It goes without saying that specific forms of technology are here to stay. For instance, we know that email and text messaging is the best form of communication for the masses. Additionally, your phone will likely have the same photo taking capability as any camera in the next five years. And we can interact face-to-face with someone on the other side of the world at any time we please. These facts are often taken for granted by the youth and busy working professionals.
For the retired and aging population, however, many of these concepts may be foreign to them. Here we outline the basic technology tools necessary for seniors to communicate and live in modern society.
1) Computer – The modern senior will be most reliant on their computer to keep in touch with friends, family and their community. Over the past decade the ability of any computer has drastically increased, which means, for the senior shopping for a new computer, it is difficult to go wrong. The primary needs of any senior wanting to use the computer as a communication, information and entertainment device should include large screen, webcam, DVD player, fast processor and lightweight. From there any upgrades will be solely dependent on the needs of the senior. Some useful tools include Microsoft Office (Windows, Xcel, PowerPoint, etc), anti-virus software and a whole suite of other applications that any computer will offer.
2) Browser – When selecting the best browser for the senior the most important option is the flexibility of the browser to meet the sight and security needs of the senior. Typically any new computed will come fully installed with Internet Explorer or Safari (Mac). While these browsers are advantageous for new users, especially those who selected a more limited option computer with small storage space, they do not afford seniors the same level of security or functionality. We find that the best option for seniors is Google Chrome. Google Chrome is packaged in a simplified interface, designed to make the life of seniors online easier. For starters, Chrome’s web address bar can be used as a search bar, therefore eliminating the step of entering the web address of the search engine and then searching for what you need. It is also convenient because by using Chrome, Google will be the default search engine, which we believe to be the most powerful tool on the internet. Second, Chrome has excellent security features that will either fully block any websites that are known to contain malware or are used to obtain personal information from vulnerable users. Lastly, for those that only want to use the internet on a limited basis to check email, use Facebook and maybe read their favorite news or entertainment source, Chrome stores this information and presents your most visited sites to you every time you open up the browser or new window.
3) Email – While it is certainly sad that gone are the days of handwritten letters with a personal touch delivered in each. However, given the speed and ease of email, it is hard to complain. Email is quite frankly a requirement in the modern day. Almost all websites require individuals to have an email address in order to sign up for services or accounts. For seniors that want to ensure they are up to date with the timeliest information from friends, family, work, investment advisors, doctors and the list goes on, it is paramount that they have an email address. Selecting an email provider can be a process, however we suggest that if a senior is newly selecting an email that they use whichever provider their other family members use. This will allow for the family to seamlessly integrate their elders into group conversations or share photos electronically across the email provider’s platforms. We personally feel that Gmail is the easiest to use with the most functionality, however most of the email providers offer similar services that do not overcomplicate the matter.
4) Smart Phone – One of the most frustrating and seemingly complicated pieces of new technology, seems to be the adaptation of smart phones for seniors. Sure enough it was difficult enough for them to learn the new technology of cell phones when they were introduced to the masses twenty years ago, but that technology only slowly evolved from the next decade, before going into hyper-drive and rapidly changing over the past few years. While we find iPhones to be the most user friendly, and least complicated, any of the devices currently available will suffice for the senior. As with the email provider we suggest that the family select a phone that is most used by other members so the senior can take advantage of the multiple sharing options and similar apps. Also, it is best that a family member or close friend spend time with the senior to orient them to the device, as well as help select a few apps that they will use most frequently and place them in the most visible locations on the phone.
Article written by Andrew Duke with Senior Directory, LLC