With so many choices in hand-held communication available today, it should be easier than ever to “reach out and touch someone.” However, the advances in technology may be moving too quickly for many people, especially for seniors. For a generation more comfortable with face-to-face interaction and defined rules of etiquette, the increasing reliance on email, social networking and the Internet can contribute to feelings of isolation and societal alienation.

Throughout history, young people have traditionally been among the first to embrace new technologies, from phonographs to personal computers. However, whether it is due to a desire to keep in touch with their children, especially their grandchildren, or a drive to stay connected with today’s world seniors are quickly learning how to navigate our increasingly digital world. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “more than 50% of older Americans are Internet users and an even higher share have mobile phones.”

Smart technology can not only help the elderly stay connect with family and friends, it may also help them maintain their independence. As one of the largest living generations in our current population, as well as the oldest, the baby boomer generation continues to age and many tech savvy companies have taken notice. Creating products to help an aging society to communicate and gain information, companies like the Claris Healthcare have developed devices and software specifically designed for seniors,“the fastest growing segment of the US population” according to Fox News.

Whether they are living at home, in assisted living, in a nursing home or in an elder care facility, seniors who can use digital technology may have access to a whole new world of information. Products like the new Claris Companion, a computer tablet designed for seniors, feature touch-screen technology, the option to quickly connect with a pharmacist or health care provider and visual message reminders to take medication.

According Yahoo! News, Geof Auchinleck, CEO of Claris Healthcare, said the tablet is easy for seniors to use, even for individuals who are not comfortable with technology, because, “you don’t have to log in or put anything in. Your emails come to you, photos come to you, messages come to you but more importantly, self care information comes to you – like medication reminders and reminders on how to look after yourself.”

In addition to purchasing and learning how to use a personal smart technology device, such as tablets and smart phones, on their own, seniors may be able to access to these new communication devices through local organizations. Many libraries, community colleges and senior centers and libraries now offer computer and Internet training and some may even have e-readers, such as Kindles and Nooks, available for a limited loan period.

There are even social platforms designed specifically for aging adults, such as the Connected Living Network, a cloud-based social network.

Tailor-made for senior citizens, Connected Living features several popular tools, such as secure Internet and email access, video chat, photo sharing and interactive games. Available in numerous respected senior living facilities and public housing communities, the social network also provides senior care facilities an option to create a customized schedule of class schedules, activities and support available at their facility, while the seniors who use the system also have access to interactive displays and content, such as public community calendars, local news and weather.

Regardless of which device or platform you use, an ability to successful use digital technology can provide a variety of benefits, including improved mental and physical health

If the time has come when you or a family member can no longer maintain an independent lifestyle, please contact ElderLink to learn about senior care services and facilities available throughout California.