Guest Post Article by: Mary Shannon
Mary reached out to our Detachment to try to spread this message to as many people as possible. This pandemic forced her and her husband, both seniors, who are not particularly tech savvy, to embrace technology. She said that "the process wasn’t exactly easy, but the reward of being able to see our kids and grand kids while quarantined was so worth it. In fact, we plan to continue our weekly calls with faraway friends and family indefinitely!" Here is her article:
Seniors sometimes lack ways to stay in touch with loved ones, especially as most younger generations turn to technology that isn’t as accessible to older adults. In order to improve your relationship with older loved ones, consider how you might help them get senior-friendly technology that makes it easy for them to reach out anytime.
Smartphones for seniors
When smartphones hit the market about a decade ago, our modes of communication transformed. Texting became easier, video chatting became the norm, and our phones morphed into tiny super-computers small enough to fit in our pockets. While younger adults adapt quickly to most new technology, older adults can be left behind, which is why it’s important to look into devices that have been designed to be more senior-friendly.
Smartphones today may seem intuitive to many, but for seniors, there are some disadvantages. The lack of buttons can make navigation tough for shaky hands, and many have icons that are hard to see for aging eyes. If your senior has a smartphone, you can help them tweak some settings that will make it easier.
One of the first things you can do is make the icons larger and easier to see. This is typically found in the settings section on most phones and is easy to adjust. You can also put their most-used apps on their home screen to make them easier to find. In their messaging and calling apps, make a “favorites” list so they can call friends and family easily.
If you’re considering getting your senior a smartphone, Retirement Living recommends checking out some of the phones designed for seniors. These phones often have features that allow for easy calling and quick navigation and are typically lower cost than most smartphones on the market.
Tablets and virtual assistants
While having a phone is important for basic calling and messaging, many seniors enjoy having tablets that allow them to communicate in more ways. Tablets are easier for video chats, playing games, and surfing the web.
Similarly to phones, you can personalize tablets by making icons larger and putting important apps on the home screen. Be sure to install a video chat app that you use and help your senior loved one learn how to use it. Tablets can be better than phones for sending and reading emails, playing games, and searching for information online. You can even add a few apps that are especially useful for seniors.
Along with tablets and phones, HealthTech notes virtual assistants and smart home devices can make it much easier for your senior loved one to communicate with friends and family. Help them set it up so they can call with simple voice commands—they’ll likely appreciate not having to navigate a device each time they want to call family.
Boost their digital security
Unfortunately, it’s common that older adults are more vulnerable to identity theft. It’s important to boost their digital security and help them learn ways to protect their network and devices from hackers.
When you set up their devices, be sure to use unique and hard-to-guess passwords. Along with protecting their online accounts with tricky logins, you should also set up strong passwords on their WiFi router. Routers are often the most important device to protect: if someone gains access to a home’s internet network, all devices and private information could be at stake.
If your senior loved one is a veteran and needs assistance with setting up devices or other needs, consider connecting them with the Marine Corps League.
Helping your senior stay in touch doesn’t have to be difficult: getting them an easy-to-use device will make a big difference. They’ll be able to reach out with a simple voice command if needed, and apps that allow for video chatting will make it feel like they’re not so far away. Just be sure to enhance their digital security so they don’t end up compromising personal information.