the money is taken out. This can impose a limitation for using Lyft because not all people have credit cards.

Another limitation of using Lyft can be that it may be confusing to navigate and confirming a ride can also cause difficulty. It takes a few rides to get the gist of the app, so for older populations assistance may be needed. As well as using Google Home, it may take some time becoming comfortable talking to the device and asking it to do certain tasks. It may also, have trouble hearing your voice or understanding what you want done. This can create feelings of frustration and potential negative attitudes toward the device. Lastly, another potential disadvantage can be that older adults may not feel comfortable or safe riding in a vehicle with a complete stranger when using Lyft. They may see it as restricting and stripping them of their independence. In order to ease this conception, I would recommend someone accompanying the older populations for their first few rides to aid them and create a positive experience they can rely on.

Today, there is an app that satisfies all types of needs for different groups of people. For example, there are apps to monitor health, communication, transportation, education and entertainment. By increasing the awareness and promotion of certain applications, there can be positive implications for certain populations, especially, for 77 percent of older adult users who can greatly benefit from technology and its advances. By further investigating health, technology preferences and advertising methods, one can attract an audience of individuals who have positive associations with technology and overall feel satisfied and comfortable with their devices.

References

Schulz, R., Wahl, H., & Matthews, J. T. (2015). Advancing the Aging and Technology Agenda in Gerontology. Gerontologist55(5), 724-734. doi:10.1093/geront/gnu071

Yuan, S., Hussain, S. A., Hales, K. D., & Cotten, S. R. (2016). What do they like?Communication preferences and patterns of older adults in the United States: The role of technology. Educational Gerontology42(3), 163-174. doi:10.1080/03601277.2015.1083392

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