Baby boomers are increasingly being divided into two categories - the tech-savvy and the tech-averse. The techies employ the technological tools provided by computers, Smartphones, Facebook, and Facetime to keep abreast of what is going on in the world and to connect with family and friends. “Techies” post their photographs to the Cloud and take advantage of Dropbox and other internet resources to store documents.
The “anti-techies” isolate themselves from these resources, which when utilized appropriately, can enrich life. This is true, not only for those who suffer no restrictions of mobility, but especially for those who are home-bound or living in facilities.
The divide seems to have less to do with age than with a spirit of intellectual curiosity and adventure present in those venturing into the world of technology. Of course, many people now in retirement were forced to become proficient in word-processing and accounting programs when they were working. But a large number of aging boomers who didn’t face that requirement have embraced the wonders of communication technology out of their own internal motivation.
Indeed, this divide redefines what it means to be handicapped. While it isn’t realistic to think that all, or even many, seniors will want to keep up with all the games and apps for communication that their grandchildren are exploring, it is vital that some effort be made to stay abreast of the tools technology can provide.
Technology can handle tasks for individuals at home that they used to have to travel to accomplish. There is really no excuse not to add the benefits of technology to life.
Use Technology to Stay Informed
The Internet makes it possible to sample news stories from all the major newspapers around the country. Folks are no longer limited to the coverage of the daily paper whose contents are often dictated by publishing deadlines. Many have opted to depend upon Internet coverage alone. News feeds from the major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing provide a steady stream of news throughout the day.
Use Technology to Take Care of Business
Before the advent of online banking, online postage and shopping, elderly persons who could no longer drive had to depend upon someone to transport them to the bank, the post office and stores. Today, they can perform the tasks of banking, paying bills, even filing tax returns on the computer or through a Smartphone app. They can shop online and have products delivered, often with free shipping, to their doorsteps. Even going out for stamps is no longer a necessity for many mailings. Postage can be purchased and printed from the computer.
Use Technology to Enhance Communication With Friends and Family
Technology can enhance communication with friends and family in many ways. Set up a Facebook page. Even if you go on the social media site only occasionally, it will provide an avenue to connect with those near and far away. Learn to text on your Smartphone. Texting is more efficient than leaving a message on an answering machine or Voicemail. Plus text messages are far less invasive to the recipient and less time- consuming by omitting the necessity to listen first to a message, then making a call to respond.
Use Technology to Boost Fading Memory and Enhance Knowledge
To some degree, all seniors experience the inability to bring up names or places from the past. Keeping handy a Smartphone or a tablet connected to your Wi-Fi can enhance conversation when fading memory interrupts the flow of information. Say you and your spouse are discussing a movie you both loved from twenty years ago but you can’t recall who played the leading role. The answer is just a fingertip away.
Fuzzy on history? No longer are you limited to the blurbs in the encyclopedias sitting on the shelf nor do you have to run to the library and check out a book to get the scoop on an event or character from the past. The Internet has become an endless source of information on just about any subject. And if your interest is piqued enough to consult a book, Amazon and many other sources for purchasing, are just a click and credit card away. And the source can be delivered to your doorstep the next day even, if you want to cough up the extra shipping fee.
Use Technology for Entertainment
You are not alone if you still prefer to hold a paper book, hard or soft cover, in your hands for reading. But, even if that is your preference, don’t limit yourself. Download an audible version of a book of interest. Listen to it and then another and another until you are able to listen without your mind wandering. Audible books require a learning curve books but the payoff is enormous.
Enhance the time performing mindless tasks by listening to the book while you complete them. Keep a list of the books you’ve read during the year. You may be surprised how many more you can enjoy by adding audible version to your repertoire.
Download an e-book app on your Smartphone, tablet or computer and order a few books to have on reserve for those idle moments of waiting, whether it’s at the doctor’s office, at the garage having the oil changed or picking up the grandchildren at school.
If you enjoy streaming and can afford the data to provide it, listen to movies, documentaries, and your favorite programs from sources like NPR.
Do not handicap yourself by remaining outside the tech world altogether. Wherever you stand on the scale of tech savvy versus tech averse, make 2016 the year of resolve to expand your knowledge of what technology can do for you.
Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm, whose principal office is in Fort Worth, Texas. She lives and practices in Somervell County. If you have questions or concerns, please contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 254.797.0211.