Modern technology can make it easier for people to live independently longer — and also make life more fulfilling for seniors and their families. Internet and email, for example, make it easier to keep in touch with family and friends. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, as of April 2012 more than half of all seniors surveyed said they regularly use the Web.
Seniors and Technology
A report compiled by the Nielsen Norman Group, however, shows that seniors are 43 percent slower at navigating the Web than younger users. This is why the Senior Planet Exploration Center and other technology institutes for seniors have begun to pop up across the country. Senior Planet opened in January 2013; it teaches those age 60+ to use digital cameras, tablets, computers, and social media. They also offer an extensive online blog with how-to articles and other related entries.
For older adults, Senior Planet and similar schools make technology less daunting. Using technology can seem overly complicated if you don’t have a basic foundation of computer literacy. Another hurdle seniors often face is not being aware of many of the benefits that could come from embracing technology. From online banking to health tracking websites to video calls with grandchildren, there are innumerable ways that today’s technology can enhance daily life. By helping older adults understand the full range of capabilities of their smartphones, tablets, and computers, and offering them basic training, tech schools help any hurdles to technology become less daunting.
Educating the Whole Community
As it turns out, seniors aren’t the only group that could benefit from learning more about today’s technologies. According to a survey from Georgetown’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative and Phillips, the children of aging parents believe technology plays an important role in helping their parents remain independent for a longer period of time. However, they weren’t confident that technologies existed to meet the challenge. For this reason, many senior tech institutes like Senior Planet also help to educate the entire community about the advantages of technology for seniors who want to continue to live on their own.
Senior Planet operates its technology center in New York City, and its website tutorials are available worldwide. If you are interested in a face-to-face class at a school near you, check with your local senior services center. Your area Agency on Aging may also be able to help you find a class.