The Benefits of Technology for Seniors in Retirement Homes
In recent years technology has played a significant role in retirement homes. Nowadays, smart technologies in retirement homes can enhance resident comfort, improve their mental and physical health, and provide other significant benefits. Moreover, they can be used to support the work of the nurses and caregivers.
Video Games – Physical and Mental Benefits
Video games are fun and provide a low-impact way to get seniors moving. Games like Wii Golf and Wii Bowling can help seniors with mobility issues enjoy favourite past times or explore new ones.
With their complex controls and fast pace, video games can provide a mental workout for retirement home residents. In 2017 study, 33 people, ages 55 to 75, were randomly assigned to play the classic video game Super Mario 64 for a half an hour a day over period of six months. After conclusion of the study, researchers discovered that the brain MRIs of gamers had an increase of gray matter (it shrinks with aging). The increased gray matter was in the hippocampus and in the cerebellum, which affects motor control and balance.
Another benefit of playing video games is better emotional well-being. Many retirement home residents reported greater well-being, social functioning, and overall health than non-gamers. Seniors can play simple yet fun video or mobile games, such as Super Mario Run, Candy Crush or Guitar Hero to alleviate boredom and loneliness while on lockdown.
Video Calls & Social media – Keeping Seniors in Touch with Loved Ones
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, retirement home residents have restricted access to visitors or not be allowed visitors at all. Families are having a hard time keeping in touch and seniors are feeling isolated, unhappy and abandoned.
Video chat apps (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) opened new opportunities for seniors to remain active and engaged with their loved ones. The screen reveals residents’ facial expression and gives families a better understanding of how they are really feeling. It helps detect possible changes in their appearance or mental condition that might be an indicator of something serious.
The benefits of social media technologies include reducing loneliness and social isolation, increasing resident engagement and satisfaction, improving health and quality of life, and reducing depression.
While in-person communication and interactions continue to be critical, technology has allowed for removal of geographic borders and time constraints that often limit our connectivity and interactions. From video chat to photo sharing, app market places (App Store, Google Play etc) are filled with new and old ways to stay connected.
Smart Home Devices – Increased Safety and Independence
Smart home technology goes beyond convenience. Hands-free and app-controlled devices can make living at retirement home safer and easier for seniors who have a hard time getting around or remembering schedules. These smart devices can benefit not only by the senior residents but also by the people who care for and about them:
- Smart thermostats and sensors. These devices keep the room comfortable, while also controlling utility costs. Sensors improve safety by detecting windows left open or high humidity, factors that may increase the risk of seniors slip and fall on a damp floor.
- Bed sensors:Sensors embedded in residents’ mattresses or added to their bedding can track respiration rate, heart rate, sleep duration, motion during sleep, and the number of times a resident gets in and out of bed during the night.
- Motion-activated lights: Installing lighting triggered by motion increases the safety and comfort of a resident, who no longer needs to fiddle with small lamp switches or walk into a darkened room. This lowers the risk for potential falls as well.
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