Enabling the Benefits of Information Technology.A variety of emerging Internet-based technologies have the potential to empower older adults to live more productive, independent, and satisfying lives. Most is the fact that this technology can help families promote, improve and maintain the quality of life for the people they love and care about.
A range of technologies and applications are available or emerging that can make it easier and more convenient for older adults to engage in meaningful and personally fulfilling activities. The impact of these technologies can be particularly powerful in support of paid work, continuing education, and volunteering, as these activities enable older adults to make important contributions to society and enhance their own well-being. example, the option of working from home can be particularly valuable to older adults who face growing demands to manage complex health, retirement, and care arrangements. In this regard, Internet-enabled videoconferencing and real-time document sharing can increase effectiveness and productivity when employees work from home or entrepreneurs operate a home-based business. Similar technologies can facilitate distance-learning opportunities and volunteer activities at convenient times and places, especially for individuals who have jobs, disabilities, or family responsibilities that make it difficult to travel to a classroom.
Internet-enabled technologies create opportunities to help older adults take advantage of preventive health services, participate in physical activity, and self-manage chronic diseases that can help prevent or postpone functional decline. For example, the use of increasingly sophisticated home-based “smart medical services” supports the long-term treatment of chronic diseases. Online multiplayer gaming and virtual reality systems such as Nintendo Wii or Sony PlayStation can help promote physical activity and exercise among older adults.
The challenges to independence and quality of life that often accompany aging can make staying connected difficult. The death of a spouse, accumulating losses of family members or friends, retirement, disabilities, or poor health may heighten the risk of chronic loneliness. Evidence suggests that feelings of social isolation, or loneliness, are prevalent among older adults and indicate major risks of decline in physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A number of emerging Internet-based products and services show significant potential to increase well-being and social inclusion for older adults. Applications that take advantage of the dynamic nature of video communication promote a sense of “closeness” that can be especially effective in fostering and encouraging social interactions. example, video calling with programs such as Skype may offer particular value for grandparents seeking to stay connected with their grandchildren and family members that do not live close.
Functional Capability and Activity
Internet technologies have vast potential to help individuals overcome various functional limitations—from minor inconveniences to severe disabilities—so they can participate more actively and independently in daily life. High-speed network connectivity is a key enabler of many supportive technologies.
examples range from commercially available video relay services that allow people who use sign language to make and receive telephone calls, to network-connected robots that assist older adults with daily activities that can become more challenging with age and home automation and monitoring to ensure the environment is safe.
Providing quality care for older adults with chronic conditions and functional limitations is a major commitment, can be complex and highly stressful work. It often requires a team of health care professionals and significant support from family or other unpaid caregivers. High-speed Internet connectivity supports numerous services and applications that can assist caregivers. For example, high-definition video conferencing can offer fast access to health care providers and support groups, and enables family meetings when people live at a distance from each other. Several emerging “smart home” applications can also help reduce the burden of multiple tasks in the caregiver’s hectic daily life. Useful features of a smart home allow residents or their caregivers to manage and control home security, appliances, lighting, and digital thermostats regardless of whether they are at home or at some distant location. example, for my family I have set up a calendar on Google Apps for my mother and aunts so that they can monitor upcoming events for my grandmother. Second is I have setup each of their smart phones to make a group call so that the anyone that takes grandmother to an appointment can have the others listen to the doctor or other professionals have to say and ask questions while there still with the doctor or professional, so communication is improved. Most of the services are very affordable, free or fee reduced for seniors. This aspect of my business is very important, and I offer free, discounted consultations and seminars for family members.
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