New technology and the internet aren’t just for young people. According to a recent study by Pew Research, 59 percent of American seniors are internet users.
“More of our residents are using the internet than ever before,” said Pati Wade, Independent Living Director at The Wesley Community, a Saratoga Springs non-profit that provides senior housing and services. “They’ve come to realize it’s a great way to follow the news, keep in touch with family, learn new things, and more.”
Wade said seniors at The Wesley Community use the internet for many purposes, including:
Consuming news: Today, news breaks over the internet in real-time. Seniors can stay informed on current events through websites and social media. Additionally, given that many devices will enlarge text, reading on a computer screen or tablet may be easier for seniors with vision impairments.
Activities: Seniors can use technology to check activity calendars at local senior centers, libraries, parks, and more.
Visual communications: Seniors can use Skype or other video calling applications to chat with friends and family through their computers or mobile device. These applications allow users to see the person they’re speaking with. Seniors can speak with friends across the world for free using these applications.
Tracking health information: Many applications, such as Health for iPhone, allow users to track health- related information such as body measurements, walking distance, and sleeping patterns. As an added benefit, this information can be available for caregivers and physicians.
Prescription management: Many pharmacies have online care centers where customers can view and refill prescriptions as well as read warning labels. Caregivers can also set up online profiles to communicate with pharmacies and check that medications are picked up, eliminating any worry that a loved one may have forgotten to pick up a necessary medication.
Connecting via social media: Social networking channels and applications, such as Facebook and Twitter, can help seniors stay connected with family and friends. Subscribed users can view status updates, photos, and videos posted by friends and can share information of their own.
Shopping: Those with mobility or transportation issues can find great convenience in online shopping. Almost all major retailers have e-commerce sites that showcase a large selection of inventory available for purchase.
Wade said The Wesley Community has responded to the uptick in senior internet use. It now posts monthly activity calendars on its website and updates its Facebook page regularly with reminders, news updates, and photographs from events.