Senior Citizen TechnologyLoneliness can be as damaging to a person's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The American Psychological Association recently found that having stronger and deeper social connections were associated with a 50 percent drop in risk of early mortality.

For older adults, social connection is paramount. According to Harvard's longest study of adult life, people who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy. Feeling lonely can also impact physical and mental health and contribute to cognitive decline, including an increased risk of dementia.  As the aging population in the United States continues to grow, so does the number of adults suffering from loneliness.

Fortunately, solutions are being created to combat the impacts of loneliness. And while technology often gets a bad rap for disconnecting people, it is providing many transformative, low-cost solutions that improve older adults' independence, health and reduce their social isolation.

As the CEO of a tech company focused on improving the lives of older adults, I’ve seen this firsthand. In response to the impact loneliness was seniors across the nation, a new solution has been developed called Belle Rings that organizes regular calls to loved ones and allows family members and caregivers to easily stay connected. The results of this personal project were so powerful that we launched a consumer iOS app that’s now available for free download from the iTunes store.

Based on our experience with the launch and growth of Belle Rings, these are a few major benefits of technology that strengthens connection:

Better health outcomes: loneliness has been linked to weakened immune systems and premature death in older adults. By staying in touch with family and friends, older adults can boost their health. For homebound seniors, phone calls and visits can be a crucial part of connecting with loved ones. One Belle Rings user, Bernice, said, “With everybody living so far away, it lifts my spirits when I get a call.” Her family can tell a difference, too. They notice the excitement in her voice and the joy she has when she talks about her recent calls and conversations.

Increased independence: many seniors often turn to caregivers or assisted living communities for companionship and routine care. However, when older adults are connected to friends and family, the need for outside resources is lessened. This can reduce overall costs and burdens associated with outside care and empower people to remain independent by knowing that they have a circle of care around them.

Reduced depression: when people feel connected, their health and happiness increase. Belle Rings was created to simplify and enhance communication with aging loved ones. We often hear that calls from their friends and family are the highlights of their week. Family members also feel more connected to one another by sharing in the communication process. Whether utilizing an app or social networks like Facebook, these resources can create and strengthen community.

The growing number of tech solutions that are helping older adults live more independent, active and purposeful lives is exciting. It’s time to embrace technology as a partner in aging and reap the benefits it creates.

Armand Lauzon is the founder & CEO of Belle, the parent company of Belle Cares and Belle Rings, two technology companies that serve older adults.