Are you an older adult looking into the future? If you live in Minnesota, you can expect to live longer and healthier lives than people in 48 other states, all except Hawaii. That’s the good news for actively aging Minnesotans. It also raises some questions―How will I navigate this longevity? Will I be able to maintain some independence? How will I meet my transportation needs? What if I need help with health transitions? 70% of us retirees will need some level of support, at some point. Whether that support is provided by family members, professional caregivers, or a team that includes both, there are some resources you may not have thought of.
Do you know about the Cassia Learning Lab? We know the majority of you have not because the universal comment, once you meet us, is “We had no idea!” That tells us we’ve missed opportunities to raise awareness of some simple technologies that can significantly impact how people age. How do we know this? Because people who use the technologies tell us they do, whether they’re addressing challenges with mobility, vision or hearing diminishment, social stimulation, or others.
Since well before we opened our doors in 2017, we’ve been building a collection of over 150 low- and higher-tech devices that were designed to support and safeguard you and your care partners. Remember The Clapper? Or “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”? These devices are now in our gadget archives, but they’ve been replaced by some new and emerging options to help you control the home environment or make emergency calls using just your voice. Amazon Alexa and Google Home can help with both. Apple, Samsung and others have developed small wearable devices that not only tell time, but measure your vital signs, locate you in an emergency situation, and connect you to your favorite entertainment in an instant. Some solutions are much simpler but very effective, like motion sensitive lighting for under $10. Some are even free, like the talking book and radio services from MN State Services for the Blind.
There are some myths about older adults and technology. They make us mad. Research informs us that there are just as many tech nerds and tech deniers among older generations as there are in other age groups. Across the age spectrum, the majority of us wait until we need to perform a task or solve a problem before we invest in technology. First we need to know it’s available and where, how much it costs, how to operate it, whether it requires an internet connection or phone service, and other variables.
Consider the Cassia Learning Lab to be your FIRST STOP when you’re ready to do some research on technologies for health, safety, communication, social connectedness and environmental controls. You can call us at 612-554-2317, or send an email to Kate.Ingalls-Maloney@cassialife.org with your questions and suggestions about technologies that have helped you navigate your world.
Kate Ingalls-Maloney is Director of Cassia Technology Integration and the Learning Lab. She has a master’s degree in Education, with a specialty in Learning Technology, and more than 25 years’ experience helping people integrate technologies into their personal and work lives.