The sun is out and the temperatures are up – which means baseball and softball fields all over the country are filled with kids pitching, hitting and fielding.
For many families, a day at the ballpark watching the grandkids play is a great afternoon of togetherness and bonding.
But what happens when grandparents live in a different city, or just maybe aren’t able or comfortable with being at a ballpark for a few hours?
That’s where technology can come in. With communication platforms like FaceTime or Zoom, or live streaming, it’s easier than ever to catch a grandchild’s ballgame, dance recital, or school play even if you live in a completely different time zone.
Of course, to take advantage of that ability, older adults need to feel comfortable with the technology first. As we move further into the digital age, the share of people 65 and older who use tech is growing, as 61% own a smartphone and 45% use social media.
For those who aren’t quite comfortable yet with tech, or those looking to expand their abilities, in this blog, we’re going to look at how older adults can use tech in their everyday lives without needing an IT department.
Have The Right Device(s) For Your Needs
If you or a loved one is looking to keep it simple and just use a phone or tablet for texting, email and basic web browsing, then holding on to an older device that still serves those needs is just fine. There’s something to be said for the idea that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But in the example above for watching a livestream of a grandchild’s game or performance, or to be able to use video chatting features, it helps to have a relatively new phone or tablet that can support the greater bandwidth needed for live video.
Buying a new device can be confusing, with salespeople listing off dozens of features and seemingly inconsequential differences between brands and models. For most people, the most basic model of any phone can handle their needs. Unless you’re looking to shoot and edit short films on your phone, keeping it simple is the best way to go. For instance, if you’re an Apple user, an iPhone SE might be the right option rather than the more expensive models.
Staying Connected To Loved Ones
Once you have the right device in hand, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with your loved ones. Texting is the quickest and easiest way most people communicate now.
Even if an adult child or grandchild is busy, most people are able to send quick texts throughout the day to stay in touch.
From there, iPhone users can use FaceTime for video calls with friends and family. The app comes pre-loaded on the phone and is incredibly easy to use. Android and other providers also have video chat features as well.
And, well, it is a phone. You can always go the traditional route, even with a new device, and simply call someone.
Social Media: Should You Join?
So far, we’ve focused on ways to stay in touch with loved ones, which is mostly safe and reliable. Of course, you may be curious about social media if you haven’t dipped your toes into that water already. And this is where tech can be a challenge for older adults who aren’t well-versed in that world.
First of all it can be confusing – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, TikTok – how do you know where to start? Can these sites be trusted?
There are some pros and cons to older adults joining social media:
- Stay-up-to-date with everything friends and family are up to that they may not text you about
- Connect with friends or acquaintances you haven’t seen in a while
- Find communities of people you share interests with
- Quick access to news and information
- Can be confusing keeping up with fast-changing trends and apps
- Lots of people using social media to commit fraud against vulnerable adults
- Propaganda and extremist content
- Algorithms that are designed to keep you online longer than you set to spend
If you would like to join at least one social media site to see what it’s about, we recommend you take the following steps to help protect yourself:
- Keep all accounts private, and accept friend requests or followers only from people you know.
- Do not interact with any strangers who send you private messages on an app.
- If it’s someone claiming to be a family member or friend, call or text them off the app to confirm it’s them.
- Do not send anyone money or provide personal information to anyone on social media, even if they claim to know you.
- If you find yourself wondering whether or not to click an uncertain link, or aren’t sure what to do next, a simple rule of thumb is: don’t. There are no emergencies in your social media feed. Stop and ask for help from someone familiar with the apps.
- Read or watch news only from reputable outlets.
- Set a timer to indicate when it’s time to log off, and regulate how much time you spend on the sites per day.
If you’re happy just texting and emailing people, have at it! But if you’re gaining some tech-savvy with your phone or device, it can be a handy tool to help with all sorts of day-to-day tasks:
Most major medical providers have web portals where you can handle a lot of administrative tasks: scheduling appointments, refilling prescriptions, even setting up a video chat with a doctor or medical provider. It can save valuable time instead of waiting on the phone or having to go in-person.
If the supermarket is a nuisance, and loading and unloading groceries from the car is taxing, most major grocery stores have apps where you can input your grocery list and have them delivered to your home.
Need a Lyft?
Yes, that’s Lyft with a ‘y’. Lyft, along with Uber, are two rideshare companies where you can input where you’re going, and local drivers will pick you up and drop you off, often at rates comparable to taxis.
Those are just a sampling of how tech can help you with day-to-day tasks, freeing up more time for you to do the things you want to do instead.
Life at Prestige
At Prestige, we know that navigating tech can be challenging for older adults – FaceTime is a long way from using a rotary phone.
But our teams are here to help. We often help residents with their tech needs – whether it’s connecting with family members or helping answer questions about social media.
It’s just one way we help residents make the most out of life. Contact the Prestige location nearest you to learn more about our programming and approach to care.