Is it my imagination or do seniors get more and more tentative about using technology as they get older? I’m pretty sure our kids would agree with that. After all, it seems like kids these days are born tech-savvy. Toddlers know their way around a computer before they get to preschool.
But seniors? If you didn’t grow up using it like the younger generation did, it can be intimidating. But getting comfortable with today’s technology isn’t really so hard – and the benefits are endless.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for seniors is fear. Sounds silly, but the when it’s all so new and foreign, it’s only natural to worry about doing something wrong. The idea that pressing a button on your computer or TiVo might delete everything or change what you wanted to save is a scary prospect. Young people click boxes, press buttons and open tabs with abandon. They’re fearless. But seniors tend to think too much. They’re often afraid to touch anything. Why the difference? Well, for one thing, the younger generation understands one important thing – almost anything can be undone! There are buttons marked Stop, Back, and even Undo for a reason. And they’ll take you back to where you started – when all was good.
Besides computers, there are a lot of other technological gadgets that are a Godsend for seniors. They’ll help you impress the grandkids. And the biggest bonus of all? A lot of gadgets will help you live independently longer. Now isn’t that worth learning some new tricks?
Here are 10 technology tools to make your life easier.
- Computers – Don’t let them scare you! Knowing how to use a computer can expand your world. A word processing program lets you type letters of thank you or complaint. You can organize your recipes. With email you can send notes – and jokes — to the family or old friends. Join Facebook and follow what the grandkid are up to and be the first to see those new baby photos. Find the answer to just about anything you want to know on the Internet. And don’t assume that all games are for kids! You can play Solitaire, Words with Friends (an Internet version of Scrabble), Video Poker, Minesweeper and more.
- Tablets – Tablets do pretty much the same things, but are smaller and portable. You can have all that same online fun while at your local coffee shop, on vacation or relaxing outside.
- E-Readers – If you love reading, you may enjoy doing it even more on an e-Reader. It’s lightweight—a real bonus for those with arthritis. Holding a 500-page hardcover book can be painful! Plus, you can make the font as large as you like for easy reading.
- Lifelines – These come in the form of a bracelet, pendant or clip-on gadget. But all of them work to keep seniors safe. If you fall or need help when you’re too far from the phone, just press your Lifeline button and someone will answer your call and get you the help you need.
- Telephones – Phones have come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell’s day. Landlines are now available with large easy-to-read buttons, backlit keyboards, flashing lights when the phone rings and even closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
- Cell phones – These are smaller, which can be both good and bad. It may be harder to use the small keys but the portability is invaluable. Cell phones help seniors on the go by providing them with safety and security. Car break down? You can call 911 or AAA. Running late for an event or doctor’s appointment? You can (pull over and) call to let someone know you’ll be late. If you have a smart phone, you can even look up directions and phone numbers, or check your email away from home.
- Electronic pill dispensers – Many seniors take quite a few pills – even if some are only vitamins or over-the-counter drugs. But sometimes it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve taken. You don’t want to forget and you definitely don’t want to take a double dose. Programmable pill dispensers work by flashing, talking or sounding an alarm when it’s time for a pill.
- Skype – On your computer, phone or tablet, you can use this program to keep in touch with family and friends. If many miles separate you from the kids or grandkids, Skype – or Facetime – lets you bridge the miles and talk for free. Even better, you can see the person you’re talking to. Kids can show you their missing tooth or their swim trophy. Watch when they open your Christmas presents. Teach them how to make a cherry pie! Video chatting is like you’re right there – when you can’t be.
- GPS – This is an invaluable tool for anyone with some level of dementia – and those that love them. There are several varieties of these on the market these days. From wristbands and clip-on gadgets to Smart phone apps and even shoe inserts, a lost senior can be tracked and found through signals given off by these devices. And car GPS navigation systems are great options for anyone driving to an unfamiliar place.
- Exercise helpers – From Fitbit wristbands that track your every step to Wii video bowling or yoga, technology helps seniors stay fit right in their own homes – and keeps track of both their work and their weight.