The entire point of technology is to make life better in some way, whether that be by making a better mousetrap, a more efficient clothes dryer, or a more reliable automobile.
The technology that powers the small, mobile device in your pocket can significantly improve the quality of life for many seniors.
When it comes to apps that can be used on a smartphone, tablet, or other device, there’s a lot to choose from. It’s all about knowing which app you need, and which ones provide the most value.
Aging Resources of Douglas County has searched far and wide for the best senior-friendly apps that can help aging individuals get more out of life, stay independent, and just live better lives.
Here are seven of our absolute favorites!
[Note: Remember that some apps are free, while many are not. Be sure to check to see if any of the apps you’re interested in cost money to use or not.]
App #1: Find My iPhone
Find My iPhone is a free app that can be installed on any modern iPhone. The point of this app is to help you find your iPhone if ever gets stolen or comes up missing.
Here’s how it works:
We especially love this app because it costs nothing, and it’s exceptionally easy to use.
App #2: Life360
Life360 is a free app that works on all iOS devices, like an iPhone. This app gives you real-time location information on the whereabouts of the people in your life—grandkids, neighbors, friends, whomever!
All they have to do is install Life360 on their devices, and then share their location activity with you from within the app. It’s easy!
App #3: Skype
An alternative to FaceTime, Skype is a great option for those who have a Microsoft account. You can install Skype on virtually any mobile device, and it has a handy video chat feature which uses your devices built-in camera to live stream a video of you while you speak!
You can even place international phone calls using Skype, for a small fee.
App #4: Red Panic Button
Sometimes, a slip and fall or other emergency can happen seemingly out of nowhere. For seniors who want to be able to immediately signal for help during these situations, the Red Panic Button app is a godsend.
This app sends an emergency alert text to all of the people you program into it, the moment you hit the red panic button.
App #5: WordBrain
One of the best ways to stay sharp is to exercise your brain with a puzzle game. WordBrain is a fun, easy-to-play word game app that is completely free to use.
Seniors love it because it’s easy to read, engaging, and you can even play with friends!
App #6: Netflix
What if you could watch your favorite shows and movies, including classics from years ago, all on your iPhone or Android phone? You can with Netflix, an incredibly popular app that live streams movies and TV shows directly to your mobile device.
Netflix is free to download and install, however it requires a paid subscription of roughly $10 a month in order to view the entire library of content.
For seniors, Netflix is a great app due to its easy-to-use interface and easy search function. An alternative to Netflix is the YouTube app, which does not require a subscription to use. With the YouTube app, you can view all of the YouTube videos you might normally watch on your computer, but on your mobile phone, instead!
App #7: Castro
For just $3.99, you can install the Castro app on your iPhone. This app is a no-nonsense podcasting app that brings you fresh content from multiple outlets including NPR and the BBC. Just open the app, select a podcast, and then sit back and relax!
The above-listed apps are great for seniors, and all of them are easy to use. Is there an app that you love, that we didn’t include on this list? Let us know! We’re always interested in helping seniors in Douglas County get more out of the technology in their lives.
Thanks for reading!
The holidays are officially in full swing! It’s time for merriment, quality time with family and friends, and fun activities that we can all enjoy—especially seniors.
This holiday season, Aging Resources of Douglas County wants to help make this year one to remember. In that effort, we’re offering up these five ideas for things seniors can do to get the most out of the ‘most wonderful time of the year’.
Activity #1: Holiday Arts and Crafts
There’s no stopping you when you’re armed with a colorful stack of construction paper, some sharp scissors, and a little creativity! The possibilities for creating something fun and festive are endless; here are some great crafting ideas to get you started:
Activity #2: Sing Holiday Songs
When you’re ready to really ramp up the holiday spirit, why not break out in song? Holiday classics are always in season after Thanksgiving, so get some hot apple cider to whet your whistle, and organize a singing session with the entire family.
Choose from timeless classics like those on this YouTube playlist, including such unforgettable tunes as:
Singing Christmas songs are a fantastic way to recollect those great holiday memories from times gone by.
Activity #3: Check Out Local Light Displays
The Denver Parade of Lights is always a great time, and seniors can relax by sitting in the grandstand sections. Tickets for these seats are reasonable, too—often costing less than $20 each.
Also, the Denver Zoo runs an ongoing holiday lights event that is well worth visiting. Tickets for this fun event range from $15-$20 per person.
And then, there is always the option of driving around suburban neighborhoods near you, admiring the handiwork of those who’ve toiled so hard to transform their homes into lit-up works of art!
