Seniors and technology can go hand in hand, with a little help. Older adults have witnessed such massive technology change over a few short decades that the modern world feels like an epic science fiction story, in which complex gadgetry has the starring role. Seniors often get the unfair reputation of being frozen in time and unwilling to embrace technology, but many older adults simply need help crossing the learning barrier and finding user-friendly devices that help them stay connected.
Seniors Value Productivity, Not Trendiness
Without a doubt, many seniors are slower to embrace technology, but they are using it. A 2013 study by the Pew Research Center reported that 77 percent of adults age 65 and over use cell phones, and 59 percent use the Internet. The research also found that factors such as affluence and higher education levels were linked to tech-savvy seniors, while physical limitations, low income and learning difficulties were common obstacles for many elderly adults.
To overcome their initial intimidation, seniors need reliable, easily accessible resources for navigating digital technology and a clear sense of fulfillment. Unlike millennials who flock to any trendy Internet fad and adopt new textspeak dialogue every year, seniors are drawn to technologies that make their basic lifestyle functions easier.
The Pew study revealed that few tech-savvy seniors rarely own smartphones, but they enthusiastically embrace tablets and e-readers. These latter devices are better designed for productivity, allowing older adults to stay in contact with family through social media, quickly request emergency assistance, read books and documents in large print, and find tools for monitoring finances and health care.
Introducing Seniors to Technology
Research has proven that staying socially engaged contributes to seniors’ physical and mental wellness. Technology holds the key to fostering healthy and active elderly communities, so consider these five to help seniors join the technology revolution.
1)Contact nationwide organizations, such as SeniorNet or Oasis Communications, to find learning centers where seniors can enjoy guided technology lessons at a comfortable pace. Many local colleges also offer technology courses at Lifelong Learning Institutes.
2)Buy tablet apps or video and computer games that help seniors keep their mental cognition skills sharp, such as brain teasers and puzzles. Stick to interfaces that require simple hand movements or an alternative control system for adults with physical limitations.
3)Set up Skype and social media accounts to ensure seniors and relatives have easy ways to share information and nurture relationships, regardless of distance.
4)Provide health tracking tools to improve communication between seniors, doctors, caregivers and relatives. Whether monitoring medication or coordinating medical contacts, seniors regain independence when they have instant access to detailed medical history in one place.
5)Invest in assistive devices, such as wireless home monitoring, GPS accessories and electronic medication dispensers, that increase safety and help seniors receive timely aid in the event of an accident.
Sometimes the learning curve can be overwhelming for seniors that have not had access to technology but with a little help, seniors can quickly get up to speed and embrace all that technology offers.