It is a myth that seniors are technologically inept. At the age of 87 Edna Carlson created a Facebook account, researched her family tree and now regularly emails her grandchildren to stay in touch.
There is often an assumption that seniors have a resistance to learning new things and embracing technology, but clearly that is not the case. A recent report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of people over 65 are now using social networking sites—three times as many as were posting, tweeting and blogging just four years ago.
There are many benefits for seniors to embrace the internet and social media (and the gadgets that go with them, but that’s another article altogether). Here are six good reasons why seniors should get online:
- Online banking and money management – While it may be an adjustment to not conduct business face to face, there are many benefits to managing money online. It’s flexible; one can view balances, pay bills, transfer funds and even deposit checks 24/7. Seniors may have multiple accounts with multiple institutions including retirement funds and investments, so being able to view and manage all of these from one place (home or anywhere) is a real plus.
- Stay connected to family and friends – People over 65 are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook and people over 50 are joining Match.com faster than any other age group. E-mail, social media and Skype are all ways seniors enjoy staying in contact with family, especially those that are not nearby. Facebook allows people to reconnect with old friends and stay in contact with current ones, especially if mobility and transportation are barriers. These are all good things according to an article from Medicare.com where it was reported that “In the last two years, a number of studies have highlighted how seniors who use technology, especially to communicate with their family members, are more likely to have a higher self esteem and have a lower chance to fall into depression.”
- Research and Learning – Seniors experience many life changing events, from the possibility of downsizing their home or health care concerns, to learning a new hobby or job. Having quick and accurate information at their fingertips is imperative. Some examples where technology may be helpful include locating a realtor, researching senior living facilities and finding the answers to healthcare questions. Many seniors are also interested in continuing to learn, whether that be learning about gardening as a hobby or taking an online class.
- Entertainmnet – Reading the news online is much more of a standard practice especially as print newspapers are becoming a thing of the past. Seniors can also book trips online, purchase tickets to events such as the theater, and play games, either alone or with friends.
- E-Health – E-health can truly help people remain independent and stay in their own homes longer. Some examples of e-health opportunities are having an electronic personal medical record with everything in one place, being able to learn about and participate in online discussions about healthcare concerns, or learning about the different Medicare.
- Shop – Being able to follow favorite stores and products is easy online. Many seniors are on a fixed income so finding out about sales and comparing prices can help save money. In addition, home delivery is much more convenient. Amazon.com has discovered how lucrative the senior market is. Their new store 50+ Active and Healthy Living Store offers items such as vitamins, medical supplies, health and beauty, exercise as well as travel, leisure and entertainment. Not having to drive, carry heavy items and being able to easily re-order prescriptions and medical supplies just makes sense for this age group.