Home computers first entered the market place in 1977 and since 1995, they have become almost a daily necessity for many Americans. How many of us can say we go a day without a computer? Not many. But our generation is the first.
In the US, approximately 40.3 million people are considered “senior citizens” (aged 65 and older) and in 2012, it was reported that 53% of them use the Internet*. While this is great, up from only 14% in 2000, many still find the age of technology daunting and do not know how to use the computer or Internet. But the benefits of bridging this technology gap are extraordinary.
Staying in Touch.
For many in the elderly population, growing older means living a life of isolation. The death of a spouse, and perhaps children who have moved away, a lack of mobility hindering them from socializing with friends… whatever the reason, the Internet can help re-establish lost connections and close the gap of loneliness often felt by the elderly.
For those who may be unable to drive easily, the Internet enables them to shop for groceries, order prescriptions, or simply buy gifts for their family at the click of a button.
The old adage is true: You’re never too old to learn. With a world of information at your fingertips, the Internet is a great resource for the elderly who want to keep their minds stimulated and active. Whether learning new recipes or researching submarine history, there’s something for everyone, including online classes!
Everyone loves the popular movie sites such as Netflix or Amazon Video. For senior citizens, they can enjoy programs that aren’t regularly shown on TV or classic films that they may have enjoyed in their youth. If they are lifelong readers with vision problems, they may love the ability to download audio books to listen to without tiring out their eyes.
Quality of Life.
All of this can add up to a greater quality of life for the elderly, especially those who are impacted by depression and could benefit from the stimulation of online conversations. Being able to navigate the Internet can establish a sense of empowerment that may benefit other areas of life.
My grandfather-in-law is a great example of an elderly person using the Internet. With a large and active family, he is able to use Facebook to stay connected to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Though many members of the family live close by, he’s able to see pictures of his loved ones and hear family news quickly. In addition to the social aspect, Grandpa Heidel has always enjoyed the stock market and is able to track his stocks throughout the day. And when he is looking for a new Sudoku puzzle, it’s just a click away. An avid bird enthusiast, he has used the Internet to research different species he identified on hiking trips with a friend years earlier. He’s far from the oldest person using the Internet, but when he celebrates his 100th birthday this month, undoubtedly, he will have his Facebook wall covered with birthday greetings from the family and friends he has “friended.”
Nope. You are never too old to be online.
This article was inspired by a heart-warming documentary called “Cyber Seniors.” Learn more about how to bridge the gap between the generations and technology on CyberSeniorsDocumentary.com.