Technology poised to make seniors lives easier

The promise of new technologies enhancing the lives of senior citizens is something that always seemed to be sitting just over the horizon. “Just you wait – tomorrow will be better!”

I read a recent NASDAQ article that pointed out some specific technologies that are around today are very close to fulfilling the dream of making life better for seniors and their families.

One particular technology developed for gaming is currently being repurposed for  seniors to help them avoid social isolation. Can you guess what it is? If you said Virtual Reality headsets then you’d be right on.

What’s surprising is that research shows VR technology is much more than an entertaining diversion. A study by University of Washington researchers revealed that VR use actually reduced physical pain because of the neurological or physiological effect it has on the brain.

What’s interesting is how the viewing choices also play into the benefits. Doing a Grand Canyon tour or star gazing in Alaska likely gets their synapses firing in a ways they haven’t done in a long while. And what’s really amazing is that you can already buy headsets that work with your smartphone for about $20!

Another technology that is already changing the way seniors live their lives is Artificial Intelligence or A.I.  Unlike regular tasked technology (press button A and B happens), A.I. allows for the devices to learn from their user’s habits when using the device.

Interactive devices like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home respond to questions and requests to turn on or off appliances, lights and such.

These are not new. Coming, however, is a robot that can recognize your expression, sense your mood, tell a joke, take a picture or even suggest a walk if you’ve been sitting too long.

Many of these tech tools and toys can also be monitored by far flung families, concerned about their loved ones.

There’s more, of course, and the article is worth a read. I love a good gadget but these applications of existing and emerging technologies are far more than diversions. They allow people to age in place with more confidence than ever.