13 Technology Tips for Senior Citizens To Promote Confidence, Connection, and Safety in a Digital World
You’ve got a call coming in on your television.
Neighbors keep talking about their new “doorbell security systems” and you’d love to feel safer in your home, but it just doesn’t feel safe to use.
Or maybe you’re constantly texting your elderly parents wondering why they can’t figure out how to text you back.
Technology is ever-changing, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. How can seniors keep pace with these changes and ensure they’re using technology safely? Dive into this guide where we cover some of the best technology tips for seniors.
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The Often-Complicated Relationship Between Seniors and Technology
Many seniors struggle with the idea of new technology — let alone trying to learn it. A recent study found that seniors tend to only try to use technology if they feel it adds value to their life.
Whether that’s because they feel that certain technologies are too difficult to learn, or they are worried that it is unsafe, if it doesn’t seem like it would add value to their lives, they tend to steer clear.
Why Seniors Should Confidently Embrace Technology
Technology can be intimidating, even scary, for many seniors, especially as it continues to evolve. But this evolving technology can add immense value to your (or your loved one’s) life.
If you’re trying to convince a loved one (or yourself) that technology should be embraced, even as we age, consider the following benefits:
- Technology promotes connection and communication with loved ones.
- It enhances social engagement — seniors can feel less alone or isolated when they have access to social media, games, online groups, etc. at the touch of a button.
- It encourages participating in their favorite hobbies — seniors can easily access tips, tricks, and new ways to enjoy their hobbies.
- Using new technology provides mental stimulation — both learning to use new technology and using technology to read, play games, etc. can challenge the brain.
How Can We Help the Elderly Use Technology?
Some of the simplest ways you can help the elderly use technology include:
- Addressing any safety concerns and teaching them how to use it safely
- Helping them thoroughly understand how to use their devices
- Show seniors how to use technology in a way that enhances their life
- Provide them with free resources to learn more about the technology they’re using
- Adapt devices to meet the needs of the senior
4 Technology Tips for Seniors To Promote Learning and Confidence
#1: Find a Patient Teacher
Not having support when learning how to use new technology is enough to scare any first-timers away. If you (or a loved one) are trying to learn new technology, one of the best things you can do is find a patient teacher who is willing to go over things as many times as necessary.
Consider asking a relative, like a grandchild, or even a neighbor. If you’re not comfortable asking someone close to you, consider visiting your nearest community college — they may provide free, or low-cost, classes to help seniors learn the basics about certain devices.
#2: Make the Text Larger
Do you find that you (or your senior loved one) constantly ignore devices? Then, when you ask why, you find out it’s because they don’t want to use it — after all, the screen or the text is too small to read.
Thankfully, most devices have accessibility features that make the text larger, clearer, and easier to read.
If you are a senior trying to navigate how to increase the text size, consider asking a loved one, or contacting the company that makes the device for guidance.
If you have a device that has voice assistance, like Siri on Apple products, you may even be able to say something like “Take me to my settings to change my text size.”
#3: ‘Google It’
Struggling to figure out how to adjust certain settings on your phone? Maybe you can’t figure out how to download certain apps. Worried that some of the information you’ve received is accurate or if it’s a scam? Or maybe you get frustrated every time you try to get your music to play.
Thankfully, there are dozens of instructional videos and tutorials available online. Google is a great tool to get almost any information you could need — even when trying to improve your technology skills.
#4: Find Accessible Devices
Technology can work in everyone’s favor. Although many people think of new technology as touch screen phones, tablets, laptops, and even security systems, technology goes beyond those devices.
Let’s look at some examples:
Technology can provide seniors with a way to continue doing the things they love, like reading books without having to worry about flipping pages, lifting heavy books, etc.
Or, if a senior is hard of hearing, consider purchasing a captioned telephone. This way, seniors can communicate with their loved ones via phone without the frustration of being unable to hear.
5 Technology Tips for Seniors To Ensure Safety
#1: Protect Passwords and Personal Information
One of the biggest technology tips for seniors to follow involves protecting passwords and personal information. When deciding on a password remember to avoid using keyboard patterns like 12345 or ABCDE.
Instead, shake up your passwords by using a combination of:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
Avoid using old passwords for new accounts whenever possible.
Never provide your password, credit card numbers, bank account information, or any other personal information when asked in an email or website you’re unfamiliar with.
