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Seniors and Technlogy
By Nancy Watson, Owner Tech Support for Seniors
Think about all the technological changes that have happened in our lifetime! Heck, most of those changes have come within the last 20 years, a mere blink of an eye in geological time. We’ve gone from being 8-year-olds with a single landline telephone in the middle of our house to having eight year old grandchildren with their own cell phones – some of them nicer than our own!
The Covid-19 pandemic made all of us more aware of the ways that technology can keep us connected, and many people do feel more comfortable using FaceTime and Zoom than they did a couple of years ago. Still, other digital skills don’t come naturally to many of us who didn’t grow up using technology. It can be daunting to try to figure out how to navigate a new app or website – especially when they seem to change all the time!
If you are among the many individuals who have not yet become fully comfortable in the digital world, here are a few reasons to consider stepping out of your comfort zone and taking advantage of some of the many ways that technology can improve your life.
Reason #10: Save time
Let’s say you need to schedule some car maintenance. Do you really want to waste time on hold for the next available representative? So many tasks these days can be accomplished online. From questions about your homeowners’ insurance to checking an item’s in-stock availability, most routine tasks can be accomplished by logging on to the company website’s and locating the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) or Search page.
Reason #9: Track your fitness
Personal devices make it easier than ever to keep track of your health and fitness goals. Smart watches like Fitbits or Apple Watches can monitor your heart rate and pulse. Your smartphone may already be counting your daily steps, and there are apps available to help keep an eye on your caloric or water intake or check the day’s pollen count. You can also contribute to your brain health with games designed to challenge your mind, and to your mental health by using a meditation app or online gratitude journal.
Reason #8: TeleHealth
In addition to health-related apps, TeleMedicine is becoming an increasingly common way to connect with your healthcare professional. When you’re not feeling well, who wants to get dressed to go to a doctor? Using FaceTime or a dedicated TeleHealth app is convenient and another time saver. Most common ailments can be quickly diagnosed over your phone or iPad, and the doctor can send your prescriptions electronically to your preferred pharmacy.
Reason #7: Medical portals
Last one on the “health” front: Accessing your medical information via your healthcare provider’s website or app is becoming the norm for managing doctor appointments, viewing test results, storing immunization records, and seeing recommendations for follow-up visits or referrals. Having all your medical information in one secure location means you won’t have to rely only on your memory to access everything the doctor told you about your medications or when your next appointment is.
Reason #6: Accessibility
If you ever used closed captions on a TV show or movie, you know how much those subtitles can help you understand what is going on. That’s accessibility! But closed captions aren’t the only accessibility feature we have access to these days. The magnifier on your smartphone can help you read the fine print on just about anything. There are digital tools that can read a website aloud if you have low vision or tired eyes – or would just rather hear the text instead of reading it. Speech-to-text apps allow you to dictate with surprising accuracy a message to your friends. For those of you who travel, translation apps can help facilitate a conversation in any language. And with a single tap on our e-reader, you can look up definitions to words we don’t know.
Reason #5: Your public library
Speaking of e-readers, your public library’s e-book collection makes checking books out at any time of the day or night a breeze. And libraries these days offer so much more than just books! With a valid library card, you can also check out music, movies, and magazines without ever leaving home. Using the library’s databases, you can do genealogy research, access legal forms, and so much more – all FREE from any location with Internet access! The friendly librarians at your local library would love to show you how to take advantage of all their library has to offer.
Reason #4: Online banking and bill paying
Let’s face it: very few people write checks at the grocery store – or anywhere else! – anymore. You can use your bank’s app to check your balance, transfer money between accounts, and even deposit checks using your phone’s camera (Another convenience that could go under “Save time” above).
Reason #3: Connection
Technology is where your kids and grandkids are! If you want to stay connected to your younger family members, video chats like FaceTime offer an incredible opportunity to stay connected with a quick check-in or a lengthier conversation. Learning about some of the popular digital tools can be a great conversation starter, too – your grandchildren would probably love to teach you about their favorite apps or show you how they use technology at school. (You’ll be amazed.)
Reason #2: Information is power
The definition of a “digitally literate” adult basically means being able to locate, evaluate, and use information, and to be able to use a variety of digital technologies safely and effectively. By educating yourself about issues like email scams, data security, and how to identify misinformation, you will feel more confident about using digital tools and be better able to be a fully participating member of our increasingly digital society.
Reason #1: Technology is here to stay
Regardless of how you feel about technology, there’s no denying that the line between the “real” world and the digital world continues to blur and fade. Technology is only going to become more ubiquitous, and nobody wants to feel left behind. “Embracing technology” doesn’t mean you’re on your phone every minute of the day. But neither should you avoid technology at all costs. Whether you identify as being among the “tech timid” or the “tech terrific,” you can keep your mind sharp by learning a new technology tip or skill today!
The bottom line
You may think you’re not “technical”, but chances are all you need is some instruction to become more confident online. Technology is not just for the young; in fact, 70% of older adults are now online. Consider taking a class, hiring a tutor or asking your grandchild to help you learn some basic skills.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy Watson has over fifteen years of experience helping “tech timid” adults become more confident end users of technology. She is the “Chief Tech Encourager” at Tech Support for Seniors.