COVID-19 has changed everything about the way we live, especially when it comes to socializing. All over the country, social distancing guidelines have been put into place, with experts recommending that older adults, the most vulnerable populations, be especially careful. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults age 65 and over account for 8 out of 10 coronavirus-related fatalities in the United States. To help keep them from being exposed to unnecessary risks, many seniors are choosing to isolated from both friends and family.
Social distancing can be especially challenging for the elderly who have chosen to age senior care facilities. Many of these places have put in place guidelines that keep family members and friends from visiting in person, leaving seniors without access to the support systems that they’re used to.
But there are other ways to stay connected! Caregivers, family members, and friends of seniors can assist their loved ones in obtaining the things that they need to stay healthy and happy while isolating. Regardless of what your loved one is in need of whether it’s food, medication, safety-enhancing technology, or simply entertainment, there are many products available that can benefit seniors during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond. Below, we provide some suggestions for items that can make your older loved one safer and connected during this difficult time.
Technology to Stay Connected
Seniors throughout the nation are being advised to isolate as much as possible. Whether they live independently or in a residential care community, visits from family and friends or in-person activities are all but gone. Thankfully, technology available today can help us stay connected even if it’s not in person. The following is a list of items, all of which can be purchased online, that allows for the senior in your life to maintain their relationships and prevent loneliness while staying safe and socially distant.
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of seniors using smartphones has more than doubled during recent years. But still, only about 40% of seniors owned a smartphone. If your loved one does not have a cell phone or could benefit from an upgrade to a phone with more features, now is the time to do it.
Not only will a cell phone encourage more frequent communication with friends and family while social distancing, but it can enable freedom and safety once restrictions are lifted. And, cell phones from basically all major retailers are available to purchase online.
A good alternative to a smartphone is a tablet. Often tablets have the same functionality as a smartphone, but with a bigger screen. The large screens on tablets make the devices easier to read and use for many people, particularly those with impaired vision. They strike a balance between a cell phone and a laptop computer, offering more capabilities than a cell phone in a smaller, lighter design than a computer.
When considering a tablet for your loved one, look for one with senior-friendly features like icon size adjustment, loud volume on the speakers, and a large screen. If your loved one is already technically savvy or has a preference for a specific operating system, try to find a tablet that uses the system to make it easier to learn how to use. Tablets are available from most top electronics manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung, and Lenovo. Amazon also manufactures its own well-regarded Amazon Fire tablet line, including the top-rated Fire HD 10 Tablet which retails on the Amazon site for less than $150.
Electronic devices are becoming more and more important these days and laptops offer the features of a desktop but offer portability and convenience. Whether you use your laptop for work, entertainment, or talking to friends and family, it’s likely that you’re spending a lot of time in front of a screen these days. Elderly can experience the same benefits by using a laptop. The devices can serve as a portable entertainment center and make it easier to connect via video with friends, family, and even medical providers using telehealth.
Given that seniors will likely not be using these devices for any heavy work load, you can forego high-memory options and choose a laptop designed for entertainment. Also, laptops are typically less expensive than desktops and heavy work load laptops.
The sale of smart speakers such as the Amazon Alexa or Google Home, have increased dramatically over the past 5 years, with projections showing further increases in the future. The devices provide unique advantages for the elderly, especially those who live independently. Smart speakers and smart home systems can be used for home security, entertainment, communication, and so much more.
With just a little research and planning, these electronics can go a long way in helping your older loved one stay connected.