Activity #4: Watch a Classic Holiday Movie
Holiday Movie Night is a surefire way to share the joy of the season. Have a chuckle or two watching the eponymous movie, “A Christmas Story”, or relive holidays past by running a screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, with James Stewart and Donna Reed.
Need more movie ideas? Here’s a big list of some of the best movies to watch this holiday season. Grab some popcorn, corral the grandkids, and settle in for an evening of laughs and good times.
Activity #5: Have a Card-Writing Party
Thoughtful, hand-written holiday greeting cards are a real treasure these days, especially when so much of our communication has moved towards electronic forms. This holiday activity idea is simple, affordable, and a ton of fun!
And remember, you don’t have to rush out to your local Hallmark store and spend a lot of money to do a great job with holiday cards this season. Start with the basics—some plain white paper and a few colored pencils—and create whatever you feel. There are no rules, and sometimes, the best holiday cards are the ones that are made personally, with the sender’s authenticity and uniqueness baked right in.
What other fun, festive holiday activities can you think of? Let us know!
Most Importantly: Enjoy Life!
At Aging Resources of Douglas County, we’re passionate about empowering seniors to live their best lives. This holiday season, take some time out with the senior in your life, and spend some of your holiday season appreciating them as they continue to add more and more value and character to your life every day.
Seniors love being included in holiday activities. Hopefully, this list of holiday activity ideas gives you some food for thought as you go about planning festivities with friends and family. Have a great holiday season this year, and we’ll see you in 2020!
That senior in your life can sometimes be difficult to shop for, especially when a birthday or other special occasion is around the corner.
What do you get the senior who has it all? Or if they don’t necessarily have it all, what can you get them that you can feel assured they’ll love?
Today’s seniors are much more keyed into technology and consumer devices than many of us might give them credit for. And, there’s a lot of value that can be realized by giving a gift that is not only easy to use, but also provides some kind of enhancement to quality of life.
The following five gifts represent just a sample of some of the best gifts for seniors. Read on and see why!
Gift #1: A Shiatsu-Style Neck Massager
Ahh...to come home and relax with a nice massage. Wouldn’t it be great if that could happen every day, without having to pay for a masseuse? Now it can, with a handy, portable massager pillow that seniors will love.
This electronic pillow uses specially designed massage knobs located just below the surface of the pillow to gently knead and massage those sore neck muscles. It’s small enough to be taken virtually anywhere, and it conveniently plugs into any 120V outlet for easy operation.
The easy-to-locate on/off button is a cinch to operate, and the exterior fabric is composed of durable materials that should last for years.
Gift #2: A Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock
Gone are the days of having to wake up to the abrasive, jarring “ANG ANG ANG” sound of a traditional alarm clock. This wake-up light alarm clock from Phillips has been clinically proven to improve sleep, energy, and well-being, and it accomplishes this by slowly increasing the brightness of the light it shines at a set time of the day.
So, instead of being jilted out of bed with a loud racket, seniors can be gracefully lifted from their sleep with a gentle, natural glow.
This light-up alarm clock includes a snooze feature and 10 different brightness settings that can be adjusted for just the right amount of light.
Gift #3: A Voice Recognition Memo Machine
If there’s one thing seniors love, it’s something that makes home life easier. This product fits the bill, as it allows the user to create shopping lists and other memos using just their voice!
Just push the ‘record’ button, say the items that are needed from the grocery store, and the voice recognition memo machine prints out a handy list. There’s even a kitchen timer built into it, and up to two lists can be saved at any given time.
This gift is especially helpful for seniors who struggle with memory or cognitive issues, and the printed-out grocery list can easily be tucked into a purse or pocket before heading out to go to the store.
Gift #4: A Digital Photo Frame
The only thing better than wonderful pictures of friends and family is a single photo frame that can show them all in one place!
This digital photo frame isn’t like the rest, however. It features a built-in speaker, alarm function, and even storage capacity large enough to display thousands of high-resolution images! Add to this the fact that this digital photo frame automatically turns itself off when no motion is detected, and you’ve got a top contender for the best gift for the senior in your life.
The best part about getting your senior a digital photo frame is that they’ll think of you every time they look at it.
Gift #5: A Smart Thermostat
The Nest wifi-enabled smart thermostat is the single most useful device for those who want to be able to adjust their indoor temperature from the comfort of their smartphone. This amazing little device connects to in-home wifi so the user can easily access temperature controls using the Nest app on their phone.
Powered by Google, the entire system can be set up and running in minutes. With energy saving features like automatic heat and A/C operation, the Nest Smart Thermostat is both easy to use and a great money saver.
