Elderly Users of Technology
Rahul did not realize that very soon his 60-year-old mother would be entering the club of tech-savvy senior citizens. Technology has opened a new window of opportunities and new form of modern communication for senior citizens. They are exploring the all new world of gadgets and gizmos which is fast transforming their lives.
A report by analyst firm Forrester Research says that seniors aged 65 years and above are probably more connected and tech-savvy than the rest of the population in US. The Forrester report also revealed that about 60 per cent of US seniors are online.
As per a report on new technologies by IBM, surveying 3,800 adults from six different countries, 65 per cent of “early adopters” of new technologies were adults aged 55-64 years.
The fact that senior citizens now form another target group has made even tech companies come up with products with an eye on the elderly group.
Companies such as Fujitsu, iBall and Grand Tablet have come up with smartphones and tablets targeting elderly users. Service providers such as AT&T have come up with services and apps targeting grandpas and grandmas.
Rediscovering New Life
The senior citizens’ group has discovered the power of technology to aid them in developing new social contacts and connecting with communities. In today’s fast-paced world, elderly people have reached a stage where they need to rediscover themselves after retirement or social isolation or loneliness.
It so happens that when children move out from their parents’ home and migrate to places in search of new pursuits, parents enter the phase when they spend their lives waiting for the next rendezvous with their children and grandchildren. Most of the time, they are not so keen to move out of their cosy environment for various reasons. This wait only affects their quality of life, their wellbeing and health. These trigger various kinds of illness, including emotional and mental.
Internet and social network enable the older generation to interact with more friends and relatives, participate in the lives of near and dear ones, learn and develop new skills, and share their sorrows and happiness with one and all.
Power of Internet and Wellbeing
Technology and user-friendly gadgets have helped senior citizens unleash a new power buried within them which they themselves did not know until now. At times, parents are not able to move in with their children. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Skype aid in bridging the physical distance between them and their family and friends. E-mails and voice-over internet calls form cheap and quick methods of contacting friends and family globally. Elders can even reconnect and chat with other relatives with whom it’s not easy to do so otherwise.
Thus, technology helps the elderly in staying happier. They look forward to something positive in life and are able to participate in the lives of their children. They also feel wanted. Old-time friends are discovered through social networks, which again create a sense of satisfaction.
Technology seeps in positivity in senior citizens and enables them to steer away from depression and loneliness. With each interaction, that isolation factor gradually diminishes from their lives. They look up to sharing magical moments with their grandchildren. Sharing pictures on Facebook is another method of growing up together. All these enhance their wellbeing and keep them healthy.
Research on Depression
According to a study conducted by Washington DC-based Phoenix Center, depression comes down by 20 per cent for those senior citizens who spend time online.
The study further reveals that spending time online also improves their quality of life and reduces cases of depression.
In another research from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California-Los Angeles, it was found that internet surfing, if done even only for a week, stimulates areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning in middle-aged and older adults with little internet experience.
Other Benefits of getting Wired
The secret word here is ‘communication’, which makes all the difference. Humans are social animals and taking away this basic need from them harms them in one way or the other. At times, even if senior citizens migrate with their children, lack of time on the part of their children again makes them curl back in their own lonely world. They also cannot connect much with neighbours due to cultural differences. This is when internet plays the magic role. It’s not only about making connections, but getting wired is also about learning new skills and art.
Elderly people also explore the culinary world laid out on the internet. Grandmas are stirring up new recipes and sharing them with friends and relatives. They are digging out lip-smacking cuisines of the world and which are being enjoyed by kids of all ages. The ‘clicks’ and ‘likes’ on social network only add to the happiness quotient of their lives.
Connecting with groups that share same interests, hobbies and experience is another advantage of technology. Through internet, the elderly of the society also get to read a plethora of topics. The Google search helps them understand more of the outside world. Just one click and the vast ocean of knowledge and information is all at their fingertips. They get to discuss and debate on a number of topics and issues. This not only makes them aware but also more confident. For them, online shopping is another window that has made the world a global village.
The fact that they are learning a subject of the new generation and then mastering it, instils confidence in senior citizens. This makes them feel satisfied and uplifted. Getting tech-savvy also brings optimism in their lives, improves their quality of life, boosts their morale and gives a new sense of individualism. They are more likely to feel integrated within the society.