Loneliness is a real problem among older adults. Increased social isolation and withdrawal from social activities is often a precursor to more serious emotional and physical problems that portend a decline in health. However, physical isolation does not have to lead to a lack of social connections. Senior-friendly technology has evolved so you can share time with loved ones while you are physically apart.
Here are some of the best senior-friendly technology trends to help you stay engaged and active at any age.
Senior-Friendly Hardware to Keep You Connected
The first step in being able to harness the power of technology is to get the right hardware setup for your situation. Keep physical limitations, such as low vision, limited hand dexterity, or hearing loss in mind when making your selections.
There are great senior-specific devices available, but you may find that the intuitive interfaces of modern tech gadgets are user-friendly enough on their own. Beyond a computer, here are some of the best devices to keep you connected with the people you love.
Smartphones: From Facetime to Facebook, smartphones have more features for connecting people than ever before. Of course, you can still use them for making calls and texts, but don’t limit yourself. Upgrading to a new smartphone can be affordable, too, as many providers offer discounts to seniors.
As a side note, as Sixty + Me points out, if seniors are using social media platforms like Facebook there are safety measures to bear in mind. Be cognizant of who you become friends with, familiarize yourself with privacy settings, and avoid sharing private information in broad circles. And anytime you’re using the web, use powerful passwords. Since remembering a lot of alphabet soup-style passwords can get tricky, you can use a password manager to stay on top of them all.
Tablets: Tablets are a great compromise for seniors who would benefit from the larger screen of a computer, but who prefer the app-based familiarity of a phone. Adding a new iPad onto your cellular plan means you don’t have to worry about an internet connection.
An ereader like a Kindle is another great option. Many are low-cost, it can interface with other smart home devices, and if you don’t want to use yours for much beyond reading, surfing and emailing, it should be able to keep up with your needs.
Emergency Alert Devices: When the connection with older family members is partly about keeping them safe when they live alone, consider an emergency alert device or a wearable GPS tracker for seniors. They help you keep an eye on someone without being intrusive. Plus, many let users summon help with the push of a button.
Programs to Help You Share Virtual Moments
The best technology isn’t going to help if you don’t use it. There are so many great platforms for virtual socializing and, while many were developed for business needs, user-friendly features make them suitable for almost anyone. So, if Zoom happy hours or virtual parties aren’t your family’s thing, you can still use the internet to stay connected through flexible activities. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking outside the box:
Share a movie with the Watch Netflix Together web extension
Attend a virtual cooking class
Join an online karaoke party
Log on to AARP’s Connect2Affect program for assessments and service recommendations
Sign up for a virtual exercise class
Book a virtual escape room experience that you can complete together — this is perfect for mystery lovers
Stream religious services or join an interactive bible study class — an excellent choice for older adults who miss a connection with their spiritual community
Play video games; just make sure you have an internet connection that minimizes latency so you can compete comfortably against friends and family
Get back in touch with your loved ones by finding the right hardware for your needs and utilizing available senior-friendly technology, software and online resources. Find virtual activities and programs that you enjoy and then register with a friend or family member to make them more meaningful. Remember, too, that you are not alone and that technology is available to help you stay in touch.
Article by Mary Shannon
Cadbury Commons is dedicated to promoting the well-being of seniors through information, lifestyle enrichment, and health-focused support. Connect today by calling (617) 868-0575 to learn more about our amenities and services and how we can help you or someone you love.