Technology has changed the world as we know it. Nearly every industry has been revolutionized by the tech advances of the last 30 years, and yet we haven’t seen the digital world take much of a foothold in the elder-care industry. Many still think that tech is a domain exclusive to the younger generations, and while it can certainly be true that teaching seniors how to use the latest devices and software can be challenging, that doesn’t mean that they should be excluded! In fact, many studies have shown the benefits involved with helping Seniors to integrate into the digital world. The Internet has become an important tool to reduce isolation, loneliness, and other depressive symptoms that we see far too often in our aging loved ones. We are now seeing them becoming proficient in platforms like Skype and Facebook — what’s more, they’re enjoying it!
According to the Pew Research Center Internet use among those 65 and older grew an astounding 150% in just two short years between 2009 and 2011. Seniors are able to not only connect with loved ones but also to take care of practical needs, from visiting government sites, to online banking, even ordering groceries for delivery. For those who have limited mobility or have become homebound, these simple actions represent a vital link to the outside world and allow them to retain a certain level of independence. Seniors have also embraced the ability to connect with others in similar situations. They can discuss health concerns and challenges, giving and receiving support from like minded individuals (and professionals) all from the comfort and privacy of their home. Discussion groups have emerged not just for the elderly, but for their caregivers as well which is an invaluable resource.
It is important that seniors are given the opportunity to learn how to utilize these tools, and it is becoming more and more popular to see computer classes held at senior centers and local libraries. These classes start with the basics, and move on to things like email and social media. Through platforms such as DorotUSA.org, it is even possible for seniors to enroll in online courses and participate in lectures, a truly excellent way to keep them mentally stimulated and engaged. With the links between cognitive health, mental agility and overall physical health being so strong, it’s clear that we must help Seniors to take advantage of these great opportunities.
SeniorNet.org has put together a list of 10 pieces of technology seniors should start embracing — from tablets to Skype to health tracking software.
What about you? What technology have you and the elderly in your life embraced? Any specific applications that have been game-changers? I would love to hear your input!