Color & Control:

Smartphone Support

Five ways your smartphone can support heatlhy aging

People of all ages have embraced smartphones as an easy and efficient way to communicate. Many older adults are now effortlessly texting and staying in touch via social media as part of their daily routine. But in addition to helping people stay connected, smartphones can also help us to age well.

Problem: Need help managing medications?

Solution: Try text-message reminders.

We’re all human, which means we can all make mistakes or forget to do things. Slip-ups such as forgetting to take medications properly (or at all) are a common problem for many people. Text-message reminders, delivered via a mobile phone, can help ensure medications are taken as directed.

Problem: Need motivation to stay focused?

Solution: Try a health app.

We can all use a little help and encouragement at times! There are many good health ‘apps’ that will send information and reminders to our phones, and research evidence shows this approach can keep us from getting discouraged as we work toward our goals. Try Sodium 101 (App Store only) Cookspiration and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s <30 Days app.

Problem: Need support for chronic conditions?

Solution: Try mobile phone apps and telemedicine

Studies show that mobile phone applications that invite you to input your information (e.g. blood glucose readings, food intake) and receive personalized feedback can help improve blood-sugar levels, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Telemedicine” (the remote diagnosis and treatment of individuals using computers and telecommunications technology) is a time- and cost-effective way to support people recovering from surgical wounds or diabetes-related problems such as foot ulcers, for example. Telephone monitoring and support can also be effective for people recovering from stroke and heart failure.

Problem: Need to connect?

Solution: Talk, laugh and share.

Let’s not forget the original use of a phone, to connect and communicate! Relationships and social connections contribute to a full, balanced and healthy life; conversely, people who are socially isolated are at risk of poor health. Telephones and other communication technologies can help alleviate loneliness and isolation.

Problem: Need to access your health records?

Solution: Electronic health records.

There is growing interest in making personal health records (PHRs) electronically available for those who want secure online access to their medical files in order to take greater responsibility and advocate for their own healthcare. Further research will clarify if and how PHRs impact overall health.

Reprinted with permission from the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal Team.

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