With a little creativity and some “smart” thinking, you can get a great gift for whichever senior has a celebratory event coming up. Whether it be Christmas, a birthday, or something else entirely, choosing one of the gifts on this list is a sure way to surprise and impress. Happy gift giving from your friends at Aging Resources of Douglas County!
The internet. Ipads. Flat-screen televisions. Electric vehicles.
Technology has improved so much that everywhere we look, there are signs that the world is a very, very different place than it was just 30 or 40 years ago. Advancements in the treatment of chronic illnesses have also made it so that life can be lived longer, and it also means that people can have more of the meaningful, fulfilling experiences they desire to have as they get older.
It’s clear that technology for aging populations will continue to be a part of all of our lives. We’re seeing it already with companies like Uber and Lyft using their ridesharing platforms to provide seniors with easier, more accessible transportation.
And, companies like Samsung and Google have released smartphones with large, easy-to-read screens seniors love. These devices are helping aging people stay connected with their loved ones, keeping their social lives vibrant and their involvement with family consistent and reliable.
But, did you know that there are even more ways that modern technology is empowering the aging population? Below are three amazing examples of how the ‘smart’ products of today are helping to make seniors’ lives better in many ways.
#1: Discrete, Real-Time Monitoring
What if a single system could monitor the activity of a retirement home resident, down to their location, the amount of time that has passed since their last trip to the bathroom, and many other metrics? Thanks to the Elsi Smart Floor, all of this is possible.
It works like this: a network of pressure-sensitive floor tiles are installed into the living area of the senior. These floor tiles sense the activity of the senior, and if there is ever a fall, the abrupt change in pressure on the floor tiles signals an alarm. This alarm can be sent directly to the medical staff on-hand so that prompt medical aid can be delivered quickly if needed.
Smart Floors are often integrated with other technologies to provide caregivers with a much clearer picture of exactly where their patients are and how they’re doing.
Even though these smart floors are mostly installed into places like hospices and retirement homes, they are available for individual residences.
#2: Smart Locks
One of the most common frustrations for many seniors is remembering where they put their keys. And, for those with arthritis or other inflammatory diseases, actually operating a deadbolt or other door lock can be a trying process. That’s why smart locks are becoming so popular for seniors.
These modern feats of engineering work just like traditional door locks, but they use a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone in order to operate. So, instead of needing a physical key to open a door, a tap on a phone screen is all that is required to lock or unlock any door.
Igloo Home, one of the up-and-coming manufacturers of smart locks, is poised to be a go-to resource for seniors as they explore the idea of nixing their keys and using their smartphones as a way to get in and out of their homes, instead.
#3: Voice Activation and Artificial Intelligence
Have you heard someone use the phrase “Hey, Siri”, recently? If so, you already know the basics of how voice activation and artificial intelligence work.
Voice-activated computers aren’t necessarily new. The earliest example of voice recognition technology dates back to at least the 1950’s. But, today, using your voice to control your environment is becoming more and more plausible for seniors in specific.
Why? Well, anything that reduces the amount of physical activity required to get something done is going to benefit the life of someone living in a retirement home or in hospice. So, if the temperature of a room could be changed by simply saying, “Turn on the heat”, instead of requiring a trip to the thermostat to make an adjustment, the benefit is huge for the senior.
Voice recognition and artificial intelligence can also be used to operate household appliances and even to order groceries when supplies are low.
When you add up the many benefits that are afforded to seniors by the above-listed technologies, the future looks pretty good! As we all age, it will be interesting to see what other technological developments will make our lives easier.
Although technological advancements will continue to help the aging population, we believe there is no substitute for an actual human helping hand. Our volunteer programs help connect seniors with the assistance they need.
What technologies would you like to see come to fruition? Comment and let us know!
It’s probably not surprising to hear that, on average, humans are living longer now than they ever have throughout recorded history. This continuing trend of increased life expectancy has been a part of modern life for at least the past 75 years, which leads many to ask the question, “What does the future of longer living look like?
In this week’s blog post, Aging Resources of Douglas County is offering up some things to consider when thinking about life expectancy in the future. While no one has a crystal ball they can use to see into the future, there are some exciting technological developments that very well may contribute to an ever-increasing human life expectancy.
Survival vs. Living Healthier
Before we dive into what science is doing today to help us live longer tomorrow, let’s look at the many reasons why we’re doing so well as it is.
If we look back to where humanity was just 200 years ago, we find a very different picture of human mortality rates compared to where we are today. For example, if you were five years old in 1841, you were only expected to live to be about 55 years old. Why?
The most explanatory answers are vaccination, improved civil hygiene, and more ready access to medicine and medical services.
