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.

Exercise Your Retirement Rights

Living a fulfilling and fun retirement is not always easy but as a retiree you have certain rights. I am not talking about legal rights but rather benefits that are due those of us living retired life. Think more along the lines of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, those elements that combine to bring quality to our days.

As we enter and begin to explore our second act it is important we realize the importance and make the most of our retirement rights. We want to be happy. We deserve to be happy. What are our rights?

You have the right to your own opinion

Back in the day (employed that is) it is possible your creative inspirations may have fallen upon deaf ears. Some bosses look solely for support of their ideas hence the proliferation of career-ladder-climbing yes men and women. As a retiree no longer concerned with upward mobility you get to call it like it is. You do not have to agree and when you don’t you can say so. Freedom of speech is a genuine privilege to be exploited as you see fit. Your opinion matters and you have a right to it.

You have the right to expand your horizons

Retirement is only the beginning of a portion of life where you are in control. You are not limited to the person you are entering retirement. Rather you have decades to add to your life resume, to improve and modify the mix until you get it just the way you like it. New interests and passions will avail themselves – it is up to each of us to engage. Instead of fearing the unknown we can embrace it, testing the waters of new experiences to add to the persons we are. If we learn to feed our curiosity there is little time for boredom.

You have the right to spend your day doing what you want

In retirement your calendar belongs to you. You are no longer required to attend events that bore or aggravate you. The day starts when you say it does and you manage the game plan. With practice you can learn to strike a balance between active time and down time. It is this balance I think that is so important to insuring a fulfilling retirement. Many have to unlearn decades of following the rules and giving 110% of themselves to the wants and needs of others. In retirement we learn it is okay set your own pace and pay attention to you.

You have the right to take a break

In earlier days when responsible for maintaining family, career and some semblance of sanity the idea of taking a moment to yourself rarely crosses your mind. Sometimes the only speeds available seem to be fast and faster. It is not healthy to live at full speed all the time – you eventually burn out or blow up. In retirement you are captain of your own ship. Should you feel the urge to pull into port and chill awhile, sail on. If pruning those many rose bushes seems too much for right now pull up a lounge chair and rest a bit – they will be there when you return. Getting used to the freedom to do nothing without fear of reprisal or feelings of guilt is a right all retirees should exercise, sooner rather than later

You have the right to spoil those you love

Although not yet a grandparent I cannot think of a better role to play. Enjoy time with grand kids, spoil the heck out of them and then send them back to the parents. With free time retirees are able to spend quality non-rushed hours engaged in meaningful or just fun pursuits with those they love. Imagine focusing your efforts on family and friends without interruption or pressure to do otherwise. That is something worth the wait.

You have the right to say no

If you don’t want to do it, don’t.

You have the right to dance

Or sing or laugh or skip or do whatever pleases you for the moment. You are free to let your inner child out to play when the mood strikes. Don’t worry about impressing others. Don’t concern yourself with what others think. If it feels good just do it.

The thing about retirement rights is you are responsible to see they are enforced. It is up to each retiree to make sure their second act is balanced, meaningful, fun, and memorable. No one is going to do it for us. But what a glorious feeling to have some degree of control over our days.