For millions of older Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous changes to their daily lives. From stay-at-home orders to limited contact with their loved ones, one tool that helped them weather the pandemic has been the wealth of modern technology that’s available. In fact, a survey by Ericsson found that nearly 9 in 10 U.S. seniors claim their devices and nternet access helped them during this crisis. From birthday parties on Zoom to telehealth appointments, and online grocery shopping to virtual events, technology has kept older adults connected and engaged.
If you’re among the 10-15% of U.S. older adults who aren’t comfortable with computers, you can catch up. Here are four ways to help you join the digital revolution and achieve your tech goals.
It’s a cliché that older adults get technology tips from their grandchildren, although younger family members can be excellent teachers. But there’s a greater chance you have a friend who can help. After all, according to a 2019 Pew Research study, 85% of Baby Boomers use digital technology, including social media.
Ask your friend to help you enable text-to-speech on your smartphone or laptop. Ask them to show you how to increase font size to improve your ability to read the screen. If you don’t have someone you know who can help you, ask about finding how-to video tutorials or find a class at your local senior center. Medicare offers a list of tech classes specifically designed for older adults.
Pursue your hobby or passion through online content. Whether your musical tastes stretch from Handel’s oratorios to Tony Bennett, streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify offer it. If you’re a film buff, you can rewatch vintage movies with Humphrey Bogart and other stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood on platforms like YouTube or Criterion Channel. Cake recipes, quilt patterns, daily Bible verses, puzzles? You name it. If it exists, you’ll find it on the internet.
Studies have shown online gaming can improve physical coordination and cognitive function in older adults. “Sandbox” games such as Minecraft, in which players build anything they fancy, offer an easy outlet for creativity. To play, all you need is a phone, tablet or computer with internet access. You can focus on fitness by choosing interactive games like Wii Sports (Nintendo console required) and Just Dance, which both offer workouts that can be tailored to your experience and ability level. The gamification of exercise helps everyone embrace better physical fitness, improve balance, coordination and flexibility.
Everyone learns in different ways and at different speeds, so a more structured approach might be the answer. Local senior centers and community colleges often offer technology classes, and there are countless online options, many of which are free. Senior Planet is one well-regarded tutorial service that provides tutorials on using Zoom, YouTube, and social media.
If you’d like to find out more about lifelong learning opportunities or any other aspects of life at The Village at Providence Point, you can attend one of our latest events. To join us, please sign up on our Events page.
The Village of Providence Point is subject to the final approval of the Maryland Department of Aging.