5 Ways Seniors Can Find Empowerment Through Technology

Written By Marie Villeza

The notion that seniors don’t wish to use or embrace technology couldn’t be further from the truth. More and more research continues to show that seniors are just as interested in technology as younger generations. This narrowing of the digital divide gives seniors even more resources to help them stay in touch, maintain a social calendar, enjoy travel, and monitor their health. All of which goes to show that age is just a number.

Of course, there are many seniors who are ready to jump into using technology, but their lack of know-how leaves them feeling intimidated. It doesn’t have to be this way! By helping seniors gain accessibility to technology, we can empower them to take better control of their lives. Here are some great ways to connect seniors with technology and help them maintain independence.

Tablets and Smartphones

A tablet is a great option for seniors to use, especially if they don’t have a need for a computer. Tablets have great portability, and they make it easy to check email, use social media, stay in touch with family, play games, or plan for life. Smartphones also offer great access for seniors. These phones have all the benefits of a tablet but on a smaller scale. There are even several types of smartphones that are specifically designed for seniors. It helps, too, that more companies are taking note of seniors’ interest in technology, which in turn brings more devices to the marketplace that are senior-friendly.

Technology Classes

Most libraries and senior centers these days have a variety of technology classes that can help anyone get a better grasp of how to use their smartphone, tablet, computer, or apps. The best part about these classes is that they are usually free. (Always a bonus when you’re retired and on a budget!).

Also, AARP has recently developed AARP Tek, which gives seniors a starting point for learning more about technology, understanding safety measures when using new technology, help with using social media, and connecting with caregivers. This is a huge benefit to bridging any sort of digital divide. And by having such a renowned senior-focused group aiding in technology know-how, this definitely can lend a sense of legitimacy and comfort.

Apps Abound

Once seniors have the hang of the tablet and smartphones, the possibilities are endless. There is an app for just about everything you can think of: games, travel, appointments, music. And that’s just naming a few. Apps can also connect seniors with technology-assisted living that includes grocery shopping, transportation, medication reminders, cleaning services, and in-home health care. While predominant in larger cities, this type of technology is still available in many moderately-sized cities and suburbs. By having this type of access right at their fingertips, seniors can keep their independence and stay tech savvy.

Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers

Many seniors are enjoying the benefits of smartwatches. These are sleeker, nicer looking and less obvious devices compared to the wearable safety alert systems of yesterday. Smartwatches offer a multitude of options like cell phone connectivity, GPS tracking, medication reminders, fall alerts, or panic buttons. (This technology can even provide comfort to families, too, so they can help monitor aging parents who might not live nearby.)

Fitness trackers help everyone keep an eye on their fitness levels, and with the ease of use these are perfect devices for seniors who want to monitor their fitness and sleep activity.

Get the Family Involved

With teenagers being the portion of the population particularly savvy when it comes to technology, connecting teens with seniors is a great way for the younger generation to help the older generation understand how best to use their devices and apps. This becomes a twofold benefit in that not only will seniors get tech help from kids who know how to use it, but you also have inter-generational bonding taking place.

These are just a handful of ways for seniors to gain more accessibility to technology. As the marketplace grows, so will their options. By making technology more approachable, seniors will have the opportunity to feel more connected to their families, communities and the world in general.

How To Keep Busy During The Holidays When You Are On Your Own

Written by Karen Laing

For those who are living overseas for the first time, are new empty nesters, or have recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be a daunting time. There’s a pressure to “do something special”, always in large gatherings — but that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are many ways you can have a special, restful, rejuvenating and enjoyable holiday season, all on your own.

“Spending Christmas alone can certainly be liberating. We live in a world where we are expected to conform – not doing so can be an exciting phenomenon. Of course, it really depends on which part of the world you are in – culturally speaking. Here in the West, social solitude is still stigmatized. Instead, the cultural norm is to be connected on a day-to-day basis, especially on Christmas Day.”

Psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy

We’re sticking with the bit about it being liberating. We’ve gathered simple ways you can keep busy through the holiday season, for any budget, skill set or energy level.

Plan ahead so you have activities to look forward to each day

Being liberated of obligation doesn’t mean you have to opt out of social interaction altogether, though the holidays can keep the people you know pretty busy. If you’re a confident socializer or looking to meet some new people, why not jump on Meetup.com or check your local community board for some mixers? There’s no reason to quit being active in building relationships – there’s a big world out there looking for you!

There’s also no pressure to over-socialize if you’re hearts just not in it. It’s a great time of year for a relax, and a low key kind of holiday season might be exactly what you need this year, so take it as you feel.

Splurge and treat yourself

Why not treat yourself to an OTT experience or meal? Spoiling yourself doesn’t have to be a guilt fest anymore, not when the kids are grown up and on with their own lives, and you are running your own race. And spoiling yourself doesn’t have to be expensive – why not go to see your favorite classic holiday film? Eat Christmas dinner out of tradition in Chinatown, or go all out and get to the most elaborate restaurant you can to have a delicious feast.

Take a walk down memory lane

This Christmas might be your first without a special and important loved one who passed away this year. It is tough to be in a festive mood when you might be feeling down. Everyone approaches these feelings differently, though it might be a nice time to go through old photos, movies, letters or even social media accounts to remember the great holidays you took before. Sometimes Christmas is the only really quiet time of the year for reflection, so take this time to walk down memory lane, without anyone rushing you through.

While you’re at it, why not organize your moments so they are on hand throughout the year – whenever you do have a quiet moment to enjoy the memories you’ve shared with loved ones.

Join a Cause

Nothing keeps your mind busier than helping someone else in a time so synonymous with giving. It doesn’t have to be a shelter or a charity if that’s not what you’re into – help your neighbor, create something in a group, or join a community initiative – the list is endless for great things you can assist with. Take a cue from this guy who started knitting tiny hats for premature babies from the comfort of his nursing home.

Travel Solo

You might be spending this time alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend it at home. Travelling near or far this holiday season gives you the chance to go off the beaten path and experience something cool and unusual. There are plenty of amazing trips you can take solo. This is also an easy way to have some social connection as others are in the same position as you, travelling alone or in small groups in similar situations – you never know who you’ll meet!

Often the hardest part of spending holidays alone is navigating old traditions you’ve grown up with, while embracing new traditions for yourself. It can be especially difficult if you’re grieving from the loss of a loved one. However there’s help at hand, and you don’t have to follow the pressure of constant socializing that society demands for the holiday season. A special holiday season looks different for every person – so you do you!

Karen Laing is the founder and owner of Lady Anne Funerals. Karen loves golf, holidays in the sunshine in Bali with her family and serving her community in West Ryde, Sydney.