Generally, seniors have been a bit slower to adopt new technology compared to those of us in younger generations. We may not expect our parents or grandparents to seek out the newest smartphone upon its release, adopt a new streaming service or invest in smart home devices.
In recent years, though, this trend has been shifting; senior citizens today are starting to incorporate technology into their lifestyles at larger rates. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of seniors now own smartphones – more than double the amount that did only five years ago. Nearly three-quarters of seniors report going online frequently, too. Even so, when using new technology, the majority of seniors surveyed admitted to feeling largely unfamiliar with it and relying on others to learn how it’s used.
Considering the highly digital world we live in, it’s important to help your senior-aged family members feel confident and empowered when it comes to using new devices. Here are a few tips to help encourage your loved ones to embrace a variety of different tools.
Appeal to their existing interests
Consider the types of activities your parent or family member already enjoys doing. Are they social and community-minded? Do they prioritize staying connected with friends, grandchildren and other family members? Gauge their interest in joining social media networks like Facebook and Instagram to do so. Social media may not be appealing to your family member, but ensure they know how to use it if they are, in fact, curious. Also, keep in mind that many seniors on the younger side are likely well-acquainted and savvy with social media already.
If your loved one is an avid reader, ask if they’re familiar with e-readers and apps like Audible. Perhaps they are a movie buff but can’t easily make it to the theater anymore. If so, ensure they have access to streaming services like Amazon and Netflix. Is the family member a news and politics enthusiast? They might enjoy staying up to date with a news app, online versions of newspapers, podcasts or even Twitter. For more elderly seniors, roadblocks such as declining vision and limited mobility and access to transportation can affect their former interests and routines. The good news is that technology can help them maintain their hobbies in a new, more accessible format.
Keep it simple
Elaborate new devices can be tough for the average person of any age to navigate. Plus, most seniors haven’t had as many years of technology exposure as those in younger generations have. Things that are second nature to you may be confusing and intimidating to your parent or grandparent. It’s important to be patient and to avoid making assumptions about their baseline knowledge of a certain product or method of use. To make the process
easier on both of you, start with easy-to-use, intuitive devices. Help them choose a phone, tablet, computer or e-reader that is simple in design.
Additionally, consider the fact that many seniors have gone decades without using such tools and survived just fine. This alone could make them hesitant to take the plunge towards new digital habits. Try to find common ground. Does your family member enjoy taking photos, organizing them into albums and preserving their memories? Scanners like our Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 and iX1500 are compact, user-friendly and easy to navigate for the whole family. Help them scan aged photos to save a high-quality version and preserve them from wear and tear, getting misplaced or lost. Show them how to make digital albums and slideshows or share photos with friends. They can also use the scanners to digitize receipts, tax forms and other papers to stay better organized and reduce clutter.
Encourage tech that helps make life safer and easier
As our elderly loved ones age, their level of independence can often start to dwindle. This can be frustrating, causing them to feel less autonomous and more dependent on their families for everyday needs such as grocery shopping or traveling to the doctor. Luckily, embracing technology can allow seniors to maintain more independence, too. Discuss ridesharing solutions such as Uber and Lyft if these are available in your area. Help them download the app and walk through the process of ordering a ride together.
Are they already comfortable with shopping online? Perhaps they would benefit from grocery delivery from their local market, if offered, or setting up an ongoing subscription order for basic necessities. Many pharmacies also offer online ordering and delivery options, as well, which could make prescription refills a whole lot easier, too.
Adopting new digital habits may not happen overnight or all at once, but empowering your family member to feel capable using any new device, app or process is a step in the right direction. Are your elderly loved ones open to trying new technology? How do you usually help them adapt to new devices?