Learning new skills helps seniors to maintain cognitive abilities such as problem-solving. Since most adults aged 65+ did not grow up utilizing technology, it is not something that many senior-aged people feel is necessary for them. Nevertheless, the gap in digital device use between the 18-29 year old age demographic and adults aged 65+ has closed by 53 percentage points since 2012, per the Pew Research Center. At least six in 10 adults aged 65+ now utilize the Internet to acquire some type of information. Assisted living facilities, rehab centers, and nursing homes can aid senior-aged people to preserve mental faculties and reduce symptoms of depression and/or anxiety by improving senior-oriented tech device understanding. 

Why senior-aged adults have difficulty learning to utilize technology

The language of technology is unfamiliar to many older-aged adults, so tech support instructions that make sense to a younger adult can sound like gibberish to an elderly person. Even telling a senior-aged person to click on an “icon” on the computer screen can make utterly no sense, as this is not the definition of that word in the dictionary of their childhoods. Therefore, online instructions to aid technology learning can be totally ineffective. Instead, a person teaching hardware and/or software skills on a one-to-one (or small group) basis works best for older-aged adults.  

Providing “in-person” training and classes is just one way to boost interest in age-tech adoption, as family members and senior care facility employees may also be able to teach the older-aged person some desired tech skills. By increasing the size of fonts (so that the senior using the tech device can more easily see what is on the screen) and enabling voice-activation, the common problems of decreased eyesight and arthritic fingers to manipulate a tech device can be greatly minimized.  

Findings published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2017 revealed that lack of guidance plus lack of confidence and/or feelings of inadequacy were key reasons for seniors’ disinterest in using digital devices.  

Enabling seniors to utilize videoconferencing for clinician visits

Socialization and communication with others are a strong motivator for elderly people to learn to utilize videoconferencing software on digital devices. However, another motivator is reducing the need for travel to an office appointment with a physician (or other clinician) through the utilization of videoconferencing software on a digital device to participate in a “telehealth” visit. According to Fierce Healthcare, telehealth utilization has increased by 340% among Medicare-eligible senior-aged adults since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. One major reason is that it decreased the likelihood of contracting Covid-19 (or some other respiratory infection) in the physician’s office or hospital setting. 

For a senior care facility to appear attractive to a person aged 65+ in comparison to some other facility, demonstrating a willingness to aid seniors in acquiring and learning technological devices can be an important factor. Loss of former mobility and/or symptoms of dementia are major reasons that elderly people (and their family members) choose to relocate to assisted living facilities and other senior care facilities. Consequently, senior care facilities that offer computer rooms, tech-related classes, and the ability to engage in a telehealth visit with an on-site clinician are more appealing to elderly people than ever before.  

The Population Research Bureau estimates that nine million senior-aged adults in the US will be living with dementia by 2030, and 12 million by 2040. Many of them will require placement in a senior care facility, so embracing the utilization of technology by seniors can aid them in remaining as functional in their usual daily living activities as possible. 

Ōmcare provides technology solutions for both consumers and providers, and inclusive of senior care facilities.