How to help seniors to be more digital savvy

Helping seniors become digitally connected

As the world becomes increasingly connected digitally, knowing how to use technology has become a critical skill. Many seniors feel left behind in the digitalisation drive, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t start learning how to use technology. After all, no one starts off knowing how to use digital devices. There are many benefits for seniors who are able to use technology.

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Benefits for Seniors who are able to use technology

1. Stay safe

Technology has enabled seniors to spend time alone at home safely, easing worries of families who are unable to provide a full time caregiver. Personal monitoring devices that monitor the senior’s movement, sleep and location will alert family members if there are unusual activities. Seniors can also call for help with the press of a button.

2. Easier access to healthcare

Today’s technology has simplified healthcare. Healthcare apps provide audible reminders to take medication, so seniors are less likely to forget a dose. It is also easier to make or change healthcare appointments using an app or see a doctor via teleconsultation so that seniors do not have to make unnecessary trips out.

Learn how St Luke's Hospital helps our seniors in our Community Active Ageing Programme to stay physically, mentally and socially healthy!

3. Stay connected

Although technology cannot replace in-person quality time with family and friends, it has allowed us to communicate more easily. When family and friends are separated by geography, seniors can connect with them through video calls, text messages and social networking sites.

The social distancing measures and border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated seniors’ adoption of technology as they use their devices to stay in touch with loved ones. Being able to use technology in this way eases feelings of depression and isolation, which are common for seniors living alone.

4. For entertainment

Another benefit of technology is that it helps improve cognitive and memory skills. There are online “brain games” that help seniors stay mentally sharp. For example, Tetris or Solitaire help with spatial recognition and memory while Sudoku and Chess involve problem-solving and forward planning skills.

While it’s true that many seniors prefer to get their news from traditional media like newspapers or TV, it is more timely and convenient to access information on the mobile phone, tablet or computer. When breaking news happens around the world, seniors can be updated immediately.

5. Greater convenience

Shopping online has become a breeze, thanks to technology such as online stores and payment gateways. Seniors can order necessities and have them delivered to the doorstep. They no longer have to lug bulky and heavy groceries home from the supermarkets or count on family members to do so. Technology also allows seniors to call for transport and meal deliveries.

During the pandemic, seniors with mobile devices used the TraceTogether app to scan entries instead of the token which needs to be replaced when the batteries run out.

Helping elderly become digitally savvy

  • Explain the benefits: Many elderly may be hesitant to use a cell phone or computer because they don’t understand the benefits. Knowing the benefits of technology may motivate them to learn more about it.
  • Be patient: A senior encountering technology for the first time will take some time to pick it up. Being patient with seniors is crucial to helping them learn. You can act as a guide – answering questions and showing them the easiest way to accomplish a task.
  • Use simple language: One way to help seniors learn technology is to explain technology concepts in simple language. Some seniors do not understand terms such as “web browser,” and “cookies”.  Such jargon confuses them and keeps them from picking up technology.
  • Do it in stages: Some seniors are not likely to be able to pick up everything at one go. Teach them a little at a time as going slow helps them better remember what they have learned and allows them to integrate digital devices into their lives slowly.
  • Security: Protect your seniors’ devices with anti-virus software and check on their devices often to make sure security fixes are up to date. Explain how online scams work and how they can stay safe online in an easy to understand manner.

As more activities of daily life such as shopping and healthcare go online, seniors need the support from their families and the community to get on the digital bandwagon.

Learn more about Western Silvercare (locally known as ‘Jin Jia Ho! Bagus!’), is a community screening, prevention and active ageing programme initiated by St Luke’s Hospital to help Bukit Batok residents aged 60 and above to be healthy, physically, mentally and socially.

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