How today’s older adults are rapidly adapting to the digital age. 

There is a somewhat common perception that older adults are unfamiliar with and unable to use new technologies. While it’s true that most adults 65 and over aren’t early adapters, many are embracing new technologies at a growing rate, learning how to incorporate them into their lives as a way of supporting their goals, intentions, and priorities.

According to PEW research, four-in-ten seniors now own smartphones, more than double the amount that did so in 2013. While only 17% of those over the age of 80 are smartphone users, 59% of adults between the ages of 65 and 69 own a smartphone. For many, the decision to purchase and learn how to use a smartphone was prompted by the understanding of how it would help them stay connected to loved ones and make certain tasks – like getting directions to unfamiliar places – so much easier.

We can see a similar trend with internet use. Even though they didn’t grow up with computers and the internet, over the past decade and a half, internet adoption among seniors has risen steadily. In 2000, only 14% of seniors were internet users. Today, 67% of those over the age of 65 use the internet on a regular basis. As with smartphone use, younger seniors use the internet more often and for a wider variety of purposes than those who are a decade, or more, older than them.

When seniors go online, what is their device of choice? For about 32%, it’s a tablet. Tablets are light and portable and offer the ability to change the font size. Most importantly, seniors like using a touch screen. While most tablet users probably also own a smartphone and perhaps a desktop or laptop computer, tablets offer ease of use not found on either. Touch screen technology makes tablets easy to use. They can accomplish the same tasks as they can on a computer, but it’s more portable, doesn’t take up a lot of room, and is easier to use for reading and surfing the web than their smartphones.

Robot Invasion

The age of robot and human interaction is underway and its opening up new possibilities for how we experience aging. Robots already exist that can take out the trash, assist you in walking across the room or up and downstairs, and even do your shopping. They can recognize human emotions, tell you a joke, and even learn. Although we’re still years away from robots that can function as complete caregivers, we are seeing significant advances in computerized robotic technology that will help older adults lead independent lives for longer than they would otherwise.

One of the most remarkable examples is Robot-Era in Europe, which recently conducted a 4-year pilot testing robotic assistance for seniors. During the trial, robots did the shopping, helped with household chores, and kept an eye out for safety hazards. The trial was more about how receptive the seniors were to their assistance than what the robots could do. Most seniors loved their robotic helpers, recognizing how valuable they can be in extending the number of years spent living independently in their own homes.

SoftBank Robotics is also working on a robot named Romeo, which is specifically designed to assist older adults and those losing their autonomy. Romeo can keep track of your schedule and remind you about important events, like when it’s time to take your medicine. He can perform household chores and assist you in getting out of a chair and moving about the house.

Physical Fitness and Wellness

With over 10,000 installations on five continents, HUR has been the leading supplier of strength training equipment for seniors for decades because of the machine’s technology-driven evidence-based design. HUR SmartTouch technology is a cloud-based computerized exercise and operating solution that remembers individual exercise programs, monitors progress, and makes automatic machine adjustments for each user. Most importantly, seniors love it.

” I started strength training for the first time in my life because we have HUR equipment. Before, I was intimidated and afraid I’d do it wrong. The HUR Smart technology takes all the guesswork out and gave me the confidence to go for it. Today, I feel stronger than ever. I can even do push-ups! It’s especially nice to get in a workout that targets every muscle group in just 35 minutes!” – Ann Riley, resident at Presbyterian Village North

One of the primary reasons that HUR SmartTouch technology is so popular is because it affords seniors who would otherwise need assistance, the ability to work out independently. Trainers create exercise programs for individual clients and program them into the HUR SmartTouch system. After that, seniors need only to swipe their wristband at the machine for it to automatically adjust to their pre-programmed specifications, load their personalized program, and display it on a touch screen. The touch screen guides their workout, counting reps and even making small, incremental adjustments to the amount of resistance as they get stronger.

In addition to a full suite of strength training and balance machines, HUR SmartTouch technology has recently been added to select CyberCycle and SCIFIT cardio machines. Senior living communities across the country are adding these machines to their fitness facilities in response to an increased demand for active aging solutions. Like emerging robot technology, HUR SmartTouch helps fulfill a deep desire in most seniors to live a full, active, independently long life.

“I’m feeling fine at 89 and I owe it all to HUR. Because of my diligent efforts to stay strong and fit I was able to continue playing ice hockey for the superstars until I was 85 years old.  I work out 3x each week using the HUR strength training equipment and want to remain strong and vibrant for my grandchildren.” – Jim Graham, Paradise Valley resident