Kaizen is a Japanese term—Kai is “change” and Zen is “good”. It’s improvement through small incremental changes over a long period of time. Kaizen should come after observation of the process and consideration of the audience. For those of us with aging parents, kaizen can be a huge help to them—observation of how they do things and suggesting small changes to make things easier. My mother lives in a centrally-located apartment, and here are a few changes we’ve helped her make (we=the 3 daughters):

We all have iPhones and each of us activated Share Location through the ‘Find My’ function in iOS. We can see my mom’s location, and she can see our’s.

She had a medical event over a year ago, and there were concerns about her living alone. Comparing the features of an Apple Watch with a Life Alert device, she eventually agreed to try the Apple Watch after doing her own research. I also assured her I could sell it on eBay if she decided she didn’t like it. It seems like the Life Alert type of device carries a connotation of “you’re old” similar to a cane. The Apple Watch is perceived as steezy (style with ease). She purchased the non-cellular Watch ($399) since she already has an iPhone. I configured her watch with fall detection, a detailed Medical ID, and setup her emergency contacts. I showed her how it can perform an ECG and monitors her heart rate.

Many of us develop arthritis as we get older, and the Milanese Loop band was the easiest for her to get on/off. She selected the information for her default watch face: date, time, outdoor temperature, battery, and heart rate. I deleted the extra watch faces that she won’t use because she accidentally switched it a few times.

I purchased a charging station ($13) with a stand for both devices after I noticed she had them charging in various places. I placed it next to the couch where it’s within reach, and it tilts so she can see when it’s finished charging.

But wait, there’s more! Apple Watch users can share fitness activity with each other. I began sharing my activity with my mom so she can see my steps per day and now I can see her’s as well. If I happen to check activity rings at 2:00 PM and there are no steps recorded, I can call to verify all is well (either she’s not wearing the watch or there’s a problem). It’s another way to utilize the functionality of the Apple Watch without an ongoing fee.

When I was reevaluating my own budgeting process, I asked her how she managed her monthly budget. I realized she was re-writing a lot of the same information month-to-month. I found a nicely formatted monthly budget form on Etsy, personalized it for her, and printed several copies on card-stock. On the reverse side, I added lines so she could make notes and list the expenses she wanted to track. This saved her from writing everything out each month and kept everything on one nicely formatted document. It can also serve as a checklist on what items remain to be paid/received. (I highly recommend the book The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.)

New technology can be overwhelming to seniors, but Apple’s devices are intuitive and fairly easy to learn. For me, successful kaizen means small tweaks to a process over a long period of time and adding new technology where it makes sense.