By freelance writer/contributor Lucy Wyndham
While many millennials are sharing laments on Facebook about ‘the way life used to be’, seniors are sipping on a cup of java at their local café, connecting with friends, playing online games, and even doing their gift shopping on the internet. It can be challenging to learn the ins and out of new devices and technologies when we are older, yet they are making life easier for seniors in many ways, helping them face important setbacks. It is, perhaps, a wake-up call to stop polarizing seniors and tech.
The Role of Social Networking
Getting old in the US is difficult for many people, owing to factors such as the death of one’s spouse, having family that lives in other states, and the loss of close friends. Interestingly, the senior age group is the fastest growing demographic among social media users, owing to the sense of connection that these sites and apps can bring. Research indicates that seniors are particularly interested in chatting and updating their profile page. The average senior surveyed visits Facebook 2.5 times a day, and uses the site for approximately 35 minutes.
The Online Shopping Craze
In addition to facilitating the development of devices and aids that help disabled seniors, technology helps those with limited mobility and modes of transport to obtain vital necessities as well as luxuries. Research shows that around 67% people go online at least once a day, and 51% go online several times a day.
Seniors aren’t just shopping – they are also dating! Around 6% of people aged 55 to 64, and 3% of those aged 65+ use dating sites. Socializing in this way has an important function, since loneliness is linked to poorer health outcomes in seniors. Forbes notes that seniors have more economic power than ever before, which might make them more susceptible to scammers, therefore seniors should actively avoid succumbing to fraud.
A few easy lessons (taken either online or in person) can highlight the importance of clearing devices of sensitive data, using firewalls and antivirus software, and relying on spyware and malware monitoring programs. All these programs should be updated, so seniors should have a trusty technical expert pay them a visit every few months.
Tech and Mental Health
There are many amazing apps that can help fight depression and anxiety, two of the most common conditions affecting seniors and other adults. These include pranayamic breathing, yoga, and meditation apps.
Seniors can take it up a notch by making a small (under $300) investment in headbands such as MUSE, which guides users into focused attention meditation, playing different sounds of weather based on the real-time state of the brain.
Meditation has profound documented benefits, including improving mood, reducing stress and increasing vitality, and with technology such as this, it is much easier to enter a state of mindfulness than ever before.
Looking to the future with positivity and gratefulness is important for America’s seniors. If technology can help them face the obstacles they encounter at this time of life, we should, perhaps, look into new, government-backed ways to inform them of the latest advances and to improve online safety.