Use of Technology to Improve Older Adults’ Mental Health

Technology To Improve Seniors Mental Health

It may be painful to witness older adults battle memory issues, low mood, anxiety, or a lack of drive, particularly during physical estrangement. With waiting lists for mental health appointments stretching for months, you may be asking for alternatives. 

Talking through stressors with family members or religious leaders may be beneficial. Alternatively, self-care books may offer skills or a fresh viewpoint for older adults who want to hide their troubles. Nevertheless, with the proliferation of wearable technology, telepsychiatry services, social media, and mobile applications for mental health, where does technology come into treatment?

Let’s dive in and explore how technology is transforming mental healthcare for older adults.

Fitness and Mental Health

Physical activity provides several advantages for maintaining brain health as we age, including lowering stress and anxiety levels, easing depressive symptoms, and enhancing memory and learning. 

The setting of physical activity objectives by older adults can be assisted by wearable technology. Older adults may check their calorie burn, step count, and even sleep quality at night with the help of smartwatches, which employ accelerometers to track motions.

The use of wearable technology can benefit caretakers as well. These may be used to keep an eye out for wandering and falls in their loved ones and warn them of mood swings: a dramatic rise or drop in routine activity levels may signal the beginnings of despair or worry.

Can Smartphones Help Older Adults With Their Memory?

According to recent studies, technology can aid older adults with moderate cognitive impairment in carrying out their regular routines while improving prospective memory. Older individuals who get reminders about events and activities through a personal assistant app on their smartphone (a digital voice recorder or reminder app) had memory advantages and enhancements in their daily activities.

Benefits of Technology for Older Adults

Older adults who utilize technology are more aware of current events, better involved in their community, and feel more connected to others. Here are some more advantages of technology for seniors:

Enhancing Social Wellness

We already know the connection between social engagement and your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. You may meet others who have similar interests and pastimes through several online community organizations and message boards. You may offer gardening advice and creative ideas and talk about your favorite books, movies, and television series.

Maintaining Contact with Friends and Family

Social networking has evolved into a fantastic method to remain up to date on the lives of your loved ones, even if more is needed to fully replace face-to-face interactions and spending quality time with your friends and family. 

Video chats, messaging, and social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram keep you connected with loved ones, no matter where they are situated, while friends and families are growing increasingly geographically divided.

Keeping Oneself Safe in Emergencies

Several technical tools can ensure your protection in the event of an emergency. For instance, if you fall in your house alone and need help, you may do so by pressing a button on monitoring equipment or even your phone. With additional technology such as window and door alarms, security systems, and video cameras, you may feel secure and safe at home.

Enhancing Your Physical and Mental Health

Using technology to enhance cognitive and memory abilities is another advantage for elders. Several “brain games” available online can keep elders intellectually active. For instance, logic games like Sudoku and chess need problem-solving and forward-planning abilities, while Tetris and Solitaire improve spatial perception and memory.

The Impact Of Technology On Mental Health Treatments

The older adult’s incapacity to do their job well is one of the biggest signs associated with mental illness. A patient with mild to severe instances may find it much more difficult to perform a typical job due to their anxiety, agitation, and other side effects.

In recent years, technology has been employed to help those with psychiatric illnesses. Due to the advantages of these technologies, some people have recovered from their mental diseases. Healthcare facilities worldwide are starting to use a variety of successful technologies. Go here for additional details about mental health care.

Some of the more intriguing developments are included in this list:

1. Technology for Visual Simulation

Vision Simulation Technology (VST), often known as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, is the first cutting-edge method of mental health therapy (VRET).

VST, or VRET, is a wonderful tool for individuals with agoraphobia, panic disorder, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Together with pertinent visual cues, it can measure heart rate variability and other biometrics.

Because of their high price and cutting-edge technology, most of these systems have undergone controlled testing. One of the most popular tools for mental health today, particularly in treating PTSD, is technology. With this therapy, patients are entirely submerged in a computer-generated world that accurately simulates the horrific event.

How Does It Function?

Older adults must relive their trauma in this digital age and work through their emotional reactions to it. 

While they repeatedly relive this event in the virtual reality (VR) environment, the soldier’s therapist will work with them to monitor their anxiety levels during the session. After completing a full cycle of exposure treatment sessions, patients should eventually be able to recall their experience without being emotionally affected as much.

There are several ways therapists may employ VR exposure therapy right now to assist their patients in healing. Since it enables patients to confront their trauma without physically exposing them to the possible triggers connected to the experience, this approach has been shown to provide greater benefits than standard exposure therapy.

