Historically, elderly people are thought to be late adopters of new technology. This is particularly true of the Internet, with many seniors initially perceiving it to be an unnecessary fad. However, there are many great reasons for elderly people to use the Internet, to access health services, connect with family and friends and much more!
Here we examine the key benefits of the Internet for elderly people and offer some great tips on making Internet access easier for elderly people.
What are the key benefits of the Internet for elderly people?
Using the Internet can delay cognitive decline
Cognitive decline is a natural part of ageing. An elderly person’s memory, ability to communicate and problem-solving skills will gradually deteriorate. However, research has shown that remaining mentally stimulated can slow the progression of cognitive decline. The Internet offers elderly people many ways for remaining mentally stimulated including:
- Watching online videos
- Playing online games including sudoku, chess, and scrabble
- Learning new things
- Communicating with other people via video or text messaging
The Internet can help to ward off mental illness
Unfortunately, depression is very common in elderly people. It often occurs because elderly people become socially isolated and lonely, which triggers negative emotions. The Internet can be used to promote social engagement in a number of ways. Elderly people can have video chat sessions with their friends or relatives, participate in online communities, join a social network and much more. They will constantly be talking to other people, which can help them to remain mentally stimulated and avoid mental illness.
The Internet can promote physical health
The Internet helps people stay healthy in a number of ways. Firstly, accessing information about health is much easier thanks to the Internet. Elderly people can look up information about health conditions, medications, the foods they are eating, ways to improve their health and much more.
E-Health is also becoming more common in many countries. This service allows elderly people to have appointments and renew prescriptions via the Internet, which is often much more convenient than visiting the doctor’s practice in person. There are also devices which are can transmit vital medical information including blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rates directly to your doctor via the Internet, helping doctors to remain informed about a patient’s condition.
Finally, the Internet can help elderly people maintain their physical fitness. Elderly people can watch workout videos online, obtain information on how to perform specific exercises, track their fitness history and work with trainers via the Internet.
Opportunities to strengthen relationships with family and friends
The Internet gives elderly people the ability to connect with relatives and friends on a regular basis with messages, video chat, text chat and VOIP calls. This helps to maintain strong relationships and feel involved in the lives of loved ones.
The Internet helps elderly people learn new things
There are thousands of educational resources available online. Elderly people can take an online course, join a learning group or join a community dedicated to sharing knowledge about their favourite topic. Realising that there are thousands of like-minded people online who are passionate about the same hobbies, can be a huge draw!
Shopping online is fun!
Once elderly people have an understanding of how to use the Internet, they can start shopping online. In addition to buying presents for their friends and family, they can also do their grocery shopping. This can be incredibly convenient and creates a very satisfying feeling of independence.
There are numerous benefits to enjoy!
All of the above points can combine to help elderly people have a more busy, entertaining and exciting life, meeting new people, learning new information and exploring the world from the comfort of home.
How to make Internet access easier for elderly people
If you have an elderly relative who would like to use the Internet, they may require some assistance at first. Particularly if they do not understand the fundamentals of using the World Wide Web, it can be a very confusing experience.
Here are some simple tips and ideas to help someone get started online:
- Have them take a basic Internet usage class
There are classes available for elderly people who are learning how to use the Internet for the first time. They usually run over a few hours and can help your elderly relative get the hang of the basics very quickly.
- Make sure their devices have accessibility options
If an elderly relative has a vision or hearing impairment, they may require accessibility options on their computer or tablet device.
- Leave them with simple written instructions
Learning to use the Internet for the first time can be a complex experience for an elderly person! Leave them some simple written instructions so they understand how to go online by themselves and get the hang of it.
- Set them up with a wireless tablet
Many seniors don’t like being cooped up in front of a computer. They would rather be using the Internet while they sit outside drinking a cup of tea or while they are relaxing in their lounge room. Consider getting them a tablet device to make accessing the Internet feel more convenient.
- Point them in the right direction when they start
Get off to a great start by finding some websites that you know they will enjoy. If they love gardening, find a couple of the best gardening communities online and bookmark them, so your elderly relative can find them again easily. Create accounts on a couple of social networks and make sure applications are working correctly.
The Internet has so much to offer all of us and there is no reason for elderly people to be missing out!