Always take care to know exactly where any requests for personal information are coming from.
#2: Manage Contacts
Screening calls and managing your contacts has never been easier. Seniors can ask loved ones to help them add contacts, email accounts, and any necessary information to contact friends and family to their devices.
Then, when your senior gets a call or message from an unassigned contact they know not to answer or to avoid providing any personal information. Seniors can add in numbers of their healthcare providers and other service providers they use — this helps seniors avoid scams.
Loved ones can also help seniors set up their voicemail so that if any numbers are unrecognizable, they can send the call to voicemail.
#3: Avoid Scams
In 2020 alone, 2,000 seniors lost over $100,000 each to scammers. To avoid being a victim of these scams, it’s important to note the following:
If something is too good to be true, it likely is.
For example, any email or website claiming you won luxurious prizes or inviting you to enter a “free” giveaway in exchange for your personal information, is likely a scam.
Don’t remember entering a contest? Don’t respond to phone calls, emails, or text messages about special offers or prizes.
Scammers may also try to steal online information from seniors via email. These emails generally look like they are from credible websites — banking, shopping, etc. — to trick seniors into providing them with personal information.
Never provide personal information to someone you don’t know. If you’re unsure if you are being scammed, reach out to a loved one, the company from which the scammer is claiming to be, and ignore the scammer.
#4: Keep Anti-Virus Software Updated
Always keep your devices updated. iOS (on Apple products) software updates, for example, happen frequently. Ensure that when these updates become available your device automatically updates them.
Ensure that you are keeping any anti-virus software on your devices updated. Some of these services are free, while others require a subscription — if your service is not free, are you up to date on your payment? This may be vital to keep your devices safe and your subscription active.
#5: Be Careful on Social Media
Social media is a very new thing for many seniors. While it’s a fantastic way to connect with family and friends, it can also make it easier for scammers to gain access to personal information.
Seniors must know what not to post on their accounts. Avoid posting vacation dates, phone numbers, addresses, pictures of their property, etc.
Remember to never respond to messages from unknown people, even if they claim it’s an emergency. While it may feel like you must react, remain calm, and remember, real emergencies will never be addressed or brought to you via social media.
4 Technology Tips for Seniors To Encourage Connection With the World
#1: Try Various Communication Methods
Gone are the days of having to talk on the phone or email friends or family. Now, seniors can use various methods to connect with their loved ones.
If you’re not a big talker, consider purchasing a device like a tablet or a phone that allows you to text your loved ones. Some devices even provide free messaging when connected to Wi-Fi.
Maybe you wish you could see your loved ones more but aren’t able to visit as frequently as you’d like. Video chat devices are a great way to stay connected without having to leave the comfort of your home.
Some of these devices connect directly to your television, while others are more portable devices that you can connect from anywhere that has internet or cell service.
#2: Try E-Readers
Books can really weigh you down — and they’re becoming more and more expensive.
If you’re someone who loves to read but doesn’t have the space, or the money, to continue buying books, consider using an e-reader.
Many e-readers offer free, or low-cost, books — which make them a great option for those who don’t take more than a few days to get through a good story.
#3: Try Photo-Sharing Apps
Staying connected doesn’t have to just involve talking with your loved ones regularly. Photo-sharing apps allow seniors to stay connected and up to date on what’s happening in others’ lives.
These photo-sharing apps come on all sorts of devices, even frames that friends and family can send photos to regularly.
#4: Try Smart Devices
Concerned about your safety or health? Smart devices are a great tool to feel safer, even in your own home.
Seniors living alone may grow fond of Ring doorbells — doorbells that connect directly to your internet to send you alerts and communication when someone passes your door. These services may also send alerts about happenings in your area.
Wearable fitness devices can be a great tool to monitor your health, even as a senior. Many smart devices can monitor your heart rate, how you’re sleeping, your pulse, and more — making it easier for seniors to stay on top of their health.
Senior Services of America: Communities Committed to Helping Seniors Stay Connected
The staff at Seniors Services of America communities understand how frustrating technology can be for seniors — which is why we’re here to help you adapt and stay connected.
We’re constantly adapting to new and ever-changing technology so that we can help our residents continue to live as independently as possible while avoiding feelings of isolation.
Our senior living communities are committed to keeping seniors connected and enjoying their years of retirement. If you’re ready to make the move to a senior living community that keeps seniors connected, we’re happy to have you.