Visual Simulation Technology’s Advantages

Employing virtual reality systems has several advantages for older adults with specific psychiatric illnesses. Among these advantages are the following:

  • It enables total control over the patient’s environment.
  • It offers biofeedback that enables individuals to control their emotions and actions.
  • Patients can experiment with new things without having to go through them firsthand.
  • It allows the patient to resolve problems in a secure setting free from consequences.
  • Exposing the patient to the feared stimuli helps prevent social anxiety disorder and other phobias from developing.
  • It reduces generalized stress levels, which may benefit several brain regions.

2. Neurofeedback

It is a well-liked therapy for autistic kids, but it has also been shown to help grownups with anxiety or some forms of depression. The electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment allows users to view their brainwaves and the results of their thoughts. Patients who get this feedback will learn to restrain their emotions and impulsiveness.

Also, the researchers have concentrated on investigating how ADHD sufferers’ attention spans might be enhanced by neurofeedback. The brainwaves of kids with ADHD are compared using this technology before and after they get neurofeedback therapy.

The Advantages Of Neurofeedback

Advantages of neurofeedback may include teaching patients how to stop panic episodes. Neurofeedback can lessen anxiety and stress by reducing brain waves linked to these conditions.

Neurofeedback may eventually be approved as a therapy for mental health issues; however, this is uncertain. Nonetheless, people searching for novel approaches to deal with their psychological problems could choose to research this method. Last but not least, neurofeedback employs technology to instruct patients on regaining control over their symptoms.

3. Brain stimulation via magnetic fields (TMS)

TMS is a non-invasive treatment for people with anxiety or depression. For people who do not want to cope with the pain associated with other therapies, this operation may be performed without the need of an anesthetic, making it a desirable choice. This procedure typically lasts 20 to 30 minutes and has few side effects, making it a great choice for people needing assistance controlling these issues.

4. What Does It Function?

TMS is predicated on the notion that certain brain regions control other emotions like happiness and sadness, anger and enthusiasm. Magnetic pulses are used in this device to either activate or inhibit certain brain regions by traveling through the skull.

The prefrontal cortex is addressed in the case of depression because depressed people exhibit markedly reduced prefrontal cortical activity. TMS can stimulate this brain region to increase activity and elevate mood. As a patient wakes up following therapy, it will help them feel better.

The Advantages Of TMS Treatment

For people struggling with psychological conditions like depression or anxiety, this therapy provides several advantages. Some of them consist of the following:

  • It is not intrusive.
  • If there are any, they are minor side effects.
  • It is not painful.
  • It reacts quickly.
  • It offers continual comfort.

5. Eye Tracking

This technology makes real-time monitoring of a patient’s eye movements, pupil expansion, and overall eye activity possible. This information may then be used to track trends and changes in the patient’s mental state.

Eye tracking enables therapists to observe patients without verbal dialogue, which is frequently advantageous for those with a social anxiety disorder or other anxieties around other people. Since the patient does not need to wear sensors or trackers, it offers an advantage over comparable technologies. The required information can be obtained by having patients see an image or video while seated in front of a computer.

Eye-Tracking Technology Disadvantage

Whereas eye tracking is a fantastic tool for giving therapists additional information about their patients, it is far from ideal. Various circumstances affect pupil dilation and what it can represent is one of the main objections to eye-tracking equipment. Since many of our actions are automatic, it can be challenging for therapists to pinpoint the particular idea or feeling a patient may be experiencing.

More Recommendations for Older Adults

Although research on the advantages and disadvantages of technology use is ongoing, you can attempt the following:

  • Encourage older persons to test out research-based apps, especially if interested.
  • Make careful to read the privacy statement before using a mobile health app. Make sure the online mental health platform you use complies with HIPAA regulations.
  • Create objectives for your physical exercise because it can assist with practically all mental disease symptoms. Step-counting wearable technology is a smart place to start.
  • Adjust device settings for greater comfort, such as font size and loudness, to account for changes in vision or hearing.

Wrap Up

Many technologies can now be employed to enhance mental health care. Although other alternatives help doctors identify the root of their patients’ problems, some of these options assist patients in utilizing their future habits as an incentive for change.

While many techniques mentioned above for treating mental illness have not yet gained widespread acceptance or use, it will not be long before they do. Many patients welcome this new technology and explore their potential rather than sticking with the same old therapies.