How to Stay in Touch with Technology as a Senior

Last Updated: 22.11.19

 

A good computer for a senior is not a choice to be taken lightly, no matter what anyone says. While older people certainly don’t perform as many tasks as we do on a laptop, they still like to engage in things like emailing, social media, and even making video calls so their new toy needs to be able to help them with that.

 

Why is this important?

For seniors, technology was always a tough gate to break, especially for those living in assisted living facilities. For friends and members of the family who can no longer see them daily, technology can really provide a lot of peace of mind, provided both parts can use it.

Especially when regular visits are tough to schedule in and, let’s be honest, most of us live very busy lives already, an internet-assisted solution is really great to have. However, that involves teaching our older counterparts how to use such gadgets. First of all, let’s see what we are dealing with here by taking a look at a few devices.

 

 

Cell phones

Calling loved ones from far away has always been one of the main ways to keep in touch, and it has only gotten easier with the emergence of cell phones as the primary way of doing pretty much anything in our lives. 

Nowadays, cell phone plans with nationwide minutes make the days when families had to carefully allocate funds for long-distance calls, long-forgotten. However, cells can also be used for other purposes too, not just sentimental well being.

With the high-powered camera phones available nowadays, medical specialists can get detailed images of a patient’s condition pretty much anywhere in the world. While that might not always be enough for a diagnosis, it’s still good enough to get a starting point on what’s going on and possible treatments.

 

Video chatting

Apps like Skype have completely revolutionized the way families stay in touch over long distances, making it easy to make free calls from anywhere in the world with a stable Internet connection.

After getting loved ones set up on such an application, which shouldn’t be that hard even for seniors, they can easily log on and send you a message or video call you anytime they want. Furthermore, this has really taken on a life of its own and medical professionals even use Skype nowadays to arrange virtual meetings with patients who only need to answer a few questions.

 

E-mail

While there’s a bunch of cooler gadgets out there these days, let’s not forget that senior people tend to learn something and stick with it and e-mail is the granddaddy that started all the communication hype. 

While cell phones and video messaging are relatively new and exciting, e-mail is a stable, reliable, and trustworthy way to stay connected to the ones you love on a regular basis.

Furthermore, older people are often more comfortable writing a letter than sending a text message so e-mailing is a familiar, if updated format for them, with the added benefit of being received in seconds, instead of days (we’re looking at you, Postal Service). 

Through an electronic message, seniors can also send and receive pictures and feel more involved in modern life while still retaining some of the normality of their formative years. 

 

 

Telemonitoring

It may just be the case that you are not comfortable leaving your beloved senior at an assisted living facility but he or she still requires a daily dose of monitoring which you cannot always provide since, you know, you also have to work.

Enter telemonitoring, which allows for monitoring devices to be installed with audio reminders to take a look at a person’s vital stats on a regular basis. You can opt to simply keep an eye on your senior while you are away or even have medical technologists receive the information taken by the devices and keep an eye for changes that might spell trouble.

 

Tablets

Desktop computers are starting to be a thing of the past as tablets are taking over, especially when it comes to older people with no previous computer training. They are smaller and have simple interfaces with touch screens and apps that are easy and intuitive to use.

Since many types of tablets allow video conferencing and apps designed for tracking medical information are developed every day, doctors in hospitals and other similar facilities have taken to using iPads at the bedside to gather a patient’s data instead of using paper records.

As these events keep happening, the prices of these gadgets are lowering day by day so if you want to keep an eye on a member of the family, a tablet may just be the thing you were looking for. 

 

Robots (what?)

Actually, yes! Researchers from Purdue University in Indiana, a state otherwise heavily responsible for medical and technical innovations, have been working for quite some time on making a robot that can ‘see’ in the exact way a human can.

Even though the engineer responsible for this still has to solve the robot’s inability to see 3D, they will soon be found in hospitals all over the world assisting surgeons, helping the elderly and providing sight for the blind. 

 

What about social media?

Social media is the main tool that allows seniors to stay in touch with family and old friends with whom they would otherwise be unable to interact. Furthermore, older people usually have a lot of free time on their hands and they fill it up by joining a social media network like Facebook or even Instagram.

You have to take into account the fact that such a platform is visualized differently by younger people and older people. For a person who grew up with this, the intricacies of Facebook or Twitter are something very normal and, as such, that person focuses on whatever needs that platform satisfied for them.

Seniors, however, did not come into this life with everything photographed and immortalized and, as such, take great pride in being able to speak with somebody across the country or across the globe, comment on other people’s posts and photos like they are having a face-to-face conversation, and keeping themselves updated on family matters.

As such, they will always be very happy to use social media to speak to somebody and they will use it in a much more natural way than us, the children of the Internet era. If you want to stay involved with your parents or grandparents across the country, simply hook them up to a provider and watch the miracle unfold.

 

 

Other benefits of technology

So far, we’ve talked about staying connected with family and friends and being closely monitored from a medical standpoint when it comes to the benefits of seniors who know their way around modern technology. However, there are other smaller but no less substantial positive consequences of this.

 

Reminders

We all forget things sometimes and many seniors naturally struggle with memory problems due to their age. Therefore, a reminder or a calendar app on smartphones or tablets can be amazing for somebody who was used to writing everything that needed to be done down on a piece of paper.

Reminders can also help with important, personal events like birthdays, weekly doctor appointments, or even daily medication buzzers. 

 

Mental exercise

As we said, seniors have a lot of free time on their hands and especially people who live alone can easily grow bored. Using technology to learn new things or do brain-stimulating games and activities is one way in which older people (and younger ones too) can keep their minds active and running at full throttle. 

 

Transportation

Even older people who can still drive will sometimes find transportation a daunting task, especially during night-time or when going to a place without accessible parking. For this reason, technology can, again, be of great help through apps like Uber or Lyft that will offer that much-needed ride to various doctor appointments or grocery trips.

While we’ve yet to see a ‘senior citizen car-sharing app’, the ones we’ve mentioned are easy enough to use that even your loved ones can do it or, if you prefer so, you can schedule and pay for their rides yourself without actually being there. 

 

 

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