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Do seniors need smartphones?

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It seems that the older generation loves to reminisce on the times when we didn’t have screens to stare at constantly. Smartphones can cause car accidents, people walk into streets, and people are consumed in their own little bubbles.

But technology can also be seen as a way to connect. Pew Research states that 82% of smartphone-owning seniors describe their phone as freeing. Only 64% of those ages 18-29 have the same sentiment. Even fewer elderly smartphone owners (18%) describe their phone as “a leash” compared to double (36%) of those under age 30.

Why is it that the elderly and young people view this technology so differently? Is it important for seniors to start using and embracing this technology even if it may seem overwhelming or difficult to use?

How do we use our smartphones?

This isn’t about necessarily “how to use a smartphone”, we want to discuss the role smartphones play in our lives. Pew Research Center found that younger adults use their phones for a wide range of purposed such as to relieve boredom and to avoid those around them. Older Americans mainly use their phones for basic features like calls, email, and texting.

The reason is likely that older Americans are less likely to be online. Also, only 27% of those ages 65 and older have a smartphone compared to 85% of 18-19 year olds.

Another reason seniors tend to use just the basic functions of their phones is due to medical conditions like poor eyesight or hearing that make it difficult to use other features. Pew also stated that many older Americans are skeptical of the benefits of having a smartphone.

But that doesn’t mean all seniors are Luddites. Their study showed that in 2014, half of seniors using the internet were on Facebook.

Why use a smartphone?

Yes, the smartphone has been to blame for young people not connecting with those around them, but the smartphone has many beneficial features that are not as news-worthy as a teen walking into the street while playing on their phone.

These beneficial features include:

  • Video calls
  • Camera
  • Access to real-time news (Twitter, news apps)
  • Mobile banking and payments
  • Maps and navigation (Google Maps)

 

What will get more seniors to use smartphones?

One answer is education.

Smartphones don’t come with user manuals, and even if they did it would still be overwhelming and confusing to use the device especially if it’s your first time.

Getting educators into nursing homes or senior centers, hosting community smartphone sessions at the library are great ways to show seniors the benefits of learning to use one.

Once they’re able to see that they can Skype their kids and relatives, and are able to figure out how to use it, they may want to jump on board.

But don’t pressure them. They’ve lived nearly their entire lives without one, and many will put their foot down about getting one. The next best solution is to get them a senior-friendly phone. There are some available with large buttons and screens that display big numbers for easier visibility.


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Christmas Shopping for the Elderly

Buying gifts for your elders is never easy.  Odds are, your tastes are quite different than theirs, they may not be able to use some gifts because of health issues you’re unaware of, and what might seem like a great present to you might be completely inappropriate to them!  To help you out in this fun but sometimes stressful time of year, we’ve compiled a bunch of articles that we’ve found that are just packed with great gift ideas for the elderly in your life.

Gifts

12 Christmas Gift Ideas for Retirees

EXAMPLE: Dance lessons. These offer an opportunity for great exercise and great fun. Your recipient will also meet new people, and for married couples, it’s a wonderful way to rekindle the romance. (Husbands: Get the hint! This works better than jewelry, and it’s a lot cheaper. I can personally attest to the success of this gift.) Dancing is also rated highly as an activity to keep you mentally sharp in your later years.

Top 10 Holiday Gifts for the Senior in Your Life

EXAMPLE: Smartphone — Phones are not only important for keeping the social connection—a necessary ingredient for quality of life—but also are crucial for senior safety. Many smartphones of today offer large buttons, photo speed dial, visual rings and more.

Gift Ideas for the Elderly

EXAMPLE: Tickets to Performances  For elderly people on fixed incomes, tickets to films, live theater, and concerts are often beyond their reach. A gift of tickets, especially to see a favorite actor, play, or performer, is often a special gift. Gift cards in multiple denominations for movies can be purchased from Fandango ‎ and directly from many movie chains. Tickets for current theater and concert offerings can be purchased from Ticket Master.

8 Christmas Gift Ideas for Elderly Parents or Grandparents

EXAMPLE: A memory quilt  Creating a quilt out of baby clothes, army uniforms (if your grandparent or dad served in the military), wedding dresses, and other unique clothes or heirlooms is a very special gift. Quilts are practical and meaningful Christmas gift ideas for grandparents or elderly parents, especially if you make it yourself – or you make it with them!

Unique Christmas Gift Ideas for the Elderly

EXAMPLE: Hire a maid: One of the things you can do for the elderly one this Christmas is to hire a maid to look after them, this maybe for a short while but it would surely mean a lot to them, and in the case where you can afford it why not engage the services of a nurse to cater to the old one, especially this period of Christmas celebration. There are maids you can hire for few days just to look after your old ones.

10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Residents & Elderly Seniors

EXAMPLE: Terrarium  Flowers die, and a houseplant can require frequent tending. A terrarium, however, makes a lovely, elegant gift. With its own tiny ecosystem and landscape, it’s an unusual gift that will be treasured and, if made correctly, requires minimal (if any) care. They’re typically available at florists and can also be purchased online (e.g. Gothic House Terrarium with Live Plants). Or, if you have the time, make your own.