Here’s a guide on how to adapt to smart technology for seniors
Nov 30, 2023, 3:00 PM
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Technology has significantly advanced over the last 20-plus years and continues to at what some might consider a dizzying pace. Equal parts intimidating and exciting perhaps best describe most of us as we approach some available technologies. If we can learn to use some of the technology many devices offer, we will be rewarded with how much more the world opens for us.
Technology has the potential to connect us in ways we never dreamed of 20 years ago. New opportunities for learning online, communication with friends, family, healthcare givers, and even first responders are literally on the tip of our fingers, and entertainment possibilities increase almost exponentially.
Let’s look at some ways we can approach smart technology and how it can expand our world as we age.
Easy does it
Start small. Don’t try to take it all in at once. The amount of learning material can be overwhelming.
- Choose one application to start. Whether it is your phone and how to make a call, storing contacts and information, or even texting, just pick one thing at a time.
- Study that one thing and learn it. Before moving on to multiple applications, known as “apps,” understand how one of them works and master that. For example, learn how to add contacts to your smartphone and practice adding them before moving on.
Take the time to research the different available apps.
- Review an app before you download it. Make sure it is something you either want or need.
- Make a list of the apps you think might be helpful to your lifestyle and needs. If you have a subject of interest or a service you need, there is likely an app for you.
- If you are starting with phone apps, the phone may already come with a preloaded one. Apple and Google are common starting points.
Senior Living ™ has several articles to help you forge through the app maze. Here are some helpful apps for seniors.
Online security is always a concern. Never download anything you are not sure about. We recently provided tips about online security. Here are some ways to spot scams on the internet and our email accounts.
- Never open or respond to an email from an unknown source. Look at the sender’s email address. Scammers often send what looks like an email from a well-known source, but the sender’s address is from a different source.
- Avoid opening pop-ups and ads that sound too good to be true.
- If you are unsure, ask a friend to look at it. Another pair of eyes is always helpful.
- When in doubt, trust your gut. Delete the ad or email.
The Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers Green Valley’s Scam Squad is dedicated to keeping up with new scams and getting that information out to the public.
Once you have researched various apps, which can be overwhelming, take the time to think out which ones will help make your life easier. Sounds simple, but it is not. Here are a few major categories you might want to consider.
- Health. Tracking your activities, exercise accomplishments, heart rate, and blood pressure, are just the starters. There are apps to help you manage your medications and to engage with healthcare professionals.
- Scheduling. These apps help you keep track of commitments. Look for a scheduling app that can also provide a reminder.
- Food delivery services. There are several possibilities from your local grocery store to companies such as DoorDash that will deliver from many restaurants. Be aware that restaurant delivery can get expensive because of the fees and tips.
- Communication. There is the phone, of course, but there is also messaging and video chat where you can see in real-time the person you are calling. Apple iPhones come with FaceTime, plus there are many apps including Zoom, WhatsApp, and Skype that help us keep in touch with family that is far away. Studies show that connections like these can help fight loneliness and depression.
Technology, combined with internet connections, combined with the right gadgets, can make our lives simpler. Here are two such devices to make that happen.
- Voice-activated devices. Such devices are connected to your internet and are designed to respond to a human voice instead of a keyboard. These devices remain silent until you engage them by asking for information. These devices can not only give you news, but their access to all the information on the internet essentially makes them your verbal keyboard. Weather, music, and factual information are all available. There are subscription services available to allow your voice-activated device to call for emergency assistance if you need it.
- Video-activated devices. A common application of video devices is our doorbells. Products such as Ring provide a wireless view of your front door (or wherever you place it), let you know who is at your door without opening it, and record movement in and around the area. This is helpful to combat porch pirates. Both are good safety practices.
As daunting as it may seem, technology can help seniors, or anyone of any age, for that matter, with a variety of tasks as well as monitoring our well-being. Look to your local library as a resource for learning more about the technology available and how you can apply it to your lifestyle.
Keeping in touch with the grandkids, borrowing books from the library, and taking an online college class are just some ways we can stay connected and active.
Join Rosie on the House every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions & comments.