Guest Post Author: Andrea Wurster | The Memory Muse
Trends show that older adults are becoming more and more ‘tech savvy’! In fact, plenty of older adults are using iPhones and iPads as they are perceived as simple and ‘clean.’ A large body of research now understands what the technology needs of older adults are, as well as how they should be best addressed. Universities and teaching hospitals are offering courses on iPads and smartphones; as the population continues to age, tech will be increasingly applied to aging processes and care! Not to fear for we are here!
I recently spoke with a lovely couple from my community. Paul, newly diagnosed with dementia, published a number of best-selling Canadian novels. His wife, Beverly—now transitioning into ‘caregiver’—fears that her husband may be bored as he is no longer able to read. Beverly still enjoys her morning paper and afternoon novel but feels guilt when Paul ‘just sits’ as she reads. This guilt is exacerbated as reading was an activity they enjoyed together.
As a social gerontologist, I immediately mentioned the effectiveness of music and the calming effect of photographs. As the lovely couple mentioned that they have tried (and tired) both options, my mind trailed off onto the topic of podcasts. Podcasts are like radio shows, pre-recorded for your listening pleasure. I commute for almost seven hours every week, and I myself am tired of music. Recently, I have been listening to podcasts (thank you, Electric Runway)! The time I spend listening is not only entertaining, but keeps me up-to-date with current technology, events, and politics.
The Podcasts App is featured on all iPads and iPhones. This app features podcasts for any and every topic—from history to fashion, and cooking to dogs. The purple icon opens a whole world of information that only requires your ears! Podcasts last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour… And beyond! I, therefore, explained that there has to be a history podcast applicable to his interests. You can search a keyword and download to listen.
To support listening, I recommend large headphones that comfortably fit over the ear like the white ones featured on this post (Walmart, $11.15). iPhones and iPads come with complimentary ‘ear pods.’ These ear pods, however, are unusable (and uncomfortable) with hearing aids.
We cannot fear technology, nor aging and dementia. We must continue to be resilient, adapt, and learn how to best deal with our realities. It is evident that caregivers require more support, resources, and assistance. Together we can revolutionize the way we age, and the way in which we perceive aging.
Andrea is a second year Masters of Science Student (in eHealth) at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Throughout her undergrad, Andrea worked in Therapeutic Recreation in long-term care. Andrea’s research focus surrounds technology needs for informal/formal caregivers, as well as technology needs in long-term care. Andrea’s mission is to normalize aging through fashion, technology, and awareness.