Technology is continually changing and evolving, and it continues to offer us ways to make our lives a little easier – it just takes a little bit of time to get up to speed on new devices and tools. There are lots of ways seniors can and do take advantage of technology for entertainment, to make difficult tasks simpler, to find ways to connect with family and friends, and to save time and money.
1. Easier end-of-life planning
Making end-of-life arrangements for seniors isn’t the first thing you may want to think of when considering how to take advantage of technology, but it’s important to think about what will happen when you’ve passed on. You don’t want your family to have to deal with a lot of planning while they’re grieving, or to take on financial difficulty, or to deal with the burden of having to figure out what you would have liked.
The good news is that today it’s easier than ever to help you and your family plan a funeral because of online resources. You can easily find burial insurance, learn which important documents you need, choose a memorial service location, find resources to help you set up a will, make your funeral service plans, and keep everyone informed on what else needs to be done. It’s as easy as typing in the subject you’re interested in.
2. Stay social
Even if your kids and grandkids have moved far away, you can chat with them face-to-face through social media platforms perfect for seniors, such as Skype, Facetime, or Facebook, using your smartphone, iPad, computer or laptop. Lots of people enjoy posting photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and you can easily sign up for these apps to check in on your family’s activities, share your own, and follow special interests such as cooking, traveling, and outdoor activities.
Check with your tech-savvy family members if you’d like help getting started, or visit your local public library for assistance. Most have Internet-connected computers available and provide help getting online, no matter how much computer background you have (or don’t have). Some even have iPads available for checkout if you don’t have your own.
In some cases, libraries may be closed so also, check your library’s online resources for seniors activity groups, crafting groups, free movies, or game nights to keep your local social connections strong.
3. Be entertained
Speaking of your local library services, many of them offer free streaming services like Kanopy or Hoopla, which are the equivalent of Netflix, Hulu, or other movie-and-TV-watching online services, except they’re free with your library card. These can be streamed right to your smart TV at home, or watched on the go on your phone or iPad. The pay-to-watch entertainment sites are also a good choice, with low monthly fees and unlimited viewing, and with the added benefit of access to their originally produced popular shows and movies. Some offer different types of plans to fit your needs. Amazon Prime offers the added benefit of free shipping for books and other items.
Also, the proliferation of games on the Internet leaves users with an abundance of choices, whether it be word games, puzzles, card games, or more. And book lovers can rejoice in the availability of apps that allow you to read your favorite books on your smartphone or other devices, or to listen to them while you walk, do housework or garden through services such as Audible.
4. Get deliveries
Love to eat well but aren’t crazy about trips to the grocery store? Sign up for online meal kit delivery services a great service for seniors. The types of deliveries range from fully assembled meals, some that need a little cooking, or whole grocery deliveries. Some are subscription services, but allow you to choose the frequency of your deliveries. Some offer organic and gluten-free options. It can be a great, low-maintenance way to plan for family visits, small parties, or simply a pleasant evening at home with a gourmet meal.
5. Keep fit
Exercise trackers can help you stave off disease and obesity by helping you to keep fit. These watch-sized devices can be worn on your wrist, around your neck, on your belt or on your shoe. They can keep track of your steps, your heart rate, calories burned, stairs climbed, speed, and other fitness factors. Good choices include Fitbit, Garmin, Realalt or OZO, with easy-to-read displays and some with sleep trackers to make sure you’re also getting the rest you need.
Exercise trackers can have an addictive motivating quality, encouraging you to get the satisfaction of reaching a certain number of steps or workout times each day, giving you the little push you need to turn off Netflix for an hour or so and get moving.
6. Save money on energy costs
New smart home technology can help you save on energy costs in your home. These smart items might include smart thermostats, which can be programmed to adjust automatically at certain times of day or when people walk into the room, ensuring you’re not burning energy that you’re not using.
Smart light bulbs with LED bulbs can be set in a similar way, and they also can be set to change color, reducing the amount of blue light emitted toward the evening hours, helping to preserve your eyesight and help you sleep better. Smart LED bulbs, while more expensive than their older counterparts, consume less energy than their incandescent parents. Power strips with smart technology can save energy by cutting out the energy drain that appliances would otherwise consume even when they’re off.
7. Protect yourself and your home.
Smart tech also can help protect you and your home. Smart light bulbs also can also be programmed right from your smartphone or iPad to turn on when you’re not home, to give the appearance that you’re there even while you’re traveling or out for the day. Smart doorbells with cameras let you catch a glimpse of who’s on your front porch, and those cameras also can keep an eye on your packages and other deliveries. Smart locks can be connected to your devices and let you lock the door from far away if you forget before heading out.
There are lots of ways to tap into the power of technology, depending on your comfort level and knowledge – the bottom line is finding ways to use it to make your life simpler and more enjoyable.
What are some of your suggestions for ways seniors can take advantage of technology? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.