Too many older adults shy away from technology. But the truth is, technology can make your life safer, richer, and more convenient than life without it.
That’s not to say you should rush out and buy the latest and greatest gadgets. Fun as it may be, that’s not the best use of your retirement savings. However, there are some technologies you’d be foolish to live without as you grow older.
Sure, you lived without a cell phone for decades. But if you could have a lifeline in your pocket at all times, why wouldn’t you? After all, a cell phone isn’t just a way to make and receive calls. It’s also your GPS, your calendar, your camera, and your emergency beacon.
Some companies design cell phones intended for tech-fearful seniors. However, it’s worth getting comfortable with mainstream iPhone and Android smartphones. Unlike the basic phones created for seniors, smartphones support a full range of apps so you can take advantage of all the technology has to offer. (Want to track steps? Manage meds? Play games? There’s an app for everything.)
You may be surprised to learn that video games offer cognitive benefits to seniors, and can even be traced to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. On top of that, there are games that promote fitness so you can improve your health (and reduce your risk of falling). If you’re going to start gaming, make the most out of the experience by upgrading your internet to 5G if it’s available in your area.
Smartphones are great for a lot of things, but there’s one area where they fall short: video calling. Many seniors complain about smartphone screens that are too small and devices too awkward for video calls. That’s one reason the popularity of smart displays like the Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub, and Facebook Portal have skyrocketed. In addition to a more comfortable video chatting experience, smart displays may function as digital photo frames, voice-activated assistants, and smart home controllers.
Smartphones and smart displays help seniors connect with people they know, but what about new friends? That’s where social media comes in. Whether it’s catching up with old classmates, discussing hobbies in a forum, or mingling with potential love interests, the internet offers a variety of ways for seniors to stay social. Of course, it’s important to be cautious online. In addition to watching for scams, older adults should learn how to identify fake news and misinformation online.
If it seems like everything is “smart” these days, there’s a reason: Connected devices make everyday life easier. But while younger buyers are after convenience and cool factor, older adults are primarily interested in smart devices that improve safety and accommodate disabilities. Think: a door that opens with the push of a button, no fumbling with keys required, and the ability to answer the door, turn on a light, or adjust the thermostat from anywhere.
Your old car may be reliable and immaculately cared for, not to mention fully paid off. But how safe is it? As sturdy as your car may feel, if it lacks key safety features like crumple zones, side and curtain airbags, and electronic stability control, you’re putting yourself at risk. Even cars as little as 8-10 years old are 27 percent less safe than cars 0-3 years old. You don’t have to spend a fortune to buy a safer car. A number of cars top-rated for safety cost less than $30,000 new. With a late-model used car, you can get into a safer vehicle for under $20,000.
You may not be a digital native, but people of all ages benefit from technology. Rather than let the learning curve and price tag of new gadgets scare you away, warm up to the ways that technology can improve your everyday life. With a few key upgrades, you can make your senior years safer, smarter, and more tech-savvy.
This guest post was graciously provided by Bob Shannon from Seniors Meet.org.