Previously, we discussed senior social isolation and the devastating effects it can have for individuals, caregivers, and families. For the elderly who live away from loved ones, it can be even harder to stop isolation and loneliness from happening. Fortunately, technology for seniors makes it easier for families and friends to stay in touch no matter the distance.
Companies know the number of aging seniors who use the internet daily is growing. So to meet this market, developers are adding more senior-friendly interfaces and accessibility features. Also, many workshops offer educational classes for elders looking to learn how to become more technologically literate.
Technology for seniors [i]
For generations who grew up before the internet, technology for seniors may feel daunting. It can be a challenge to learn how to use the internet and utilize all of its benefits.
Despite the learning curve, more seniors are learning how to use technology to stay connected. In a study about elders and internet use, the Pew Research Center found that in 2000, 14% of seniors had the internet at home. By 2017, that number jumped to 67%.
However, the number of tech-savvy seniors varies depending on age. 82% of people between 65 and 69 have internet whereas just 44% over the age of 80 have it.
Interestingly enough, 71% of aging adults with internet access at home use it every day. In 2014, 46% of seniors used the internet to visit social media sites. 53% learn about health concerns or medical care.
Internet cost and accessibility
Some barriers keep seniors from having the internet at home. Primarily, the high price of internet. And for seniors with low or fixed income, it is difficult to justify paying $100 or even $50 for the web.
Thankfully, several programs and services help provide access to affordable technology for seniors. [ii]
FreedomPop is best for seniors who don’t use the internet regularly. Seniors who watch online videos or use the internet every day may find themselves running out of data and facing unexpected fees.
Also, FreedomPop’s service area is mostly limited to the Eastern US. Those living in the Midwest may not be able to access this service or have spotty coverage.
- Free high-speed internet (with a few exceptions) for the home and mobile.
- 500 MB of free data, with $4 per month more for extra data and mobile access.
- 2 GB of data for $20
- 10 GB of data for $75
Spectrum Internet TM Assist
Spectrum works to provide affordable internet access for everyone. To sign up for this service, at least one household member must receive assistance from the National School Lunch Program, the Community Eligibility Provision of the NSLP, or Supplemental Security Income.
As part of their service, Spectrum provides:
- No contract services
- An internet modem
- In-home Wifi for $5 extra per month
- 30 Mbps high-speed internet with no data caps
Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications
Lifeline Support is an FCC program dedicated to making communication services more affordable for low-income households. This company works with participating providers to provide discounts on phone services and broadband internet.
Virtual retirement communities
Perhaps the best parts about technology for seniors is the endless source of free materials for entertainment, education, and activities. But the number of resources available for assistance and support is just as high.
For seniors who maintain an active lifestyle and minimal care, there are many virtual retirement communities they can join. Virtual retirement communities, also called aging in place communities, offer local senior living services to elders. [iii]
These online communities give aging adults access to assisted living services while still living at home. And the affordable annual membership fee goes directly to the volunteer staff who help with services such as [iv]:
- Transportation to the store or doctor and assistance for seniors who need someone to go with them to appointments
- Assemblies and lectures about topics relating to senior health
- Exercise classes
- Helping with pets, such as dog walking, grooming, or vet appointments
- Hosting potlucks and other social events during holidays, birthdays, and special occasions
Tablets and Smartphones [v]
iPads and tablets have made technology for seniors easier than ever to use. Large buttons and user-friendly interfaces are simpler and more straightforward to use than computers.
Plus, tablets can do almost anything a computer can do–from printing photos to writing on a word processor.
Besides that, there are tons of apps and games to stimulate seniors’ minds. And many public libraries offer free downloadable e-book rentals (even magazines) for e-readers.
Ebooks help low or fixed income households have an entire library at their fingertips for next to nothing.
Elders with mobile phones can reach out to loved ones whenever they feel lonely, and vice versa. Phones also offer peace of mind for caregivers since seniors can call for help in case of an emergency.
In 2017, 40% of seniors had a smartphone. 80% of those older than 65 had a standard cellphone. In the future, these statistics will only rise.
So in response, many phone providers offer features that make cell phones more accessible for those who may have trouble hearing or seeing. For example, increased font sizes, magnification, text-to-talk, and speech output, and hearing aid compatibility are all things that make things easier for those who are unfamiliar with new technology.
Apps for Seniors [vi]
As technology for seniors developers, more developers are creating apps tailored to elders’ particular needs.
These apps are free and can help remind elders when to take medications, stay on top of their fluid intake, or other helpful reminders.
- Pill Reminder helps remind seniors to take their medicine and sends an alert to family or caregivers if the dose is skipped or taken late.
- Doctor on Demand is a telemedicine app that puts elders in touch with board-certified psychologists and doctors who can assist with medical advice and live video calls.
- Mimi Hearing Test is useful for administering at-home hearing tests
- VocalEyes AI is perfect for those with weak eyes sight. This app speaks out loud and reads everything on the phone screen.
- Magnifying Glass With Light helps those with vision loss or other eyesight problems.
Apps can also be useful for a variety of other services as well, from transportation to food delivery. For those in a pinch, Uber and Lyft are two apps seniors can use if they need last-minute transportation help.
Also, there are growing numbers of food delivery services that deliver subscription boxes each month for meals and snacks. Food delivery services are useful for ensuring seniors are maintaining a healthy, well-rounded diet without ever going to the store.
Similarly, some grocery chains have apps for online shopping and curbside pickup. This option is ideal for those who may have mobility issues.
Classes and programs
Of course, there are a variety of workshops in the Boston area that focuses on teaching technology for seniors. Furthermore, these classes will help elders get the most out of the internet and their electronic devices.
Boston Public Library is just one of many places that offer classes to empower seniors while teaching them how to comfortably and safely use the internet.
In addition to job searching and resume building to internet safety, many workshops offer services to help seniors feel more comfortable in an increasingly digital world.
Connecting with younger generations
Technology for seniors doesn’t just open communication channels with those in their personal lives, but with others as well.
Shirley Curry is one senior who has embraced technology. Shirley, who runs a popular YouTube gaming channel, greets her viewers every video with “hello, grandkids!” She has developed a large following of fans who reach out to her nearly every day as if she was their grandmother.
Technology for seniors and caregivers
Lastly, the internet makes home care a much easier process for both the caregiver and elder. Likewise, telemedicine makes it much easier for seniors to receive the medical attention they need without leaving their home.
Similarly, caregivers can use apps to provide better comfort for seniors. From appliances, lighting, and even home security, the internet makes it possible to ensure seniors are well-taken care of, even when their caregiver isn’t with them.
Reach out to us!
If you or someone you know needs extra help around the house, MeetCaregivers can help. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-541-1136.
We can help match you with a caregiver who will help you with a variety of needs, from transportation to grocery shopping. Retain your independence, but don’t be afraid to ask for a little help. We are here for you!
For more, check out our Blog. We update every Monday to bring you new information such as in-home care support, additional resources, and senior living.
[i] Technology for Seniors and the Elderly. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2019, from https://www.seniorliving.org/tech/
[ii] Disabled World. (2019, March 17). Cheap Internet for Disabled, Seniors, and Low-Income Americans. Retrieved May 27, 2019, from https://www.disabled-world.com/communication/high-speed-internet.php
[iii] Technology for Seniors and the Elderly. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2019, from https://www.seniorliving.org/tech/
[iv] Virtual Retirement Communities | Online Retirement Villages. (2018, August 16). Retrieved May 27, 2019, from https://www.seniorliving.org/retirement/virtual/
[v] Technology for Seniors and the Elderly. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2019, from https://www.seniorliving.org/tech/