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Technology is the future, and digital communication has opened many doors for people around the world. Although younger generations have grown up with technology at their fingers, Baby Boomers and older adults did not. But in spite of that, studies show that growing numbers of seniors are open to the idea of technology and even seeking ways to further their use and knowledge.
According to a 2014 study by Pew Research Center, 59 percent of seniors regularly use the internet—a 6 percent increase from the previous study conducted in 2012. Today, 67 percent of adults age 65 and older say they go online.
Pew also says that, although seniors consistently have lower rates of technology adoption than the general public, four in 10 seniors now own smartphones, which is more than double the amount that did in 2013. Seniors in Australia are especially tech savvy, as a mobile consumer survey by Deloitte found 78 percent of Australian seniors aged 65 to 75 own a smartphone, up from 69 percent in 2016.
While stereotypes have long painted seniors as technologically inept, seniors are actually more socially and digitally engaged than ever before. Seniors use technology in many different ways. Some use mobile apps to manage medications and doctor’s appointments and monitor their fitness regimens.
Some families employ 24/7 alert systems or smart-home technology to keep seniors comfortable and safe at home for as long as possible. Noninvasive, “smart” technology can analyze factors such as whether or not doors are left open, if there has been movement in a home, or whether appliances/lights are on or off. This represents a great way for families to stay informed and provide assistance even if they are not nearby.
SilverSurfers, a senior-based information website, says other tech that seniors are embracing includes online dating; audio and digital books; online shopping, which is especially valuable to seniors who have mobility issues; and social media, which can keep seniors connected to others and feeling less lonely.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found 18 percent of American seniors live alone, and 43 percent report feeling lonely on a regular basis. Loneliness can increase death risk. Social media and internet connectivity can be an important tool in helping seniors feel like active members of society.
Technology is no longer just for teenagers or active workers. Seniors are increasingly embracing technology and becoming a fast-growing demographic for tech usage.