One of the biggest reasons why it’s important to embrace technology is because it’s literally everywhere.
Smartphones, tablets, social media, laptops, and banking machines. The technological advances in the Information Age have made mastering digital technology a key component of fully participating in society.
To be sure, some seniors express a lack of interest in technology. For others there is an underlying misunderstanding about technology and a lack of ability. Yet gaining key digital skills can help older adults feel a part of this modern world by helping them join the conversation.
Shrinking the Digital Divide
Prior to 2016, Canadian seniors were less likely than non-seniors to be Internet users. In recent years, the gap between these groups has decreased substantially, though. In ever greater numbers, the Silent Generation is finding their digital voice.
The pandemic played a role in narrowing this digital divide as seniors turned to online activities in droves, making the internet the new normal for many older adults. Given the uncertainty of when and how the pandemic will end , this expanded tech literacy is a skill that will stay with them long after lockdowns lift.
Despite these numbers, a survey from AARP, conducted in September and October, highlighted a quandary – seniors can be easily overwhelmed by technology. More than half (54 percent) said they needed a better grasp of the devices they had acquired. Nearly 4 in 10 (37 percent) admitted they weren’t confident about using the technologies.
Digital Literacy Training for Seniors
The world wide web – one of the ways people can access the information stored on the internet – is 32 years old. Given that this is still relatively new, it can seem like a daunting place for some seniors. Nevertheless, an understanding of the internet can make a big difference to modern life.
With an internet connection you can:
- Stay in touch with friends and family
- Use email
- Research products and services
- Access health records
- Manage finances
- Keep track of medications
- Play games
- Watch movies and TV
- Listen to music
- Shop online
- Build your retirement vision
One bonus of being connect is the free resources: from lessons for the novice to free YouTube tutorials about the latest app, it’s never been easier to brush up on your online skills. Within no time, the not-so-savvy senior learner will be able to independently make the most out of their smart devices.
There are two stand out organizations in Canada that offer free technology training to elderly learners:
- Connected Canadians is a non-profit organization that promotes digital literacy skills amongst older adults by providing free technology training and support.
- For more immediate help using your device, check out these free, user friendly, on-line tutorials provided by Generations Online.
Staying Safe in a Digital World
Some older people have concerns about the security of the internet. While it is definitely wise to keep security in mind, this shouldn’t be a barrier to the worldwide web!
Having said that, scams can happen online, just like they do in real life. Online scams can be emails or other messages asking for bank or credit card information, passwords and personal information, or money. Scam emails and messages look official and make you think they’re real when they’re not.
There’s good news, though! If you know how to spot and avoid scams, you’ll keep your money and personal information safe online. Read our 2-part blog on Senior Safety here.
When you shop or share personal information online, make sure you always use websites that are secure. Secure websites protect your banking and personal information when you’re online. To know whether a site is secure, look for a picture or icon of a padlock near the website address.
√ Click on the padlock. It should say “Connection is secure.”
√ Check that the website address starts with https://. The “s” means the website is secure.
X Websites that start with http:// and don’t have the “s” aren’t secure.
Tech -Savvy Seniors are Shaking Up Senior Living
Innovative and exciting programs are essential to successful learning. Ones like Tech Savvy Seniors at our St. Albert Retirement Residence in Alberta. The curriculum helps residents build the skills and confidence to use the internet, computers, tablets, and smartphones so that they can stay connected with their families, friends, and communities with ease.
The initiative teaches seniors to use technology in a guided environment, with lessons that are fun, simple to understand, and sets them up for success.
Some of skills seniors learn are:
- How to set up a WiFi connection.
- Setting up accessibility options on their device, like the magnifier or how to change text size.
- How to set up email or social media accounts.
- What are apps anyway?
- Apps for dementia, memory training, relaxation, and games
- How to access and search podcasts or audiobooks.
Participants realize that having the confidence to use modern tools helps make life easier. Tasks that once required spending a large chunk of time or money to accomplish – like banking or researching the best assisted living community – can now be done from the comfort of your easy chair.
If you live at any of our senior communities, our staff are always on hand to help calm your digital jitters. Whether you help connecting to the internet or using a new device, just ask your Health and Wellness team.
Retirement homes can be a great place to socialize for seniors, but that will never replace quality time with loved ones. Setting up your loved one with a computer or smartphone, which allows them to video chat, will change their life! There’s nothing like being able to video chat with grandkids or other loved ones who live far away.
Our residences also boast tons of events and activities you can enjoy, such as our upcoming ASC games. Follow up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn to keep up to date on all the exciting happenings at All Seniors Care Living Centres.
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.