If you are just beginning to learn about technology, understanding the tools available is simpler than ever. Here are some basics to help you begin:
Email is a wonderful way for seniors to keep connections with family, friends, care givers, and medical professionals. The majority of email services are free and easy to use, allowing seniors to receive documents, photos, and other types of media as attachments. Keep privacy and safety in mind by remembering the following information:
• Use a safe password to access your email account. Create a password that is unique and keep a written copy of it somewhere safe.
• Don’t tell everyone your password – when you must share it, do so only with someone you trust, like a very close friend or a family member.
• Be sure to log out of your account whenever you are not accessing your email, particularly if you use publicly shared computers.
• Never download attachments or click on links, and never open mail from someone you don’t know.
• Don’t open or respond to mail in your “Spam” folder.
• Never send your bank account information, social security number, or any private information, including detailed medical records, in an email.
• Keep your virus protection software current and be sure all computer software is up to date.
Facebook is a great tool to allow seniors to connect with family and meet new friends. The site allows users to share photos, stories, and videos and provides a wonderful place for seniors to make new friends with similar interests. It’s important to protect your privacy on social media, so take precautions:
• Consider carefully what you want share and remember who can see it.
• Check your privacy settings: you may choose to show content only to close friends and family, or you may share it publicly so that it may be seen by anyone on Facebook. Make sure you know which option you have chosen.
• If you are asked to authorize games or apps, find out first if those programs share your information or gather information about you.
• Enable email or text message login alerts so that you will know when anyone logs into your account without your permission.
Skype allows users to use a camera and microphone attached to or built into a computer so they may chat with friends and family. Skype is free to all users of Skype, and it’s a great way to stay in touch with those who aren’t able to travel or visit. Skype lets users to send files and photos, screen share, call landline and mobile phones, create video messages, and participate in group videos and chats.
Wireless internet and mobile devices have changed the modern world. For seniors, the benefits are numerous and easy to identify. Medical alert apps and GPS technology give seniors a freedom they have never previously been able to enjoy. Some devices are intended to make it easier for seniors to interact with the internet.
- iPads & Tablets
Tablets are well suited to seniors, providing a portable screen that is larger and easier to read than the average smartphone. Touch screen operation and larger keyboards make it much easier for those with arthritis and other limitations to use them. The battery life of a tablet is often longer than that of a cell phone.
Currently nearly one-third of all Americans use a smartphone. A large proportion of this statistic is comprised of seniors because the phones allow them more freedom. The ability to make new social connections, surf the web and stay in touch with friends and family makes it easy for seniors to avoid isolation and stay active. There are even modern cell phone models designed specifically for those with visual and other impairments.
Health trackers are especially useful to seniors. Wearable health trackers have been proven to help motivate seniors to set health goals and improve their overall well-being. The majority of health trackers are easy to use and can help monitor heart rates for those with exercise restrictions. These devices are constantly being developed and improved. Some take an array of measurements that keep an eye on general health, including calorie counters and sleep monitors.
Technology is a useful tool for any senior. Learn a few basics and you’ll be able to improve your life and maintain your independence. Enjoy technology!