Volunteerism and Technology: Two Ingredients for Healthy Aging in Place

April 23, 2014

 

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak about one of my favorite topics to one of my favorite types of groups. The Menlo Park Presbyterian Church offers a Friendship Visitation Ministry to visit local seniors on a weekly basis. A leader of this group asked me to talk to the group on Technology for Aging in Place, after one of her colleagues had heard me make a similar presentation.

 

I was delighted to speak to this group of over 30 volunteers, who meet with shut-ins and provide not only church outreach but much-needed social contact. Volunteer groups like the Friendship Visitation ministry are critical in helping many older adults age in place, as they can monitor seniors’ physical or mental status and reduce potential social isolation.

 

My interaction with this group reminded me of how human relationships trump technology every time. Even so, it is wonderful that innovations in technology are making it more feasible than ever for older adults to continue to live in their own homes even when affected by physical or cognitive difficulties.

I have shared before much of the information that was discussed in my presentation. In this presentation, I focused on both the growing need for technology solutions and the different ways that technology is being harnessed for innovations in the following areas:

  • Medical and health care

  • Health and wellness

  • Monitoring, security, and home automation

  • Social and communication

Using the right technological innovations provides both lower costs; e.g., medical and labor, and a higher quality of life for older adults.

 

As always, I shared several examples of recent technology innovations, such as two clever phone apps.  The Lose It app helps users track daily food consumption and physical activity, and the Lively! app provides a discreet way for sharing limited information with family members. I also provided information on VideoCare, a video communication system that facilitates everything from two-way visual communications to medication prompts. (You can read more about Lively! and VideoCare here and here.)

 

At least 90% of individuals want to age at home. With abundant technology innovations and remarkable groups of volunteers like those at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, more and more seniors will have this dream realized.

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