Being socially engaged is an important part of growing older and staying as healthy as possible. While older people may be trying to build or maintain connections with others, they also may, at the same time, be facing losses, such as the death of a spouse, of long-time friends or have adult children and grandchildren who live far away from them.
Aging can also mean a diminishment of some of the senses, such as hearing, that help keep a person connected with the world around them.
The National Institute of Health reports that staying connected can help older people stave off a variety of medical conditions including high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and cognitive decline.
The good news for the large majority of older Americans who want to continue to live independently in their own homes, is that there are devices and other resources that can help them stay connected with others.
Here are a few:
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms are a good way for seniors to stay connected with others. They can interact with family and friends, and keep up-to-date with their activities. A survey by the Pew Research Center in 2021 showed that smart phone, tablet and social media use has increased among older adults aged 74 to 91. Using their devices, seniors can also see the faces of their family members who may live in far off places through Facetime or other video chats.
Many communities have senior centers where older adults meet to socialize, attend planned events and trips, or share a meal. Some centers offer such services as free lunches and home-delivered meals or provide older people with daily phone calls to check in on them. The goal of these centers is to support seniors and to help them stay connected with others.
A voice-activated clock with a recording of a loved one’s voice is a soothing way for some seniors to hear a friendly voice and be reminded of some important information. These clocks can remind an older person that it’s time to take a medication, take a walk, have a bite to eat or simply wish them to have a good day.
Loneliness and social isolation are real health concerns for older adults. While it’s not seeking to replace human contact, a robotics company founded in 2016 is helping seniors overcome loneliness. The company is partnering with the state of New York to introduce artificial intelligence-driven robots into the homes of 800 older adults where they can help them stay in touch with family and friends, engage in healthy behaviors including reminders to take medications, and stay connected with the outside world. The robot, which is being beta-tested in these homes, can initiate conversations with seniors, check the weather and then ask them if they want to take a walk and provide stress-reduction exercises among other functions. The robots also are able to recall previous conversations so they don’t repeat unnecessary information.
Robotic cats and dogs equipped with sensors are another innovation geared to addressing loneliness. These cats and puppies look like stuffed animals that a senior can pet. The cat responds to touch, purrs and rolls over. The dog’s heart beat slows when a hand is placed on its back.
With so many technological advances occurring, it’s a good bet that many older Americans will continue to find the joy and comfort of living in their own homes.
ALC Home Health Care
For more than 16 years, ALC Home Health has been a leader in the field of home health care. Our team of professionals work respectfully, holistically and collaboratively with clients and their families, caregivers and multidisciplinary teams in order to provide quality health care within the comfort, privacy and familiarity of one’s home. ALC Home Health is part of Assistenza Healthcare Management which offers a full continuum of care including home, hospice, and primary care at home. For additional information visit www.alovingcompany.com or call 630-368-1102.