Article written by: Ruby Clarkson
Modern technology like the Internet and smartphones offer a great connectivity tool, but many elderly people feel uncomfortable using these resources. Fortunately, you can help build a bridge between modern technology and their personal interests by showing them how to use these tools to improve their lives. Learning to embrace technology can have a big impact on seniors level of socialisation, knowledge, and even their physical and mental health. Here are some of the top ways that modern technology can benefit seniors.
Staying in touch
According to care provider Helping Hands, as people age it becomes increasingly important to be able to openly communicate with them and stay connected. Technology offers a great platform for connection across families. Studies have found that across all generations, the computer is seen as helping family communication. Though spending quality face time together is important, connecting online through social media and tools like Skype is a great option for families to stay in touch when they are separated by geography or unconventional family structures. Having this regular interaction has also been shown to effectively treat conditions such as senior depression.
Bonding through learning
Modern technology also offers seniors a way to bond with their families, share information, and learn from each other. One study found that more than 75% of elderly people learn about technology from their grandchildren. Families can form stronger bonds by exploring the internet and learning about new technology together. What’s more, online learning opportunities for the elderly are becoming more and more popular, making it possible for students of any age to develop a new skill, and receive tuition from accredited educational institutions all around the world - plus many of these courses are free for pensioners!
Digital health resources like online patient portals and tracking apps, can be extremely beneficial to elderly people - but only if they know how to use them. To help seniors overcome any issues with accessing and using this technology, it’s best to explain to them what the practical benefits are of things like contacting their GP online and turning to smartphone apps to manage their medical conditions. Technology and smartphone Apps can also be used for medication management and to help prevent missed medication and medication errors.
Advancements in technology mean that more elderly people are able to stay living safely in their own homes for longer. Any senior who lives alone should have a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), which allows the wearer to call for help with the simple push of a button. You and your family can have peace of mind knowing the PERS can facilitate a call for help in any emergency situation. GPS tracking devices can also be used to monitor a senior’s location, making them a great tool for people who suffer from dementia including Alzheimer's.
How to introduce technology to your grandparents
Now you know the benefits, here are some tips on the best ways to introduce modern technology to your grandparents:
● Keep it simple - Remember that computers and technology can be overwhelming for those without a lot of technological exposure, so keep things simple - there’s no need to explain how an internet router works!
● Find elderly-friendly technology - Look for technology that is geared towards seniors - touchscreen tablets are a good example because they are larger than smartphones, yet they don’t require as much navigational know-how as a standard laptop or desktop.
● Stay calm - You should never lose patience or become frustrated when teaching seniors how to use technology. Remember that they didn’t grow up on hashtags and messengers, so it might take them a little longer to understand how things work.
● Keep them interested - Everyone learns best when their personal interests are engaged. Therefore, if you want to get elderly people to embrace modern technology, it’s a good idea to show them how it links in with their favorite activities. For example, online games like Bingo could be of interest.
● Explain the importance of privacy - Although you won’t want to intimidate them into not using the internet or their smartphone, it’s important to make seniors aware of cyber security threats. Help them stay safe when using modern technology by explaining the importance of using secure sites, and choosing quality passwords that will keep hackers out.
● Enroll them in local classes - Many communities offer free or low-cost computer classes for the elderly, which will enable your grandparents to learn with their peers. The classes will be taught at a pace that the majority of older adults can keep up with.