Vaccination can be said to be the single most important reason why diseases like measles, Rubella, and polio haven’t been killing millions of young children every year for the past hundred or so years. Because vaccinations actually prevent the onset of devastating illnesses, young children stand a much higher chance of achieving their longest life expectancy.
Remember that lifespan and life expectancy are two totally different data points. When children get vaccinated, their lifespan averages only increase when they continue to live longer lives. Life expectancy, however, for all of them improves immediately upon vaccination.
We take for granted things like running water, industrial air filters, and antiseptic cleaners like Purell. They’re all around us, and they’re just part of our everyday lives. 200 years ago, however, this was not the case. The proliferation of disease-causing germs significantly contributed to the spread of fatal illnesses, especially in areas of dense human population.
Today, because we understand so much about Germ Theory, we’re able to avoid an early end to our lives at the hands of devastating infections and viruses.
Access to Medicine
Our infrastructure dedicated to rapidly responding to medical emergencies has meant that those who need critical medical attention can actually get it. Especially in the United States, most people know that if something happens that seriously harms or disables them, they can call an ambulance using 911, and within a few minutes, a medical team will arrive to assist them.
What’s more, the tools, techniques, medicines, and healing modalities have improved across the board, resulting in better diagnoses for whatever ailments humans present at the emergency room.
What Does the Future Hold for Aging?
For all of us, there is a genetically encoded length of our lives. The ways that our bodies break down over time are most would agree, unavoidable if given enough time. Things like cancer and heart disease will, at least for the foreseeable future, continue to cause ‘natural’ deaths for human beings based on their nature and what we know about how these diseases manifest.
With as many impressive technologies that exist today—things like the internet, Maglev trains, and Artificial Intelligence—one might think that science has a lot in store for us in the aging department. So, are scientists ready to start giving us super pills that make us live to 500 years old? Not quite.
Instead, what modern scientists and healthcare professionals are suggesting for a longer life is a lot of what we’ve already been hearing for the past 50 or so years. As it turns out, these three categories continue to be most important when determining how long we’ll live:
So, it’s best not to hold out for some marvel of medicine that is going to make us live forever. Instead, you have a better shot at living longer by saying no to the pizza, taking walks regularly, and watching your weight.
Although these lifestyle choices can add years to your life, there will eventually come a time where you'll need the assistance of others. When that time comes, contact Aging Resources of Douglas County to help get you started.
Anyone can fall prey to identity theft or a financial scam. Older adults, however, rank as one of the largest demographics targeted by scammers. The FTC's 2017 report documented that seniors aged 60 years and older accounted for 35% of fraud and 18.9% of ID theft complaints.
The FBI Promotes "Fraud against Seniors" Awareness
The FBI attributes several factors to senior vulnerability when it comes to identity theft and other types of fraud.
Medical Identity and Insurance Theft
A caregiver or family member may steal the senior's Medicare number to obtain prescription drugs or file fraudulent claims. Because the Medicare and Social Security numbers have been one and the same, gaining access to such has had far-reaching effects.
The inaccuracy of the individual's medical record may lead to ineffective or life-threatening diagnoses and treatments. On a purely financial level, your loved one is charged for services not received. While the situation can be corrected with proper documentation and diligence, it takes considerable effort to work through such a quagmire of deception.
How to Protect Yourself
Older adults are often less proficient with technology, which makes them much more vulnerable to online scams. Clicking on an email link that appears to be from a friend, relative, bank, or government entity can create an in-depth web of identity and account theft.
It may appear to be a relative asking for help or an organization asking you to confirm your account number. Once you click on the link, you're redirected to a fraudulent site that steals the information you enter.
How to Protect Yourself
While everyone has probably received a telemarketing or spam phone call at one time or another, seniors are particularly susceptible to specific types of phone scams.
Receiving a call that asks for up-front money or expresses a sense of urgency is an immediate red flag. Some of the wording may sound like the following:
Whether you're concerned about your own safety or that of a loved one, it's always in your best interest to educate yourself for protection and prevention. Because seniors are particularly vulnerable to identity theft and other types of scams, helping to educate as a volunteer is a worthwhile opportunity to serve.
