Many senior citizens avoid computers, the internet, and technology in general like the plague. Why? Suspicion, mistrust, even fear of failure can cause the majority of older ones to rely on others when it comes to anything involving technology. The truth is, however, technology can benefit seniors in a variety of ways.
Enjoy More Communication
Long-gone are the days of hand-written letters – now called snail mail. E-mail has even been eclipsed by Facebook and other social networking sites. If seniors want to stay in touch with distant family members, understanding how to navigate these social sites is almost a requirement. Geriatric professionals encourage seniors to reach out online, stating that it can help with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
If you are a senior citizen who thinks you’re “too old” to learn how to use such sites, think again. A study released by Nielsen found the number of seniors 65 or older using the internet has increased by 6 million over the past 5 years. In addition, a study conducted by AARP discovered that more than 27 percent of Americans aged 50 and over use social media sites. If they can do it – you can do it.
Current cell phones allow friends and family to communicate faster than ever before, with texting and picture messaging. Certain models feature larger icons and touch-screens that make it easy for seniors, so consider getting a new phone. Getting instant pictures of your new grandbaby certainly has its appeal, doesn’t it?
Improve Brain Function
As the brain ages, a number of structural and functional changes occur, including atrophy and reductions in cell activity. A recent study has shown that adults with little Internet experience show changes in their brain activity after just one week online. The results of the study suggest Internet training can stimulate nueral activation patterns, potentially enhancing brain function and cognition.
Participants of the study underwent a series of brain scans which recorded brain-circuitry changes experienced while performing internet searches. The scans showed brain activity in the regions controlling language, reading, memory, and visual abilities. When additional brain scans were performed after the participants searched the internet at home, there was also activity in the areas of the brain known to be important for memory and decision-making.
Teena D. Moody, the study’s first author and UCLA researcher stated, “The results suggest that searching online may be a simple form of brain exercise to enhance cognition in older adults.”
Technology is not just for the younger generations. George Weiss of Brooklyn, New York has recently launched an app called Dabble – the Fast Thinking Word Game, for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Mr. Weiss is 84 years old.
Although Weiss began toying with the idea for Dabble in 1958, it didn’t become reality until early 2011. Soon after the physical board game was released, Weiss was eager to offer the game to everyone and set about having the app created.
Senior citizens would do well to consider Weiss’s example, and forget the worn out adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.