Seniors and Technology: How to Break Down the Barriers to Communication, Socialization and More

seniors and technologyMany of our Nightingale Homecare elder clients have adult children that live across the country, or even in another country, and rely on the latest technology to observe and connect with their loved one through digital technology.

Often, however, the elder is opposed to learning computer skills, especially when they may also be recovering from illness or surgery. Most of us can relate to that, since even for the most computer-savvy among us, keeping up with changes in technology can be time-consuming and confusing. For older Americans, the sensory, motor and cognitive changes that come with age and illness can turn learning a technological skill into a seemingly insurmountable challenge.

One way to make technology work for your senior loved one is to plan ahead, and use the time you are together visiting to teach older loved ones how to connect with friends and family online, via a smart phone, etc. If you aren’t available, or are unable to teach these skills, perhaps seek assistance of a grandchild or other young person. Studies have shown that courses designed to teach elders computer use work best when combined with younger computer users. It’s also important to note that learning computer skills can often delay or reverse some sensory, motor and cognitive changes. (The Impact of Computer Technology on the Elderly; van de Watering)

Another outcome of teaching seniors how to use a computer is that computers and other tech devices can have a positive influence on their social lives. It has been observed that computers “present a unique opportunity for older adults to socialize and establish social networks that can alleviate loneliness and alienation.” (Karavidas, M., Lim, N. K., Katsikas, S. L. 2005: The effects of computers on older adults, Computers in Human Behaviour)

There are many computers designed specifically for those with sensory, motor and cognitive challenges. Kim Komando, a successful Phoenix, Arizona-based radio host and web entrepreneur, is described as “America’s Digital Goddess.” Ms. Komando is a trusted guide to people of all ages in need of digital navigation. She has endorsed several computers and aps for the elderly. Visit her website for ideas on computers for the elderly and other digital news.

We’ve also found success through these additional sites in helping to determine the best computer setup for the elderly:

·      Huffington Post

·      Assisted Living Today

·      SeniorTV

If you’d like some hands-on assistance with helping set your senior loved one up with the technology that will allow for better communication and enhanced socialization, give us a call at 602-504-1555. Our Phoenix senior care specialists love seeing the spark of interest in our senior clients as they discover the joys of connecting with friends and family through technology. We can also show seniors some online games that can improve memory and cognitive functioning, set up and provide training on fitness programs such as Wii to enhance overall health and wellbeing, and much more. After all, you’re never too old to learn something new!