Whether we are aging in place professionals talking about our own homes or apartments, those of our clients, or even those who think they don’t need our help right now, the number of products that are available to facilitate our daily lives – from a safety, comfort, convenience, accessibility, and security aspect – has never been greater.
So many things that we use and have available to us today are digital in their nature, such as cell phones, TVs, clocks, appliances, and thermostats. Very few items that we use are analog anymore. This definitely is the digital age.
As people are aging, even with typical aging issues such as weaker eyesight or hearing, or less flexibility and strength in our joints and muscles, we can still tell what time it is or determine and adjust the temperature without trying to read or interpret the hands on a clock or the setting on a thermostat.
It has never been easier for us to control our home environments and what goes one within them. It isn’t just a phenomenon just for seniors or people experiencing physical difficulties. It is true for everyone – even children.
A first-grader may not be able to interpret the setting on a dial-type mercury switched thermostat or be able to understand what time it is on a clock with a face, numbers, and movable hands, they quite possibly can “read” a digital thermostat or digital clock. As long as they have learned to recognize and recall numbers when they see them, and can repeat aloud what they are seeing, a small child can use digital technology. They don’t need to understand what the numbers mean in terms of a specific time or temperature – just that they can recognize the numbers and report them to an adult or, in the case of a thermostat, push the up or down arrow as requested until a different number appears.
In addition to the thermostat and clock, we have digital displays and touch controls on cell phones, microwave ovens, coffee makers, refrigerators with water and ice in the door, dishwashers, washers and dryers, televisions, and more – even many cars.
Except for people who still have a cassette tape recorder or VHS recorder to play prerecorded audio cassettes and videos, or for those who still might have a turntable to play phonograph records, the music that we listen to is digital. Our computers are digital also, as are the movies we watch online.
Regardless of our age – from quite young to very senior – the digital age has impacted all of us. This is one area that has made aging-in-place so successful because we have the ability to monitor and regulate appliances and systems in our homes, as well as entertain ourselves by watching TV, listening to the radio or music channels, and using our telephones.
Aging-in-place is considerably easier, more pleasant, and more effective when we have the types of digital appliances and devices available to us in our homes to use as we do. This compensates for declines or weaknesses in vision, touch, grasp, and other physical attributes that occur through aging and are no longer required to the extent formerly necessary to control our immediate environments.