High-Tech Highway On-Ramps for Seniors

Seniors are often hesitant to use technology, usually because it’s a change from the status quo. After all, when you’ve gotten along without something for your entire life, you don’t really feel the need to learn how to use it when it’s available. Additionally, technology can make many seniors uncomfortable because they’re concerned about security of their personal information and maintaining privacy. However, times are beginning to change, as even the Social Security Administration is transitioning away from paper and to solely Internet-based statements. Seniors will undoubtedly find themselves increasingly using technology in the coming years.

Misperceptions about Technology

One of the major things holding seniors back from using technology is a skewed perception of what technology is or does. When the Internet was first starting to be used, hacking and privacy were legitimate concerns. But now major corporations like banks have very secure websites that seniors shouldn’t be concerned about using.

Seniors may also worry that technology is too complicated for them to figure out. Although there’s a lot of technology that is incredibly complex, there’s also a lot of simple technology that anyone can figure out how to use proficiently in 15 minutes or less. Touch-screen interfaces are becoming more common so typing or using a mouse are no longer issues.

Money is also a concern for many seniors who live on a fixed income. Even when the newest technology has a high price tag, last year’s models are usually quite inexpensive and generally provide all the features and power anyone other than the most technologically involved person needs. The added value from the products seniors are interested in often more than makes up for the price tag.

Gadgets Seniors May Appreciate

There are tons of cool tech gadgets on the market that seniors can use to simplify their lives. These gadgets fall into several categories, including safety and communication. Although seniors don’t necessarily need to have the gadgets, they’ll often end up appreciating them.

Many of the gadgets focused on safety deal with taking medications, which can be a complicated process for people with several medications with different schedules. Electronic pill boxes have audible reminders to take pills and dispensers that make sure the right pills are being taken. Other safety devices include a lifeline system for seniors that has them wear a pendant with a button they can press for medical help and tracking devices to keep track of seniors with dementia who may wander away from home.

Communication is an area that seniors really care about, especially when it comes to keeping in touch with family members. Cell phones with large screens and font sizes make it easy to call and text others. Seniors with memory problems may appreciate a cell phone or landline phone that displays the caller’s name, image and relationship when the phone rings. And of course, many grandparents love using video chatting to keep up with their grandkids. Old-fashioned people who still prefer postal mail can put a sensor in the mailbox that causes a receiver in the home to beep when the mail arrives.

Tips for Seniors to Integrate Technology into Daily Life

  1. Take note of technology peers are using and ask them how it has benefited their life to determine whether it’s worth getting.
  2. Select devices with large screens and simple controls so it’s easy to see how to work them.
  3. Choose one high-tech gadget at a time and fully integrate it into your life before adding another.
  4. Get help from a friend or family member who can adjust the settings on a non-medical gadget and explain how to use it on an ongoing basis.
  5. Ask a physician to explain how a recommended medical tech device works, and get all questions answered before leaving the office.

Many seniors who have started using the latest high-tech devices find that these gadgets really do add value to their lives. After getting over that first hurdle of accepting and learning how to use a tech device, it’s a lot easier to add others as needs arise. Plus, the process of learning something new is a great way to maintain mental flexibility and help ward off memory loss, difficulty focusing and similar issues.