It’s an exciting time to be aging! So many new technologies and services are emerging: from robots that help seniors communicate with family members who live across the country, to wearable devices that monitor health conditions. There have been great strides in improving the quality of life as we get older. But sadly, in the middle of all these innovative designs, isolation is one of the biggest threats to the health of America’s seniors. And, although this health risk is not often discussed, at least 25% of seniors over 65 are impacted. The devastating effects can be felt physically, mentally and emotionally. A study done by AARP revealed that social isolation is as detrimental to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
Being isolated means you may be cut off from certain benefits and resources that you are eligible for, and that would greatly benefit you. If you can’t drive, you can’t get to the organizations that can help. Isolated seniors may not visit their doctor regularly or get to the grocery store as often as they’d like due to lack of transportation. Recent Medicare studies show that isolated seniors have an increased risk of high blood pressure, depression, dementia, malnutrition and other harmful health issues. Loneliness carries a higher overall risk of mortality for both men and women in their older years.
How can you help combat isolation? Reach out and ask — there are many wonderful organizations right here in Douglas County that serve the older community. Connect with your local senior center — there is one in Castle Rock and another in Parker that host a wide range of activities. If you need additional services or don’t know who can help with a specific issue, Aging Resources of Douglas County (ARDC) is a resource center that provides not only programs and services for seniors but also offers information on aging issues and referrals to other professional agencies. The mission of this nonprofit is to help seniors stay independent, in their homes, and engaged in living. Recently ARDC has partnered up with the nonprofit, SECOR Cares, to bring a mobile food market to the rural parts of the county. Rural outreach efforts also include providing education and information on aging issues, while meeting seniors where they are. Not everyone has access to get into the urban centers where most services are located. And with 82% of Douglas County being rural, this outreach has been very well received.
One of Aging Resources’ newest projects surrounding senior isolation has been to develop an inter-generational program that connects home bound seniors with elementary school classrooms. Teachers sign up to have their students receive a presentation on what it means to get older, and afterward, the children write letters and cards and send artwork to seniors throughout the school year. And the seniors are writing back and forming pen-pal bonds! Kelsey Thiessen, ARDC’s program manager, states, “Human connection is one of the most important services we provide. Having a friendly voice on the phone when you call our office for assistance and having the opportunity to form new friendships goes a long way to battling senior isolation.”
Sometimes, a friendly voice can make all the difference in the world. Many seniors live alone and can go days without talking to another person. This isolation can make you feel pretty lonely and depressed. Everybody needs the connections of a human voice, and these phone calls turn into friendships; something people look forward to.
Meet Karen, a Neighbor Network volunteer who comes in every week, to make calls to her new friends.
"I sure like it when Karen calls me. We visit about what's going on, and she always remembers to ask how my cat is doing," says Martha, an 86-year-old woman who lost her husband last year. "It gets so lonely and quiet here all by myself, and I am thankful for Karen.
If you are looking for ways to make a difference, consider volunteering! You may contact Aging Resources at 303-814-4300 for more information or visit www.AgingResourcesDougCo.org
Let's face it: We're getting older. Very soon one in four residents will be over the age of 60 here in Douglas County. And for the first time in human history, there will be more older adults than young children in the global population. Adults aged 65 and over will begin to outnumber children under the age of 5, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
What does it mean to be a senior in 2018? How do you navigate the many channels of aging, and how do you age successfully? When you ask, most older adults want to stay independent for as long as possible, remain in their homes, maintain social connections and enjoy the quality of life they've always had. New data suggests that for most seniors, quality of life is at the top of that list. But what about when that quality of life is challenged — maintaining independence can sometimes be difficult even in the healthiest of seniors.
Nationally, 6 million adults age 65 and older have a disability that prevents them from leaving their homes without help, and 51 percent of people age 75 and older live alone. Older adults who no longer drive can quickly become isolated. They make fewer trips to their doctors and the grocery store and can lose their social connections. Isolated seniors are at a higher risk of health issues, elder abuse, fraud and scams, according to the AARP Foundation.
As we age, living in our own homes can become more of a challenge, especially when health conditions prevent you from keeping up with yard work and maintenance. Even changing out a light bulb or smoke alarm batteries can be daunting when it involves a ladder and you've got mobility issues. HOAs want snow cleared from the sidewalk, and you're recovering from knee replacement surgery. But even with these challenges, the overwhelming majority of seniors say they wish to “age in place.” And living in your own home still might be the best option if you have some help.
What helps many seniors in our county is a connection to an aging resource center; a place to get and give information regarding the issues seniors are facing today and receiving help in navigating those issues. For Douglas County, this place is Aging Resources; a one-stop place to get information on services, links to providers and connections to resources, and to receive direct services, such as transportation, home maintenance and companionship. The organization receives hundreds of calls each week and has strong partnerships with aging professionals in the region. Just knowing there is a place to reach out to has made a significant impact on people's confidence level to remain in their homes and remain independent. Services help fill in the gaps many seniors are facing, and it's a peace of mind to know you have an available resource that specializes in senior services.