Older adults have not grown up with smartphones and computers, and anything is harder to learn as you age. However, more older people than ever before are utilizing technology. For instance, in 2000, 14% of people 65+ had used the internet, compared to 73% in 2019- and this number is only increasing as more folks learn new technology due to COVID-19.
Technology can provide a plethora of benefits to people aging in place. Some examples include: reduction of social isolation (connecting with friends and family members virtually), increased memory (minds games and fine-motor skills), positive benefits to mental and physical health (from virtual therapy to online fitness classes), and leisure activity modifications (large print reading, auditory books, etc.)
According to the National Council on Aging’s United States of Aging Survey, 84% of seniors believe technology is important to connect with the world around them. However, there are barriers to access including cost and understanding how to operate a device.
If you or a loved one are struggling to understand your technological device, first take a deep breath! Tech is complicated, getting started is the first step. If you are assisting a family member or friend, come into the experience with patience and understanding. Learning something new is never easy, especially if you have never used the device before- it will get easier to navigate. Stick to a few reputable websites that you recognize, especially at first. Be careful about disclosing personal information and if you have questions, ask someone you trust.
Oftentimes, Senior Centers and Departments of Aging will host virtual events specifically for seniors including topics such as technological use, exercise, and socialization. These are a great way to learn new skills while also having fun.
Check out a few local resources:
Baltimore County Department of Aging: Senior Center Information and Activities – Baltimore County (baltimorecountymd.gov)
Baltimore City seniors learn technology through virtual senior center (wmar2news.com)
More Seniors Are Embracing Technology. But Can They Use It? UCSD Researchers Suggest Asking Them. (forbes.com)
How Technology is Changing the Experience of Aging — Philadelphia Gay News (epgn.com)