Although technology is now making all sorts of advances, especially when it comes to such everyday devices as smartphones and wearable devices, has made our lives much easier, many seniors find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the rapid rate of change. Consequently, they get easily confused when presented with the variety of applications and features available.
Keeping up with an ever-changing technology is difficult for all of us, but the older we get, the slower our minds and bodies appear to move. Within this context, then, keeping up with the latest device or the newest app, can be a little overwhelming. However, since our social structure itself has changed, with fewer large, extended families and more seniors living alone or in a retirement community, innovative solutions are necessary to help seniors to use technology. In other words, the use of smartphones and computers are often essential for managing our modern lives.
When it comes to technology, many seniors are limited by biological issues related to aging such as change in their visual, auditory, and motor functions; by decreased memory, focus, and thinking making it difficult to keep up with rapid changes; and by unfamiliarity with technological devices, leading to the erroneous assumptions, such as hitting the wrong button in an app could cause the program to malfunction or the device’s operating system to crash. Naturally, these three issues are not true for all seniors; particularly active seniors who once had careers in technology, like engineers and scientists. Like the younger generation, they enjoy deploying Skype, sending out emails, and using a GPS app to find their way around town.
With that in mind, here are a few ways that many innovative tech companies have made it easier for seniors to learn how to use some of the latest technology:
The Jitterbug smartphone has been designed with seniors in mind. It has been designed to be simple to use, with large buttons and an enhanced speaker makes it easy to see and hear. In addition, it has been priced to be affordable, starting for as low as about $15 a month, with no long-term contracts and easy cancellation policies. This smartphone, with its brightly colored screen and easy-to-identify buttons and easy-to-navigate contact list, makes it undemanding for seniors to make calls, including emergency calls, and send text messages or emails.
Scott Lien created the GrandPad Senior Tablet after his mother’s hearing loss made it difficult for her to talk on a regular phone and frustrating to navigate on Skype. “It’s just a Nexus 7 tablet at its core, but it runs a customized version of Android that’s designed specifically for older users, explains technologist John Brandon from Techhive, “A wireless charging stand, a cover, and a stylus are included in the package. 4G connectivity (Verizon LTE) is also included, eliminating the need for the end user to have a router, broadband Internet access, and the skills to install and maintain the same…”
Across the country, classes for seniors who are intimidated by technology are springing up. For example, according to a New York Times article, Marian Goldberg, 70, became comfortable with the online world after she attended the Senior Planet Exploration Center in Manhattan, and now regularly uses social media and other online tools.
Video Brain Games:
A large variety of brain games are now being made for seniors to enhance cognitive skills like focus, memory, and problem-solving. Although critics of these brain games say that their value has been exaggerated and that they only provide a limited range of cognitive improvements, many other researchers contend that users had experienced long-term cognitive benefits. An NBC News article on the efficacy of these video games interviewed Dr. Adam Gazzaley, who has a medical degree in neurology, as well as a doctorate in neuroscience. He believes that the core of the research rested on scientific validation that the brain remained plastic throughout a person’s life, making it possible for users to benefit from video brain games. Science journalist Dan Hurley also said that there was a growing body of evidence to suggest that brain improvement from doing better at brain games affected other areas of life.
In the final analysis, the use of telecommunication devices is a wonderful way for seniors to connect and find important resources. In response to this need, there is now a growing number of options for seniors when it comes to using technology.