Can smartphone devices help older adults to age in place?
Technology is rising in all facets of a person's life in today's age. Although technology has been largely promoted toward the younger generation, it has many positive outcomes for the older generation! Research has shown that the use of new technologies by the ageing population significantly contributes to a better quality of life, improving parameters of daily living such as transportation facilitation, communication and participation in social life. Within this post, we will dive into smartphone devices and how they can assist in older adults' ability to age in place.
Over the past two decades, smartphones have become very popular in developed parts of the world. Smartphones have developed from call and text devices to data-driven devices that allow users to connect with the world through various virtual platforms. Smartphones offer different apps that will enable users to connect through conversation, photo sharing and video conferencing, such as Facebook or Instagram. The use of smartphones for social communication with family and friends has been shown to reduce loneliness in older adults who are ageing in place and unable to leave their homes regularly. Further, the use of smartphones in collaboration with social communication applications allows older adults to quickly connect with family and friends in case of emergencies at home.
Smartphones as a communication tool are vital for older adults to age in place, but they do not stop there. Smartphones also allow older adults to access and receive daily necessities from the comfort of their own homes through independent applications that provide delivery services. One example is the Walmart application, which can be downloaded through a smartphone for free. Users of this application can shop for groceries, over-the-counter medications and any other daily necessities available at Walmart through their smartphone and have it delivered to the comfort of their own home - any day of the week. Older adults who use smartphones to access services such as Walmart to attain their daily necessities can age in place without worrying about how to transport and carry their required items back home.
Smartphones also help older adults to age in place through medical apps, such as Medisafe, to help users remember to fill their prescriptions and take their medications at the correct time. Research shows that about 50% of medical professionals' prescriptions are not taken as directed by a doctor or pharmacist. This statistic is largely due to the fact that the individuals counted in this percentage are taking multiple different medications, at multiple different times throughout the day, which can be confusing and lead to wrongful dosing. With the application Medisafe, which is found on smartphones, older adults can manage their medications, get daily reminders and get alerts when prescriptions are running low. Smartphone applications such as Medisafe allow older adults to age in place without worrying about wrongful dosing or forgetting to take their medication.
Many different applications are available to smartphone users that extend beyond what was discussed here today. Older adults who are currently ageing in place with home care assistance such as Senior Support Services, or without, can use smartphones to enhance their independence and overall quality of life.
Brown, M. T., & Bussell, J. K. (2011). Medication adherence: WHO cares?. Mayo Clinic proceedings, 86(4), 304–314. https://doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0575