Reducing social isolation during retirement has always been a focus for the health and well being of seniors. In this time of greater social isolation, taking advantage of new and existing technology can help to increase connectivity and reduce the negative impact of prolonged isolation on seniors.
Voice assistants can help with hearing loss which is associated with elevated risks in dementia, depression and falls. Having the ability to control volume allows personalization so that as long as there is not compete hearing impairment, individuals can maximize the benefits of personal audio technology for entertainment, education and conversation.
The pandemic has accelerated the use of e-health appointments to ensure that seniors are able to access health care from the comfort and safety of their homes. This has also increased the likelihood of many to reach out for health care when otherwise they may resist due to challenges with transportation or fear that could stand in the way of accessing health care services needed.
FaceTime and other video chatting apps are invaluable resources for seniors who are not able to see family and friends, especially during these challenging times. Research has shown that video chatting can reduce the risk of depression in our older population. The deeper connection of visually seeing others, along with being able to share, helps to improve on the benefits that come from simple telephone conversations.
Some easy programs to get loved ones started on video chatting are FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Zoom. PhonePals Program is a service that is available for lonely or isolated seniors in the Toronto area where trained volunteers provide companionship and social contacts to older adults through weekly phone calls circleofcare.com.
The use of video chatting helps to reduce the risk of depression in all age groups. but especially in those aged 60 and older. This age group tends to be more socially isolated than other age groups, especially during our current restrictions. Video chatting is not only easy to teach, but it is more effective than email, social media and instant messaging.
Staying connected with loved ones helps us all to reduce stress, boost our immune systems, reduce pain and increase energy. Taking advantage of technology is not only something that helps us while we navigate through COVID-19, but after the pandemic ends as well. Read more at helpagecanada.ca for more ways technology can help older Canadians.