Seniors and Technology

When we think of senior activities, things like knitting, bingo or singa-longs may come to mind. But the times they are a-changing, and none too soon to enhance the quality of life for this generation of senior citizens.

The fact is, in the last five years, the number of seniors using the Internet has increased by more than 55 percent. Even more interesting, users age 74 and older are the fastest-growing demographic on Facebook. Contrary to stereotypes, computers, social networks, email and even video games are becoming essential parts of older peoples' lives.

This is a bandwagon worth getting on, because learning to use new technologies can have multiple benefits, like reducing depression by 20 percent for the elderly. Getting online enables aging adults to connect with others at a time in life when mobility is limited. Techsavvy seniors can have better relationships with long-distance family and friends through video calls, emails and photo sharing. Plus, activities like checking out the latest news and researching areas of interest keeps the mind active and the individual engaged in life.

Fortunately, technology businesses have recognized this growing opportunity and are providing a nice array of products geared towards the senior market. One of the coolest is the Apple iPad. With its light weight, high-resolution touchpad screen, big keys and ease of use, it's a fabulous tool for both information and entertainment. More and more of our residents are using the iPad for chatting with friends and family, setting up photo albums, watching videos, and exploring the online world.

Many other companies are offering communications' products that feature simple graphics, large type and real names, such as PawPawMail's email service for computer users, Microsoft's Big Screen Live which simplifies its standard interface, a hand-held device called Peek that makes sending and receiving email messages super easy, and a cellphone by Jitterbug that features large, easy-to-read buttons and displays, as well as an operator who will dial calls for you.

Of course, this is just the beginning. As seniors become more comfortable with today's technology, they will set up special interest communities on Facebook, express their opinions on Twitter, play bridge games online with friends across the country, communicate with their doctors on iChat, travel virtually to faraway places, and publish their own photo or family history albums from the comfort of their rocking chairs.

For more information about Highgate Senior Living and all the ways we help our residents stay mentally, physically and socially engaged, please contact the community nearest you.