Going digital in elder years

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At some stage in the last 40 years, our society started moving faster. Fuelled by innovation and technology, the pace of life hasn’t slowed and only looks to accelerate further. Unfortunately, in the process, a digital divide was created between everyone before the baby-boomer generation and everyone after. Seniors have never felt more out of touch with the world. The digital divide contributes to a growing sense of alienation and helplessness. Out are the days you could walk into a bank and have a conversation with the bank manager who knows your name. In are online banking, mobile banking apps and streamlined customer service. The technology of the internet, smart phones and tablets is like a foreign language.


Bridging this digital divide is a challenge, but you can make it easier for yourself or an elder family member by keeping it simple. Remember to be patient if you’re helping out. Most new technology is encountered in the work place, and seniors have been out of that environment for many years. New technology is designed for people under 50, built on recent developments. The knowledge gap between what you intuitively know and what your elder loved ones haven’t experienced, is immense.


The best way to stay in touch with technology is to pick your battles. You can’t stay on top of everything, so chose what you want out of technology.



Stay in Touch

One of the best uses of modern technology is to keep in touch with family and friends. Facetime technology lets you see and talk to loved ones, even at great distances. The simplest solution is a tablet with Skype, Gmail or iChat. Setting up one of these is quick, just be sure to leave an app link on the home screen. Regular facetime with family goes a long way to avoid social isolation.



Stay Informed

The wealth of information and news at your fingertips through the internet can be overwhelming. Luckily products like Kindle make this interaction simple. Kindle is a double blessing for seniors as the Paperwhite range is much lighter than normal tablets. It is also much easier to use. Kindle subscriptions to newspapers and magazines will keep your loved ones informed and connected with the world, and the type can be adjusted to large sizes for easy reading.



Stay Entertained

Tablets are a great source of entertainment. If you have a Netflix account, set up the tablet as an access device. This puts a world of television shows and movies at your loved one’s finger tips. This can easily be connected to their TV through an Apple TV or media player. For access to puzzles that are entertaining and healthy for exercising the mind, set up a link to www.lumosity.com on the tablet home page.



Stay Educated  

The best way to bridge the digital divide is through education. There are many how to books available for seniors to help them become familiar and comfortable with technology. If your loved one wants to learn more about their devices or wants to venture out into the world of social media, these books are the way to go. The popular “For Dummies” books have a whole range “For Seniors” that are dedicated to easing them into the digital age. Titles include; “Facebook and Twitter”, “Laptops” and “Using the internet safely” and they can be ordered from Takealot.com.


A little help goes a long way to equipping your loved senior family members and friends for going digital. Before you know it, they’ll be Skyping you about the latest trending news, teaching you something new! Give them the gift of being connected to the world around them and being able to access you through technology.

Wendy Bezuidenhout