Cold, icy and snowy days are fast approaching and for older adults, this shift in the weather can not only pose a fall hazard and make driving more dangerous, days spent indoors during winter storms can lead to social isolation and cold can worsen chronic health conditions. But new research has encouraging news about how mobile apps for older adults could help seniors better manage their overall health and well-being.
According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal report, extreme weather events can negatively affect the health of all people, but especially vulnerable older adults living alone or with chronic health conditions. After reviewing 35 studies on the use of mobile apps that help seniors manage chronic conditions by providing information about health status and apps that provide information about outdoor weather conditions, researchers found that there was a need for a holistic app that would target more than a single health condition as well as the user’s environment.
By integrating data about individual health with external environmental factors, a more holistic mobile app could be developed that would help seniors stay safer at home while feeling more connected with their communities. While not all older adults feel confident using technology, more than 8 in 10 Canadians over the age of 65 surveyed said they believe technological advances can help older adults stay safer and continue to live independently longer.
The downside to all these data-collecting devices? Critics worry that too much daily information regarding health status and environmental conditions could lead to greater anxiety. And while it’s important to be aware of weather conditions that could put health in jeopardy like icy roads or poor air quality, obsessing over every detail could lead to an unhealthy sense of apprehension.
As more seniors purchase smartphones, apps developed for older users are becoming more popular. Here are a few we like:
Mobile Apps for Seniors
- Pillboxie – create a customized pillbox and set reminders when to take medications
- Lumosity – hundreds of brain games to keep the mind active
- Get Ready Emergency App – Lots of information, videos and step by step actions to take in any emergency situation
- The Weather Channel – track the weather in your area, monitor pollen count and check most-travelled routes and their forecast conditions
- Find My iPhone – Using GPS, your lost phone’s location will show up on a map (on a family member’s phone or the computer) and allow for remote locking to protect your data.
- NPR One – A reliable national and international customizable news source.
- Pandora – Stream your favorite music, artists and songs; free with limited ads
- Blood Pressure Monitor – track and record vital signs and medications; charts help you understand your health and care plan better