Times have changed drastically with the addition of technology into our everyday lives. The world we live in today is not the same as it was just 20 years ago.Not only are older generations accepting these changes, but they are making technology a part of their day to day activities.It has been reported that approximately 67% of seniors are active web users. This is a major increase from just a few years earlier.
Naturally, these numbers will only rise as the massive generation of baby boomers grow older. There will be both positive and negative effects on the brain.
The internet allows communication between friends and family no matter how great the distance between them is. Many seniors tend to be lonely, the ability to talk to their loved ones virtually any time is one sure way to combat some of that loneliness. This also makes it possible to reunite long lost family members, something that has seemed almost unthinkable until recent times. In years past, people would pass on without having the chance to spend time with those far away.
Another positive effect is older adults can use the internet for research, resulting in increased brain activity. The web is a plethora of information, which they can use to search for anything from historical facts to tracing their ancestry. Social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest are signing up more and more seniors every day. Learning features like live chat, video calls and sharing pictures definitely get the brain working. We want to keep their minds functioning as long as possible.
E-healthis a generic term for health care categories supported by technology and the interweb. It covers anything from connecting users with health care providers online and discussing similar issues with other patients in live chat rooms to doing internet research on medical topics. This is a perfect way for ailing seniors to get comfort and advice from people who understand their situation.
Studies that have focused on the impact of technology on older generations show an increase in confidence among participants. This is wonderful news considering how common it is to start having self-doubt in your abilities at this age. This newfound confidence helps to combat depression and loss of interest.
The Downside to Older Adults Using the Internet
As with pretty much anything in this world, there are some negatives to seniors using the internet. Distraction can be a major issue. This can be true for web users of all ages, but is extremely troublesome for seniors.Technology can become so distracting that it affects the brain’s thinking capability and memory. Of course, mental stimulation is a good thing, but there is a point when it can become stressful. It is important to find a good balance between a healthy amount and a technology overload.
Another downside is seniors don’t necessarily have the training and understanding of trusted online sources. They are the number one age group to be duped by unscrupulous scammers. Criminals know this and prey on their vulnerability, exploiting them for money, financial account info and expensive property. This is a real problem. We should make it a point to educate our elderly loved ones on trusted sites.
As mentioned earlier, many older individuals also turn to the internet to research minor ailments and health conditions. This is another example of when visiting a reliable site is very important. An untrusted website could lead to a possible misdiagnosis causing panic to the reader. Trusted sites that are based on medical evidence regarding treatments and conditions are more likely to end with .org, .gov, or .edu.
Companies are discovering that making technology easier for senior citizens to use can be a very profitable market. Intimidation is the main thing that holds seniors back from jumping onto the digital bandwagon. They feel smart devices are just too complex to learn. They also seem to migrate towards gadgets with bigger screens, such as tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
This has triggered the invention of deviceslike the grandPad, an innovative tablet with its own secure, curated operating system. With this tablet, users simply tap a photo to make a video call or touch a button to send a voice email. Their loved ones download the app on their preferred device to communicate with them. The grandPad was designed without the need for passwords or updates, making it accessible to users at all times.
This has not gone unnoticed among cell phone designers. Models are trickling onto the market that feature larger fonts and buttons. Alcatel and itsJitterbug was one of the first to tap into this market several years back and was very successful. Now, the company has released the Jitterbug Touch, a smartphone designed for seniors. Its big screen and large easy-to-read icons make it just as popular as its predecessor. We are also starting to see more applications that are geared toward the elderly with easier to see and operate formats. Digital heart monitors, medication reminders, magnifying glasses and mind games are all available in app form.
Computer courses are becoming more readily available to help individuals learn computer basics and simple devices. Local senior centers, libraries and the AARP commonly offer these types of classes at little or no cost.
Here to Stay
Whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay. We live in a world that is ever-changing, so to keep up, people of all ages are learning to adapt. This can be especially trying for our older generations. The more we see things geared towards them, the more acclimated they become to learning new things. Wearable medical alerts, mobile devices and computers have changed the way people are spending their golden years. One can only imagine what the future holds for aging adults.
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