Grandpa has plenty of flannel shirts. And if Grandma gets one more basket decorated with kittens, she’s going to scream.
Try getting that senior in your life something new. Something fresh. Something high tech.
More and more people are buying Technology for Seniors—an emerging category of high-tech products that help make senior citizens’ lives more graceful, independent, invigorating and fun. But consumers aren’t limiting their senior shopping to those items with “for Seniors” on the label. Here are a few examples of technologies that help enrich the senior citizen experience and make a fabulous holiday gift.
Broadband Internet Access
The Internet is the quintessential Technology for Seniors! It allows seniors to manage and share health records with doctors and caregivers, research and book the next international trip, foster relationships with kids and grandkids through social networking sites, and continue self-education by researching any conceivable topic from the comfort of their own home.
If the senior in your life isn’t online or is using a dial-up connection, this is a great gift.
High-speed Internet requires a computer and costs around $30/month.
“Smart phones” feature advanced touch screen displays, integrated cameras, music and video players, web searching, maps and GPS, and multiple downloadable software programs.
There is no reason why seniors can’t enjoy all of these over-the-top techno features. Seniors take pictures. Seniors watch videos. Seniors surf the Web. Seniors want to know their GPS coordinates.
Two of the most popular smart phones are the Apple iPhone and the Blackberry. In addition to spending a few hundred bucks on the phone, you’ll also need to pay for the monthly service plan with an additional “data plan” to take advantage of all of the smart features.
Forgetting things is normal. But it can also be dangerous—especially when it comes to medication. Luckily, there are several nifty medication reminders on the market. Each of the following technologies can remind you to take your medication multiple times each day.
Yes, each of the following costs money. But when you compare the costs of these devices against the cost of an emergency room visit for medication-related emergencies, they seem outright cheap.
- Watches with multiple alarms ($80 – $250)
- Pill boxes with integrated reminder alarms ($40 – $100+)
- Phone reminder services ($30/month)
Automatic Fall Detectors
Sensors worn on the body can detect the signature motion of falling. When a fall is detected in the home, the device automatically sends a message to both a call center and optionally to family or friends through text messaging or a phone call.
Both HaloMonitoring and BrickHouse Alert companies offer this technology. They provide the equipment for free—you just need to pay a monthly subscription fee.
Robot Vacuum Cleaner
iRobot’s Roomba is a small circular machine that vacuums your floor. This little cylinder powers itself up at a preprogrammed time and then zooms around the room in a semi-random pattern. When it hits a wall it follows it. When it hits a chair leg, it goes around it. At the end of the process, after it has covered the entire floor, the Roomba returns to its station to recharge.
The Roomba costs between $150 and $600 depending on the model.
Nike+ iPod Shoe
The Nike+ shoe integrates with an iPod (music player) to measure how far and fast you walk or run. After your walk, you upload the data to your computer where previous walks (or runs) are logged. This provides you with a record of your exercise and allows you to analyze your performance, calorie consumption and overall cardio fitness.
GPS for Your Car
The automotive GPS provides the driver with real-time verbal instructions on how to get to her destination. No more pulling over into the gas station to buy six maps and collect conflicting directions from a dozen different travelers who are probably as lost as you. Now you just enter your destination into the GPS, the GPS determines your current location based on readings from multiple satellites, and then it calculates the best route to your destination.
Prices range from $150 to $600.
Nintendo Wii (Pronounced “Wheee!!!”)
The Nintendo Wii is a game system that features wireless remotes and motion sensors so that your body movements control the character’s onscreen movements. For example, if you’re playing Wii tennis, you swing at the ball and your onscreen character also swings. Time it right and you’ll actually hit the virtual ball!
One of the most popular Wii games among seniors is bowling. In fact, Wii bowling tournaments are becoming commonplace in retirement communities.