Six years ago, I took one of the smartest decisions. I gave as her birthday’s present a Smartphone (the brand is not important!) to my mother when she was 69 years old. Since that day I can assure you that my mother has improved her quality of life.
With a Smartphone we are responding to 2 of the great challenges of our society. On one hand, managing and providing solutions to the problems of an aging population and an increase in life expectancy. And on the other hand, digitize this segment of citizens who are entering in a complex stage of their lives. Their digital gap is reduced because their use is offering access to a world of opportunities and they cannot feel as a threat.
Every day, my mother shows us the infinite benefits that smartphones bring to elderly in their day to day:
• Improve their communication: They can be better connected with family and friends. Through WhatsApp or Instagram they are constantly related to them.
• They revitalize their interpersonal relationships. They actively participate in the lives of their grandchildren. They are a member in the network of contacts of the youngest. Those situations clearly improve their emotional well-being.
• They strengthen their independence and autonomy. For instance during their isolation during COVID-19 period, Zoom has been able to be closer to their relatives.
• They can be fully informed of the key issues in society because they can access their closest media like digital newspaper or magazines.
• Smartphone is a leisure tool that allow be entertained them.
• They overcome prejudices from this stage of life, showing us that they can still contribute a lot in key areas, like education.
• They can use a multitude of applications that allow facing with their health problems. They can access their medical history with the key health information like their diagnosis tests.
• Favoring their cognitive ability: Smartphones favor the connection between neurons, which increases cognitive capacity (memory, attention and concentration)
• Stay more active. The smartphones motivate them and quantify the physical activity they do every day or monitor the quality of their sleep.
The aim of this article is to share some of the applications that demonstrate the high potential of Smartphone to improve the quality of life of this population:
• Diabeting: helps patients with type-II diabetes to carry out physical exercise. Not only strength exercise (through easy videos that can be done with everyday things) but also motivates them to do aerobic exercise. Every time they go out for a walk, the APP simulates to the user that they are doing the Camino de Santiago (one of the paths that most hikers walk on)
• Fit Brains Trainer. they can exercise through games their concentration, mental agility or visual perception.
• Recuerdamed: for poly-medicated patients that allows to create treatment guidelines so that the Smartphone becomes the best caregiver for the users, remembering when to take each pill.
• Babylon Health. Allows patients to be in contact with their doctors to answer questions.
• Daylio. keeps a daily record of the user’s activities. It serves to measure the mood of each and is useful, especially for those with symptoms of anxiety or depression.
• Safe365. allows you to access the location of our relatives. Moreover it also has an emergency button that, when pressed, redirects directly to the emergency services to speed up the rescue process if necessary.
• Tweri: allows to establish safety limits for the Alhzeimer patient’s walks. When the user goes for a walk the application is activated and when it exceeds the established safety limits, an alarm alerts is generated to the caregiver to inform about of the exact position where the patient is.
• Buscar baño. People with inflammatory bowel disease often avoid performing daily actions in which it is essential to be away from home for a long time for fear of being ill and not being able to access a bathroom quickly. The app allows you to locate the closest service among the more than 1,300,000 toilets worldwide that it collects.
I could not conclude this article without highlighting the main key success factor to incorporate the Smartphone effectively in this target. It is essential that their family members empower them in their use. They should teach them that APPs can help them to manage their challenges. Moreover, they must accompany them to know how these applications work and they must be their first contacts in these APP. Only doing that, we can motivate to use it and check the benefits it offers them. Most of these APPs have been carefully developed to take into account the experience of these users. Thus the big problem in increasing the use of this group is not infrastructures problem but rather knowledge of how to use it.
Many technology companies have focused their marketing on this group due to the great sales potential it will have in the future due to its high purchasing capability. A report reveals that in the United States the 115 million people older than 50 years old can generate sales of $ 84 billion in technology products (and their applications) by 2030.