Technology can sometimes be a scary thing – especially for the elderly. But oftentimes we focus on the negative and forget about the positive impact that technology has on our lives – particularly on health. In this post, we’ll share a few ways to use technology to help your parent or loved one stay heart healthy.
While it’s true that too much social media and screen time can sometimes have a negative impact on health, if it is used the right way, staying connected via online communities can be very beneficial. Social media can also be a great source of health information. Doctors, advocacy organizations, hospitals, and other credible sources often post tips, news, event announcements, and even motivational quotes that can help keep you informed and in the right frame of mind. You can even get questions answered by posting comments on articles you see that you may want more information on.
If heart health is a concern for your parent or loved one, consider encouraging them to join a Facebook group. There are many groups dedicated specifically to heart health and healthy living. Here are a few examples:
Hearing from other people with the same concerns can help reduce the stress and isolation they may be feeling. These groups can be a great source of answers to questions as well as creative ideas for your specific situation (just be sure to consult the doctor!). They can also help you and your loved one better understand what questions to ask your doctor.
Even the silly side of social media can be beneficial to your health. Laughing at a funny video or meme can activate and relieve your stress response and soothe tension in the short term. In the long-term, laughter has been shown to relieve pain and boost immunity, according to Mayo Clinic.
Using apps is a great way to help your parent or loved one with their heart health from a distance. According to Healthline, “Keeping tabs on your health with apps that track heart rate, blood pressure, fitness, and endurance can reveal a lot about the efficacy of medications, lifestyle adjustments, and other treatments. Tracking your metrics is also a great way to have more productive and accurate conversations with your healthcare team.”
Even advocacy and health organizations have developed apps. My Cardiac Coach is an app created by the American Heart Association to teach patients and those in their care team about their condition and the necessary lifestyle changes needed to make, as well as help, patients gain better self-management skills. It can also help track medications.
And speaking of medications, there’s an app for that! If your parent is on a lot of medications, it can be very confusing and overwhelming to keep track. Medisafe and Med Minder are just a couple of options to help keep you on top of the various pills and supplements the doctor prescribes.
Grocery & meal delivery services
Diet is a big component of staying heart healthy, but seniors may not be willing or able to meal prep or cook heart healthy meals for themselves. Perhaps it’s a matter of transportation. Or maybe they just don’t like cooking! Either way, technology has enabled us to order groceries direct to our homes through Amazon or your local grocery store. You can even get already prepared heart-healthy meals delivered to your door. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Whether you’re looking for low-sodium, meatless, gluten-free, or lower calorie options, many meal delivery services employ nutritionists to develop recipes that are in line with diets frequently prescribed by doctors for various conditions. Talk with your doctor before purchasing a meal program. They can review the recipes and make sure they fit within the recommended guidelines.
Learn more about heart-healthy foods in this recent post.
Wearables can do all sorts of incredible things these days! On the higher end are devices like the Apple Watch, which can give you advanced health metrics on demand – no doctor’s office needed. For example, the Apple Watch features a blood oxygen monitor and an electrocardiogram (ECG) system capable of detecting whether you’re experiencing cardiac abnormalities such as atrial fibrillation. There’s also a built-in fall detection tool that automatically contacts emergency services if you fall. The Apple Watch features a relatively loud speaker to help with communication.
Don’t want to go all-out for an expensive wearable? There are less expensive ones that can still be beneficial for tracking activity. Exercise is a big contributor to our overall health, especially if you have a history of heart issues. But it can easily fall to the wayside as we age. A fitness tracker such as a Fitbit offers a variety of benefits to those who wear them. You can set goals, connect with friends and family members, and get real-time feedback on your progress.
“Fitness trackers are a great tool for heart health,” says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S. “Being more active and changing your habits is important, but it can be difficult. Tracking likely helps a lot of people when combined with a clear goal to shoot for.”
Consistency is key. And be sure to seek out advice from your doctor as you embark on any new regimens or exercise programs.
Technology has come a long way and can be a great tool to utilize to help your parent or loved one stay heart healthy. Staying connected with others on social media, utilizing apps and wearables, and keeping on top of their diet with grocery and meal delivery are just a few ways to do so.
If your parent or loved one is in need of additional help beyond technology, consider an in-home caregiver to assist. In addition to grocery shopping, meal prep, medication reminders, and assistance with physical activity, a caregiver can provide companionship and socialization – both of which have been shown to be good for health! If you’d like to learn more about how a caregiver can assist you and your parent, check out our service pages, and book a complimentary discovery call to talk with a client service specialist today.