2020 Age-Technology Trends
Sheltering in place left many older adults in social isolation as they took extra precautions to avoid exposure to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
The government-issued stay-at-home orders prevented seniors from getting in-home visits from family and friends, going to senior or respite centers, shopping for groceries, and enjoying other daily activities.
But, the pandemic has motivated many older adults to use technology to get through the challenging times that COVID-19 brought to the world.
Older adults are using technology to take virtual tours to countries and museums around the world, read e-books, and join online support groups. Most importantly, seniors are keeping in touch with family and friends via video chats on their computers or smartphones.
When seniors had trouble navigating the computer, a family or friend would come over to help. Social distancing due to COVID-19, however, ruled out seniors getting in-home visits.
But, remote management software, such as TeamViewer, LogMeIn, and RemotePC, can give a trusted family member access to a loved one’s computer desktop. The remote access software can be installed on the older adult’s computer and another person’s computer to keep the two connected. The software companies also have tech support teams in place in case either user runs into problems.
Computers and smartphones have been keeping seniors connected in a time of social isolation due to COVID-19.
Machine or Human? Which Do Seniors Prefer?
There’s a widely held perception that older adults do not want to learn new things. A new study suggests that older adults want to learn new skills, but just not from a computer.
The study, conducted by a research team at the University of Edinburgh, involved testing the problem-solving skills of 24 people between the ages of 60 and 85. Participants received verbal instructions to arrange information and complete a task.
Researchers used the “Wizard of Oz” technique to create the illusion that the task was being set by a human or a machine. In actuality, the participants were being instructed by a person.
The study’s findings showed the older adults were faster and more accurate when they believed a human gave them instructions. Participants performed worse when they believed they were being instructed by a computer.
According to researchers, the study shows how older adults’ beliefs can affect how they learn with technology. The study may also be useful when developing user-friendly computer systems for seniors.
Using Technology for Medication Reminders
Some older adults have so many things to do on a daily basis that they may forget to take their medication. Using smartphone apps, interactive text messages, and other technologies as medication reminders would be a great help to some seniors.
A study found that seniors do not mind using technology for medication reminders. But, the technology must be familiar, accessible, and easy to use.
Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London, in London, England, and the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, United Kingdom, created a focus group of people over 65 years old who took cardiovascular medications.
Study participants who were familiar with smartphones did not mind using the device to monitor their medication intake. Some older adults preferred using smartwatches to monitor their medication intake. Some did not mind receiving text message reminders.
According to the study, participants expressed concerns over the potential for technology to fail, for a data security breach, becoming too dependent on the technology, and not having face-to-face communication with others.
Based on the study’s findings, Dr. Anna De Simoni, the study’s lead researcher, said healthcare professionals could consider using technology older adults are familiar with to make sure they adhere to their medication schedule.
FaceApp Lets the Young Look Older
Young people are circulating photos of themselves on social media, not as they look now, but what they may look like in 50 years.
The popular FaceApp uses artificial intelligence to digitally alter photos of people’s faces to show how they would look as older adults. Celebrities, like the Jonas Brothers, Kim Kardashian, and Drake, have used the app which adds wrinkles, sagging skin, and gray hair, and circulated the results on social media.
Myrna Blyth, AARP’s director of media relations, believes the trend is helping younger people celebrate getting older.
With the app going viral on social media, Blythe said she hopes this will encourage people to make better health and financial choices as they think about their future.