Seniors have been among the most affected by the COVID-19.
It’s not only because they are at greater risk of severe infection and death. They have been deprived for more than a year of doing the things they should be enjoying in their few remaining years of life.
Not everyone succumbed to the gloom of the pandemic, though, as many discovered or rediscovered the wonders of technology.
Getting bored has not been an option for seniors who could not enjoy the outdoors. Languishing in isolation did not become the severe emotional and psychological issue that would have plagued those who could not interact with their loved ones.
Thanks to new consumer technologies, seniors have found ways to keep themselves busy during the pandemic. They found options to avoid getting stuck with nothing to do during lockdowns while keeping themselves safe.
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Technology adoption among seniors during the pandemic
A study published in Innov Aging explored technology adoption among the elderly at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
It found that seniors who are not tech-savvy have an 8.3 times higher likelihood to report a lack of companionship compared to those who are tech-savvy.
The study highlighted the crucial role of technology among seniors during lockdowns or the forced reclusion of older people.
“These results underscore the importance of technology adoption among seniors during times of social isolation and the positive impact this can have on companionship and mental health,” the study’s brief pointed out.
Modern tech products have clearly proven their importance during the pandemic. Without them, life would have been way more unbearable for the elderly.
Some of the best technologies used by seniors to cope with the challenges of the pandemic are described below.
Keeping connected using interactive solutions
Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom have been among the most widely used messaging and video call solutions during the pandemic.
They have allowed older people to stay in touch with their families even when gatherings were prohibited, mitigating the extended deprivation of human contact and interaction.
Video chat services have eased social isolation among older adults during the pandemic.
They have played a crucial role in keeping everyone connected and updated with each other. They have helped lower the risks of depression considerably.
Additionally, video call services are viewed as important tools in establishing a stronger sense of connection.
“A lifesaver.” This is how some are describing video calling tools like Skype and Zoom. Others refer to them as a “silver lining.” Even as the pandemic dramatically changed everyone’s lives, it is still optimism-inducing to know that technology already has solutions for the problem of losing personal connections.
On the other hand, there are also solutions that go beyond video calling to ensure proper care is provided.
The interactive platform Happy Seniors, for example, provides an easy way for staff of the elderly care home to manage the needs of the residents.
Staff can track in the platform the average mood rating of the seniors, and report back to family so they are always in the loop about how their loved ones are feeling.
Happy Seniors aims to create a “golden triangle” for senior care, which is distinctive as it connects the elderly, their children, and residency staff to make sure that seniors never feel neglected. It ensures communication between the three groups and allows for seniors’ different needs to be met when necessary.
In addition to this, the platform is working towards enhancing communication by creating an option for family members to directly message staff on the platform.
Even more exciting is their work to add a section to the platform where family members can easily order balloons, cake and gifts for delivery to their loved ones.
Nothing comforts someone in their twilight years more than the thought that their loved ones still care about them and are doing something to make sure they remain present in their lives. For this, technology has been no less than extremely helpful.
Having fun with video games and online gaming
Seniors and video games are an unlikely pair, but one sixty-year-old has an interesting story to share.
Senior writer and coach Nancy Monson recently discovered the fun of playing video games because of the pandemic.
In an article on NextAvenue.org, Monson shared how she was introduced to video games because of her thirty-year-old nephew.
She used to bond with him by going to the movies or having dinner. Alas, the pandemic made these activities impossible, so she was left with no option but to try to understand why her nephew was so into these games.
And she was surprised with how she reacted to video gaming. With the help of her nephew, Monson did not find it difficult to get used to the game controller.
She went on to share her experience and offered some information about video gaming and seniors during the pandemic.
Monson highlighted an AARP study about how video gaming is becoming popular among gamers over the age of 50.
The study says that there has been a 10.4 million increase, bringing the total to 50.6 million in 2019 from 40.2 million in 2016. This significant increase is partly attributed to the pandemic, as people suffered boredom and the desire to find avenues for recreation or simply passing time.
Monson also noted that even seniors who are already suffering from some form of physical handicaps can still enjoy video games.
There are adaptive devices available for those who cannot properly use the game controllers.
Virtual courses and events
Technology is key for seniors during the pandemic. This is what a senior care facility in New Jersey has proven with its comprehensive range of virtual courses and real-time events for seniors under care services as well as those who are being cared for at home.
The facility offers online painting classes, cooking classes, as well as interactive events. It also has an online grocery club, through which neighbors can order food as a group to be delivered through Amazon and other online platforms.
Doing this helps cut shipping costs and helps ensure that orders arrive safely and given better handling because it is essentially a bulk order.
This sense of connection and community in the midst of the lockdowns and compulsory physical distancing during the pandemic is indubitably helpful to older adults who long for company and affection.
Because of the internet, mobile web-enabled devices, and web services that facilitate connections, seniors are not left isolated.
Many other institutions have similarly leveraged the internet and consumer tech products to make sure that seniors are not left behind even. Governments, care facilities, nonprofits, and families are cognizant of the need to maintain the mental health of seniors while also protecting them from COVID-19.
There have been significant efforts to give seniors reasons to smile in one of the most trying times they have lived to witness. Technology has unmistakably shown its critical role in all of these.
Closing the generational gap
Swedish tech company Ericsson conducted a study on seniors and tech during COVID-19 and revealed that seniors have been embracing technology more.
At some point, seniors have shown significant progress in closing the generational digital gap or the difference in the use of digital products and services between younger and older people.
One of the silver linings the pandemic has shown the world is that technology has boundless applications and seniors are willing to make use of it.
They are not as tech-averse as many are wont to believe. They are not too old to learn new tricks especially to avoid giving in to the dismal manifestations of the pandemic and the economic downturn that came in its wake.