This is Why Technology Isn’t All Bad: Digital Health Helps for Seniors

This article was written exclusively for our Allpoint family and readers, by our good friend Sheila Olson of Fit Sheila.

For seniors, staying healthy is both a priority and a challenge. Getting moving, eating healthy, and seeing your doctor regularly are all essential — not to mention time-consuming. Fortunately, technology can help in some unexpected ways.

Fitness Trackers Are Only Getting Smarter

A fitness tracker or smartwatch can help track your physical activity. Many fitness devices involve user forums and even mini competitions, giving you the push you need to keep reaching for your goals. Plus, studies show that older adults who have “support through collaboration” are more likely to stick with long-term use than other groups.

On a fitness watch or other device, GPS tracks your movement and connects with remote apps to highlight calories burned and other statistics. The newest addition to Apple’s smartwatch line, the Series 5, also has a heart rate monitor and electrocardiogram (ECG) feature. Plus, you can program the watch to report falls. Emergency SOS features also help you feel safer while you’re out exercising. An alternative to Apple, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2, also reports your heart rate, monitors physical activity, and learns your routines and fitness activities. Whatever phone you have, there’s a fitness tracker that’s compatible with your platform.

Smartphones Can Help Your Health

As you get older, nutrition becomes more important. Older adults have unique nutritional needs, such as higher levels of calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and B12 for healthy body systems. And a lack of key nutrients can result in malnutrition. According to Mayo Clinic, lack of nutrients can result in wounds that heal more slowly, a weaker immune system, and higher odds of ending up in the hospital. In short, your diet matters, even if you feel healthy otherwise.

Not only does your smartphone connect to your fitness tracker, but it also offers plenty of wellness tools. With a grocery store app, for example, you can order groceries via your smartphone and even have them delivered to your doorstep. This way, you get fresh food without leaving home. Many meal delivery services rely on web and phone applications for customers to place and update orders. These services provide healthy meals that you either prepare at home with supplied ingredients or just reheat in the microwave. If you find it difficult to cook, prepared meal services are ideal.

Of course, there are plenty of other healthy eating ideas for seniors, like visiting a senior center for free meals, signing up for Meals on Wheels, or even hiring a personal chef.

Connecting is a Form of Wellness

Although smartphones put many tools at your fingertips, one of the most crucial for wellness is the phone function. Even if you live far from family or friends, your phone lets you connect via voice or video chat. Psychology Today highlights that seniors who have strong friendships are happier and healthier — all thanks to technology. Prioritize friendships and family connections in your life, and you may notice an improvement in both your mood and overall health.

Wellness Starts with Healthcare Access

Though technology can be a huge help as you work toward wellness, your healthcare plan is still part of the equation. Review your needs and coverage in advance of the Medicare Open Enrollment period—which lasts from October 15th to December 7th. During this period, you can adjust your coverage, costs, and select from network physicians and pharmacies. Open enrollment can be complicated, so the best way to approach it might be with the help of someone knowledgeable. Check locally for resources that can help you navigate insurance, such as community support or area hospital information sessions.

Compare the costs and benefits of each option for healthcare coverage. If you need additional services, a Medicare Advantage plan can help you save money over the long term. The plans cost slightly more, but the benefits with Aetna, for example, include additional coverage on prescription, dental, vision, hearing, and preventative care needs.

Getting older often involves health challenges. But with the right technology, tools, and healthcare coverage, you can take steps toward ensuring your vitality well after retirement.

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