So you already know that exercise is one key to good long-term health. It turns out that exercise also can help you be a better driver and hang onto those car keys later in life. That’s according to research conducted by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab.
Exercise improves flexibility, range of motion, and coordination, all which could help seniors drive more safely and maintain driving privileges. Here’s some of what the research uncovered.
Study participants over the age of 50 identified the most challenging physical aspects of driving as:
Turning their head and body to look behind when backing up (41%)
Getting in and out of the car (22%)
Turning their head to see blind spots when changing lanes (19%)
Exercise can ease some of those challenges, and study participants who did specific exercises for 10 weeks saw improvements in their driving. They found it easier to:
Turn their heads to see blind spots when changing lanes or backing up.
Rotate their bodies further so they could scan the driving environment when making right-hand turns.
Get into their cars faster. They also showed increased overall flexibility.
Range of motion exercises can make it easier to put on seatbelts; flexibility exercises help with getting in and out of cars; and coordination exercises can improve drivers’ reaction time. You can do the exercises at home with little or no equipment.
Everyone wants to stay healthy, independent, and active for as long as possible as they age. Though technology isn’t the solution for every aging challenge, wearable technology does have the potential to help seniors achieve some of their independence goals.
The industry has come a long way from the early I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up devices. Technology has the potential to help people age in place, stay safe, and monitor health conditions.
Wearable gadgets range from GPS devices that keep tabs on a senior’s location, fitness and sleep monitors that encourage people of all ages to exercise, and devices that alert caretakers if someone has fallen.
How many hours do you guess you spend a day or a week looking for lost objects? It’s a huge time waster, yes?
Finding lost objects can be easier, thanks to some gadgets that let you attach a small (the size of a quarter or a stamp) tag to objects—keys, laptops, and gym bags, for instance--that you often misplace.
The tag relies on Bluetooth technology and lets you hunt down missing objects by using a phone app. The item usually has to be within a certain range – say 50 to 100 feet – of your smartphone.
Another use is attaching a tag on a dog’s collar. You get a notification if your pet has wandered out of range at a park or has left your yard.
In addition, some of these object-finding devices allow others who are using the technology’s network to help you find lost items. That means that if you left a backpack in the park and it’s out of range of your phone, others’ phones can signal you and give you a heads-up about its location.
As you’re choosing a device, be certain that the system you pick is compatible with your phone.
Design for aging
Here’s a great idea.
An architecture firm that designs retirement campuses sends its designers to spend the night in a senior living setting. They get a sense of what it’s like to live in such an environment and an idea of the challenges that residents face.
By taping fingers together, wearing ear plugs, and fogging up glasses, the participants gain an even deeper understanding of just how physical limitations affect day-to-day life of seniors as well as the dangers and discomfort that poor design can have on residents.