We all agree that technology plays a key role in helping older adults and those with disabilities stay independent and socially active. For example, technology gives us the tools to remain connected with family and friends, keep in touch with the larger world through news and use the computer as a learning tool. To help our clients connect in a safe online environment, your team at West Toronto Support Services recently launched a new website and social media such as Facebook and Twitter because we truly believe in the positive power of technology. One important goal we have with our social media is to create a support network and share relevant news to keep our community up to date of important issues.
Creating a Support Network
If you already have one or two social networking accounts, you know that making friends on Facebook and Twitter makes it easier to find new friends, stay in touch with old friends, and also mobilize a support network. Internet social networks can help us quickly reach out to groups when we need it the most: dealing with illness of aging parents, caregiver fatigue, finding trusted local services, and the list goes on.
Keeping our Clients Up To Date
The truth is that Boomers are a part of one of the fastest growing demographics in terms of usage of social media and other technologies. Twitter is not just for hip, 20-somethings, but can actually be a great option for those born in 1920-something. Plus technology like smartphones and tablets that are connected to wifi make it possible to communicate, read, research and stay up to date in real time. West Toronto Support Services is committed to updating our Blog and Social Media Accounts with relevant Community and Agency News, topics include: caregiver support, fitness, health education, home maintenance, resources, adult day services, community dining, home support, respite care…and we’re waiting to hear from you on hot topics of interest.
Twitter gives you a voice!
Twitter allows the community (and our empowered clients) to comment on news, politics, social issues in real time. Think of Twitter as your “Letter to the Editor” in 140 characters or less. Twitter doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, or how much money you make, your opinion matters. Use Twitter to make your voice heard.
How to get an elderly friend or family member online?
Don’t be afraid to show others how to use these tools in ways that are valuable to them and that can benefit them in their everyday lives. Just remember that someone may be skeptical about the use of technology or may need some guidance. It’s important to be patient because the task of learning to use technology may be daunting.
Top 5 tips on technology use for older adults (Source: University of Toronto’s Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab):
1. Ask them if they’d like to learn about technology
Seniors may be interested in learning to use technology but reluctant to ask for help because they don’t want to be a burden. Encourage them to ask questions often and to learn by your example.
2. Integrate technology into their everyday routine
Seniors may develop more of an interest in technology if it relates to their lives. Introduce them to different apps and programs that can connect them to family and friends, give them access to health information, help them engage with people who have similar life challenges and provide them with mental stimulation and entertainment.
3. Show, don’t tell
Visual learning is perhaps the easiest way to pick up a new skill. Help seniors get comfortable with technology by taking the time to sit down with them and show them how it all works. Allowing tech-savvy grandchildren to play a role in the teaching process creates a great learning environment as well as family bonding time.
4. Balance online and offline activities
Technology is a great tool, but it shouldn’t be a replacement for the hobbies and activities people love to do offline. Encourage the seniors in your life to split their time healthily between online activities, outdoor recreation and face-to-face socializing.
5. Choose wisely when purchasing tech gadgets
Don’t buy technology that doesn’t fit your needs. Do your research and choose your tools carefully. Consider factors such as user-friendliness and technical support availability rather than basing your purchase solely on price or your personal preference.