Remember when we’d look up a fact in an encyclopedia? Wait for the operator to connect our call? Or write a letter to a pen pal? In just a few decades, technology has dramatically changed the way we get information, connect with others and spend our free time. Many of these changes make our lives easier, but if you find it a challenge to know where to start, or how to keep up, you’re not alone. Here are three ways to harness the power of technology and make it work for you.
Make the most of your phone
Carry a cellphone? Welcome to the club. Over 42 percent of adults over 60 own a smartphone, a number that’s doubled since 2013. Phones are increasingly sophisticated devices with many senior-friendly features, including large screens that are easier to read and allow you to zoom in on text and photos. Some phones have voice-recognition capabilities that let you voice dial, dictate a text message or get information by asking a question. If you own an old-fashioned cellphone, you might want to trade up.
A smartphone puts the world in your palm. With a touch, you access music, games, audiobooks, exercise, shopping, banking, movies, transportation, recipes – the possibilities are endless.
Here’s how our tech-savvy Plymouth Place residents use their phones:
- Take photos of events
- Book tickets for movies or an event
- Check bank balance and monitor account activity
- Find and play music that’s not on the radio
- Download free audiobooks from the library
- Look up recipe and meal ideas
- Discover ideas for arts and crafts
- Get a weather report
- Buy and ship birthday gifts to the grandkids
- Play a mobile video game
Get connected online
Connecting with friends and family is good for your health, and technology makes it easy to communicate with them wherever they are. Say hello, or I love you, with a quick email, a text message or a photo. Even better, learn how to make a video call on WhatsApp or Skype so you can see the person you’re talking to.
Getting online can also be good for your social life. Social media websites like Facebook are a fun way to see what your friends are up to and let them know what you’re doing. Surf the internet for websites that allow you to meet others who share your interests. Whether it’s classic cars or crafting, every city has local meet groups that hold events where you can socialize and have fun.
You can also use the internet to make a difference. Connect with like-minded people by supporting a petition or donating to a start-up. Make your voice heard by writing a review. If something works for you, why not let others know? Some companies may even give you a freebie if you post a review of their product or service.
Discover home and health devices
Technology isn’t just about the internet. Improvements in assistive home and health devices just keep coming:
- Hearing aids keep getting smaller and better, with some so tiny they can be implanted in your ear.
- Fitness trackers help you monitor your exercise, heart rate and count calories. Some can even measure how much sleep you’re getting.
- Medication dispensers allow you to load your medicines, allot the dosage and schedule when to take them. They sound an alert when it’s time to take your medication and dispense it accordingly.
- Smart-home devices use voice-recognition technology to respond to your spoken commands. You can play music, listen to the news or turn up the heat without leaving your chair. They can be wirelessly paired with your home appliances so you can control them with your phone from any location.
- Stove shut-off systems reduce the risk of a forgotten burner causing a fire. They have sensors that turn off the stove after a certain amount of time when no motion is detected.
- GPS trackers are mini-locators that can be worn or attached to clothing. They’re useful for keeping track of loved ones who may wander or become lost because of dementia.
- Home monitoring systems use sensors to detect falls, notice erratic behavior or even monitor vital signs of a loved one without intruding on their privacy.
Would you like to learn how to better use your phone, tablet or computer? Be our guest at the weekly Saturday session with our high school technology helper. You’ll meet seniors just like you who want to stay up to date on the latest technology trends. Call us at 1-866-573-1839 for more information.