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Latest technology to assist and entertain during retirement

There is a lot of new technology that is being adapted into retirement settings because of the positive benefits they have for older people.

Key points:

  • Embracing technology in retirement can make your life easier and more enjoyable

  • Virtual reality is being utilised more and more by the older generation due to its benefits for combating loneliness and mental health issues

  • There are many devices and gadgets that can track your health and help you keep on top of your health problems

Older women trying out virtual reality
Technology has allowed for a lot of changes in how we live our lives and is keeping older generations more connected and entertained. [Source: iStock]

More than ever, older people have been very plugged into new technology and are fully embracing it.

Technology has allowed for a lot of changes in how we live our lives and is keeping older generations more connected and present.

Here is some of the best technology that is available to assist older people while in retirement:

Virtual Reality

A big ‘up and comer’ in the gaming industry, Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming increasingly popular not just with gamers, but also with older people.

Older people are having their lives improved through the use of VR technology, which can assist in reducing loneliness and combat mental health issues.

Many aged care services are utilising VR headsets to transport their clients to places in the world they have never been able to visit. Research has shown that VR technology also has a really positive impact on older people living with dementia or cognitive difficulties.

VR is more accessible than ever and can be easily set up in your own home to enjoy by yourself or with friends and family. Most VR headsets can be bought from most gaming and electronic stores.

"Exergames"

A new type of fitness regime that encourages older people to exercise, "exergames" are a combination of exercise and gaming.

These games require remote controls and motion sensors, so you have to get up to move!

Sometimes getting out and about can be difficult, but in your own home, where it's safe and comfortable, you can freely engage in exergames and have fun while doing it.

These games took flight in the early 2000s, the days of Wii Fit or the Playstation 2's EyeToy. However, exergames have been developed further to provide results for older people like improved cognition and physical ability.

Researchers have found the exercise component mixed with enjoying oneself really encourages older people to do exergames.

Apps

New games and informative applications (apps) are available at your fingertips like never before. Your mobile phone can be a portal for everything tech-related you need.

There are apps for food and recipes, or you can have all your social media in one place. Your bank might have an app for all your banking needs, or your favourite newspaper can be easily accessible from your phone.

If you want to learn a new language, DuoLingo might be for you. A free app for your phone and there are over 30 languages available to learn.

Looking for something to really train your brain? Peak is a brain training app that specifically pushes your cognitive skills and stimulates your mind through fun games.

What about reading a book on your phone? Kindle has a free app to do just that. Or if you can't read on the phone but would like to listen to a book, Audible may be a better option.

If you are wanting a bit of harmless fun to pass the time, Words With Friends is a great way to challenge your friends or family by playing online scrabble together.

Whatever you’d like to do, there is probably an app for it!

Health tracking and appointments

It is a lot easier to track your health these days. If you have a lot of appointments, it is easy to set alerts and calendar updates on your devices so you are always ready for your doctor's meetings. There are also applications that can store all of your personal medical data, which can easily be sent on to any new doctors or specialists.

Some new technology can be worn or placed around the home so it can track your movements through the day - information that can be sent to your family or doctor so they know you are doing well. It can also help if you have dementia and immediately flag someone if you are not sticking to your normal routine.

The older you get the more medication you may have to take. With all the different medications you need to take, it can be difficult to remember the specific times and days you need to take them. Plus, messing up your medication can be dangerous.

Luckily, technology has made it easier to manage your medication, with multiple apps available on your phone or tablet that can tell you when to take your medication, track your medication history, create a medication inventory, and even develop health reports for you.

Telehealth services are an added bonus at the moment, assisting older people who can't leave home or are too far from medical services. It makes medical appointments more accessible and it means you won't be late for your medical appointment again!

Smartwatches

Smartwatches are very popular with people of all ages at the moment. No matter the brand, smartwatches offer a range of unique and handy features that can keep you connected to family and friends, as well as your own body.

Some features may include sleep quality, general health tracking, physical activity, heart rate, respiratory rate, fall detection, emergency voice calls, receiving messages, accepting phone calls, and much more. 

Usually, most smartwatches come with an accompanying app for your phone, and you can track your own fitness or health progress. Depending on the brand, it might have inbuilt GPS tracking, which you can provide to family and friends if you have dementia.

Smartwatches are also good alternatives to pendant alarms since many of these watches have added in fall detection features. They look fashionable and people in public wouldn't even know you were wearing something with a medical alert.

Assistive technology and appliances 

You may not need home modifications early in your retirement, but it may be something you require later in life. Assistive technology and appliances can be a form of home modification that can keep you at home for longer and also make your life a whole lot easier.

Smart home devices with voice command, like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, have become commonplace in homes. They can connect to your lights, turn on your television, rattle off your upcoming appointments, play music, or take notes down, like a grocery list.

It can simplify the day to day and make navigating around your own home effortless. As fall risks are big issues for older Australians, having a virtual assistant turn the lights on in rooms, for example, can be really helpful.

Assistive tools can present in a range of ways:

  • Chairs that adjust when you sit in them

  • Liquid level indicators to stop overspills or burning yourself

  • Assistive cutlery to help if you develop muscle tremors

  • Smart doorbells to alert you when someone is visiting

  • Even the Roomba, a self-cleaning robot, is considered assistive technology and can keep the house clean

If you are struggling to watch TV, new audible devices called TV Ears can be worn so you can hear the dialogue clearly, without any interference from nearby sounds.

Assistive technology can also help with loneliness, with social robots being implemented in more homes for older people who live alone. The robots can talk and communicate with the older person, plus keep them connected with family and friends.

What new technology are you looking forward to using in retirement? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Finding purpose in your retirement
How to maintain and improve mobility and reduce falls
Personal alarms and its benefits for older people

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