How to Become Technologically Savvy

Joseph, a retired teacher, recently purchased an iPad based on a recommendation from his grandchildren. He was excited to play games, such as Candy Crush, listen to music, read news articles, and surf the Web when he is out and about. However, he soon recognized that he didn’t know where to start, and the iPad ended up collecting dust. He realized that he needed instruction, and fast, as the technology of the Internet, iPads, and smartphones were like a foreign language to him.

We live in an era where everything, from nursing home quality ratings to getting junk out of your house by selling it on eBay, is online. Nowadays, the best way to stay in touch with busy grandchildren may involve Skyping or texting rather than trying to reach them on the phone. However, according to a recent Pew Research study, only 54% of Americans over age 65 have access to the Internet and among those 77 and older, the proportion drops to about a third.

The same Pew study reveals that “once seniors join the online world, digital technology often becomes an integral part of their daily lives.” The findings suggest that when seniors overcome some of the unique challenges facing them when it comes to technology, they typically become internet users and make visiting the digital world a regular part of their lives. In fact, 79% of older adults surveyed believe that “people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” while 94% agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.” The study also shows that 46% of online seniors (representing 27% of the total older adult population) use social networking sites such as Facebook, and these social network adopters have more persistent social connections with the people they care about.

Joseph, in our example, and many other seniors, are realizing that learning new technology will open up doors for them. Below are some ways you can become educated and make the most of new technology:

  • Senior Net has been teaching seniors about new technology since 1986. Supported in part by tech giants like Adobe, Microsoft, and IBM, as well as local governments and foundations, Senior Net has established about 50 learning centers around the country.
  • The Connections program, developed by the nonprofit Oasis Institute, is funded by grants from ATT. They offer 30 courses in metro areas, including DC, ranging from basics to digital photography and online job-hunting. To accommodate everyone, they keep classes small and of manageable length (two hours, with a break), with lots of repetition and hands-on practice. Workbooks are tailored to seniors — large fonts, multiple illustrations.
  • Another training center, called Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), teaches a range of senior-tailored courses in 70 locations, mostly in New York and DC (including libraries, public schools, senior centers and senior housing developments).  In fact, AARP works with OATS in DC to bring digital training to low-income adults who might otherwise be isolated. Federal stimulus funds have helped OATS build 3,000 computer labs around the country.
  • Social media can be used for staying in touch with friends and family and keeping up with trending topics and news. Knowing how to use social media is possible, using free online training available from GCF.  Classes include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Skype, and even blogging.

Once you become more technologically savvy and are experiencing all that social media has to offer, please follow me and the Farr Law Firm for senior news, as well as information and articles on numerous topics in the fields of Elder Law and Estate Planning, and to keep track of our upcoming educational events. We can be found as follows:

We here at the Farr Law Firm are pleased to see all of the advances in technology available to help improve the quality of life, health, and well-being for seniors.  Now that you know about the benefits of technology and where you can learn more, it is time to plan for your future and for your loved ones. As a Certified Elder Law Attorney, I focus on helping protect seniors and their families by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. Call in anytime at 703-691-1888 in Northern Virginia or 540-479-1435 in the Fredericksburg area to make an appointment for an introductory consultation.

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