Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, extending its reach to encompass seniors as well. It has transformed the way we communicate, access information, and perform different tasks. However, seniors often face challenges in adapting to new technologies due to factors such as lack of familiarity, fear of the unknown, and limited exposure.
This blog aims to provide guidance on how to encourage the elderly to learn and embrace modern tech devices.
Seniors Struggling with Technology
Issues with seniors adapting technology are already prevalent in Australia. In discussions with consumer portal Choice AU, National Seniors Australia chief advocate Ian Henshcke and ACCAN CEO Andrew Williams said cost issues affect a senior’s tech prowess, noting that current-spec computers range between $1,000 to $2,000 along with up to $80 for an internet connection every month. Between 20 to 25 per cent of seniors are impoverished in retirement, they added.
Some Choice AU community members lamented that the federal government’s implementation of online portals like myGov and MyAgedCare had something to do with the lack of seniors’ tech awareness. One member claimed that myGov’s website layouts are not easily understandable.
Benefits of Technology for Seniors
Technology can have numerous benefits for seniors, enhancing their overall quality of life and independence. Here are some of the key advantages.
Technology enables seniors to stay connected with family, friends, and the wider community through various digital communication platforms such as video calls, social media, and messaging apps.
Accessing Information and Services
The internet provides seniors with a vast array of information and resources at their fingertips, including health information, online shopping, financial services, and entertainment options.
Promoting Mental Stimulation
Engaging with technology can help seniors exercise their cognitive abilities by playing brain-training games, solving puzzles, or participating in online courses and virtual communities.
Assisting with Daily Living
There are some technology-based tools and applications designed to aid seniors in managing daily tasks, such as medication reminders, home automation systems, and assistive devices.
Empathy and Patience
Introducing technology to seniors requires a compassionate and patient approach. It is significant to consider their fears, concerns, and reservations about technology.
These are some strategies to cultivate empathy and patience:
- Active listening. Initiate open conversations with seniors to understand their apprehensions, misconceptions, and expectations regarding technology. Acknowledge their concerns and address them one by one.
- Empathetic approach. Validate their feelings and experiences related to technology. Assure them that it is normal to feel overwhelmed or uncertain when exploring something new.
- Gradual introduction. Begin with simple and relevant applications or devices that align with their interests or daily needs. Gradually introduce more advanced features or functionalities as they become more comfortable and confident.
Promoting Digital Literacy
Digital literacy plays a crucial role in empowering seniors to effectively use technology. Here are some strategies to foster digital literacy among elderly individuals:
- Basic skills training. Start with foundational skills such as using a mouse, typing, navigating through menus, and understanding common icons. Many community centres, libraries, and senior organisations offer technology training programmes tailored for seniors.
- One-on-one guidance. Offer personalised assistance to seniors by sitting with them, guiding them step-by-step, and answering their questions. This hands-on approach helps build confidence and reduces anxiety.
- Online tutorials and resources. Encourage seniors to explore online tutorials, video guides, and reputable websites that provide step-by-step instructions for using various applications and devices. These resources can be revisited at their own pace.
- Intergenerational learning. Encourage interactions between seniors and younger family members or tech-savvy friends. Younger generations can help seniors understand and navigate technology while fostering stronger family bonds.
Choosing Senior-Friendly Devices and Applications
Selecting the right devices and applications for seniors can significantly impact their comfort level and ease of use.
Opt for devices and applications with intuitive or user-friendly interfaces, large icons, and clear instructions. Touchscreen devices with adjustable font sizes can enhance accessibility for seniors with visual impairments.
Smart assistant speakers such as the Amazon ALEXA may even be easy for seniors to use. The Smart Homes for Seniors research programme by Monash University, Deakin University, and aged-care vendor McLean Care yielded strong results for trial communities in Gunnedah, Tamworth and Inverell, NSW. Some residents who used smart speakers said the machines were a joy to use in terms of interactivity.
Many devices and applications come with accessibility features that cater to the specific needs of seniors, such as text-to-speech, voice recognition, and closed captioning.
Ensure that the devices and applications are secure and have privacy settings to protect seniors from online threats such as scams and identity theft.
Check that the devices and applications are compatible with any existing technology seniors may have, such as smartphones or laptops, to ensure seamless integration.
Creating a Supportive Environment
Technology adoption is a continuous learning process, and seniors may require ongoing support and encouragement. These are some strategies to create a supportive environment:
- Regular check-Ins. Follow up with seniors regularly to gauge their progress, answer any questions, and provide ongoing guidance.
- Celebrate milestones. Celebrate small successes along the way to encourage seniors and reinforce their sense of accomplishment.
- Stay positive. Avoid frustration or impatience if seniors struggle to understand technology. Stay positive and supportive, and be patient as they navigate the learning process.
- Encourage independent learning. Foster independent learning by encouraging seniors to explore technology on their own and find solutions to their problems. This approach helps build confidence and self-sufficiency.
Promoting Digital Connections
Digital inclusion not only benefits seniors but also promotes social connections and engagement. Here are some strategies to promote digital connections among seniors:
Encourage seniors to join social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to connect with family and friends, join interest groups, and access news and information.
Virtual communities and online forums cater to seniors’ specific interests and hobbies and provide opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals.
Many online learning platforms offer courses tailored for seniors, providing opportunities for social interaction and intellectual stimulation.
Video conferencing applications such as Zoom or Skype enable seniors to attend virtual family gatherings, religious services, or community events, fostering a sense of connection and belonging.
The benefits of seniors embracing technology extend beyond convenience and entertainment to promoting mental stimulation, enhancing communication, and promoting social connections. With empathy, patience, and support, we can bridge the digital divide and ensure that seniors have access to the many benefits of technology.
The ASAG Reverse Mortgage
The ASAG Reverse Mortgage offers an attractive choice for elderly homeowners in Australia who wish to tap into the equity in their home. By using a portion of your property’s equity, you can finance your objectives in retirement, and the loan payments can be easily scheduled over a specified timeframe.
To learn more about our equity release options, don’t hesitate to reach out to ASAG at 1300 002 724 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also use the tool provided below to assess the equity in your home.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no relationships with any company mentioned in the article.