If your dad keeps saying he wants to age in place but doesn’t seem willing to invest in the technology, he’s not alone. Although 96 percent of seniors say it’s important to be as independent as possible as they get older, only 21 percent plan to incorporate technology solutions or to remodel and retrofit their homes in order to stay in place as they age, according to researchers at Georgetown University.
But high-tech gadgets and assistive technologies are helping seniors age in place independently while giving family members peace of mind in the process, and home-based aging-in-place technology is often far less expensive than moving into assisted living.
If you want to incorporate technology into your parent’s home, here are some tips for introducing seniors to aging-in-place technology.
Help Them Become Comfortable Online
Many seniors are intimidated by technology. Although 58 percent of those over 65 use the internet, up from 15 percent in 2000, the proportion of young adults who use the internet has always outpaced overall adoption levels among older groups, according to Pew Research Center.
If your parents are resisting newer mobile gadgets such as smartphones, consider talking to them about signing up for a free technology training course at their local senior center or retirement community. Or the next time you bring your kids over to their grandparents for a visit, have your daughter show Grandpa how her cell phone helps her stay connected to friends.
When seniors learn how to use computers, it empowers them to live successful, independent, connected lives.
Encourage Questions About Technology
If your mom is worried that installing a webcam will be an invasion of her privacy, ask what is important to them and what they are concerned about. Shared decision-making is a critical component of any caregiving relationship, so give her a choice about whether she’d like to use a webcam or a video intercom service. Inviting them to participate in the process is an effective approach for making difficult decisions.
Start With Something Small
Don’t buy your parents something they won’t use. Instead, start with something like a medication and appointment reminder or an auto stove shutoff device. Researchers show that seniors are more likely to invest in aging-in-place technology for things that they use regularly and are most comfortable with.
For example, seniors already use technology to refill prescriptions and connect with doctors, so a maybe a health management system that has the ability to graph and export information to clinics and doctors, as well as track data, schedule appointments and reminders for appointments, seems manageable.
If your parents are still resistant, don’t give up. Just like “The Talk,” it’s simply the first in a series of conversations over time. Just plan to bring up the benefits of aging-in-place technology again at another time.