By Kelli Kiemle, AIF®, Director of Marketing and Client Experience
This is the final part of our 3-part series on how to help aging parents plan for well-lived futures. Part 1 focused on health and care and part 2 discussed financial and legacy planning. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the ways technology is offering solutions to meet the needs of aging people. I’ll finish with some fun options older Americans can take advantage of.
There are a number of advances in the technology realm that can help people communicate with one another, stay organized and safe, and stay connected with the larger world. With HH’s work with the Stanford Center on Longevity we keep seeing more and more developments of new technology: emerging solutions that can help support all of us as we grow older. To learn more about the Center’s Longevity Design Challenges, start here: https://longevity.stanford.edu/design-challenge/#top.
Here are some essential ways that technology is helping us improve our well-being and security as we age:
- Communication: We’ve all heard how social connections are an integral contribution to longevity – and for most of us, contribute strongly to our happiness as well. For the elderly, COVID has seriously strained many of these connections; thankfully, new technologies are racing to offer answers. There are a wide range of applications to choose from in this area, but having an appropriate device and having the tech know-how to use FaceTime and Zoom, see photos of family members on Instagram, etc. can be very important.
With all of this technology, it could be important to appoint a family member to be the tech troubleshooter in case issues or questions come up. Or if you don’t have a family member available to do this, there are a number of services available – check out your local geek squad to ensure you have the proper security measures set up. As someone who is not great with tech, I can speak from experience: It’s awesome to have someone to help.
- Another development that will help aging parents is the ability to video conference with health care providers. The accessibility of telemedicine has gone up tremendously due to COVID and will help those who are unable to leave their homes or find transportation.
- Transportation: If you cannot always depend on family and friends for rides, the emergence of Lyft and Uber has made it a lot easier to get around. Whether for groceries, doctors appointments, or even social gatherings – seniors can use these forms of transportation to get around town much easier on their timeline.
- Organization and safety: Sometimes with age come some memory issues, so it’s important for your aging parents to have a plan on how to stay organized beyond just keeping a simple calendar. Using a device’s smart assistant, like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc., to set reminders can serve as prompts for tasks to do throughout the day – or remind someone of an upcoming appointment. Another strategy would be to use this system or MedMinder to help track daily or weekly medications.
Also, there are a number of other tech services such as: tech type watches that act as a medical alert system or connect to a phone in case of emergency, specialty lighting devices, etc. Lots of great resources out there, you just have to figure out which ones are best for your situation.
- Passwords: Remembering passwords and sharing these with your loved ones is hard enough. But trying to ensure they remain protected from the amount of online fraud that’s going on is nearly impossible. At our firm, we use LastPass to store unique passwords all in one place. This system also allows me to share my passwords with my husband or anyone close to me. It gives us two options: To share the actual password or just access. This is super helpful and important with all of the requirements of different websites now.
I’ve discussed financial, health, and care concerns. Now it’s time to talk about some of the benefits of being an aging parent beyond having more time to spend traveling, seeing family and friends, and doing the things they choose to do. Some benefits we would like to highlight include:
- Senior Discounts: There are a number of discounts out there from restaurants, to airlines, to movie theaters, to rental cars, etc. If you ask, there may be a discount that you didn’t even know about! Here’s one list of possibilities to check out: https://www.theseniorlist.com/senior-discounts/.
- National Park Lifetime Pass: This is one advantage for seniors that I felt deserved its own line item. An $80 lifetime pass provides access to more than 2,000 national recreation sites. Check it out if you like to spend time outdoors! One of our clients has it on his bucket list to visit all 2,000 sites.
- SilverSneakers: It’s important to keep moving even as we age, so signing up for free workout classes through Medicare is an important thing to do and a great benefit!
We hope this checklist of considerations we’ve presented over the past three articles will be a helpful starting point. I’d suggest starting the conversation now and then creating a bite-sized plan to tackle one item at a time. We are always here to help, so please contact your HH advisory team with any questions you may have. We’ve talked through a lot of challenges with our clients over the years and would be happy to share ideas that might be helpful for your family’s needs.
Here’s to fearless conversations that lead to action for well-lived lives now and in the future!
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