The image of the senior wearing cheaters and poking clumsily at a smartphone is prevalent in the media, but it’s part of a broad misconception. Though baby boomers aren’t “digital natives” like the so-called Zoomers, evidence suggests they use technology about as much as millennials do, just in different ways.
Many technologies aren’t designed with seniors in mind, and this oversight can make shiny gadgets inaccessible. Luckily, not all products are created equally, and there’s still plenty out there for even the most paper-loving boomers to take up. Here are seven modern technologies that baby boomers are embracing.
Computers and laptops
When baby boomers were growing up, NASA was just replacing the last human computers with machines. In the few decades since then, computing technology has gone from building-size calculating machines to supercomputers that fit on a desk with room to spare.
That rate of change may sound dizzying, but it hasn’t stopped baby boomers from staying connected. Though many modern computers and laptops are inaccessible, with small print and unintuitive features, the market has stepped up for seniors. Senior-specific designs like The Wow Computer are made with touchscreens and a simplified user interface to make surfing the Web easier for golden-agers.
Tablets and e-readers
Though there’s tension between the digital and traditional publishing industries, one thing is for sure: books aren’t going anywhere. For seniors, books and media are areas where technology steps up. E-readers condense entire libraries’ worth of printed books into the palm of your hand, and digital bookstores are such that you don’t even need to leave the house to read a new release or an old favorite. What’s more, many E-readers are designed to mimic the look of paper, making them an easier transition for older generations.
More high-tech tablet options offer magazines, movies, music, email, and more. Tablet home pages are also usually customizable, so baby boomers can cut the fluff out of their user experience by deleting apps that they don’t use. Tablets and e-readers come equipped with accessibility settings that allow users to toggle the size of words and icons, so you might not even need your glasses to get reading.
Did you know that baby boomers are the fastest-growing demographic on social media? It’s easy to imagine why. For seniors with limited mobility or who live in different states than their children or grandchildren, there’s no better way to stay in touch than to use social media. Social media usage also means a whole world of digital news and culture to which baby boomers now have equal access.
Smart home devices
For retirees or those aging in place, so-called “smart” home devices can be a game-changer. Smart devices can do almost anything: locking front doors, turning on and off lights, playing music, making phone calls, and so on. These features are particularly beneficial for those with mobility impairments, as they’re voice or smartphone-activated. Many home devices like Alexa can essentially double as a digital assistant, making them perfect for medication and other reminders.
Digital home healthcare
It’s a fact of life that healthcare needs usually increase with age. Luckily for those in their golden years, this is yet another area of life that technology can simplify.
For example, glucose monitors for diabetes can now affix directly to the skin and interface with an app to tell you your blood sugar and even dispense insulin at any time. This technology can be applied to other metrics, like heart rate, and even remotely distributed to healthcare providers, ensuring that seniors can stay in their own homes for longer. Smartphone apps and digital assistants are great for setting medication or exercise reminders.
Seniors can also benefit from fitness trackers that encourage people to stay active and provide insights into heart behavior and sleep patterns.
If you’re not smartphone or app-averse, you can also use technology to track your own health records and health insurance information. Reach out to your healthcare or insurance provider for more details about what kind of web or app portals they provide to patients.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned the value of technology like video calls. Those above the age of 50 often have weakened immune systems, meaning they were especially vulnerable to the pandemic and the need to quarantine. Even during normal times, seniors aging in place may have difficulty leaving the house to visit friends and family, especially if they live far away.
Video calling cuts through this barrier by allowing families to speak face-to-face regardless of distance. Unlike social media, video calling is better at replicating the conversation that we have in person. By hopping on Zoom or FaceTime, baby boomers can chat with their grandchildren and reconnect with their friends.
Flatscreen and other smart TVs
There’s certainly a lot of “smart” technology on the list and for a good reason. These products are designed to be ultra-connected and ultra-user friendly. In other words, perfect for someone who isn’t fluent in technology. Like e-readers, smart TVs allow seniors to access a wealth of media content directly from their homes.
What’s more, smart TVs can interface with other apps or even home devices to make them as integrated as possible. Most smart TVs come with voice command capabilities, so you don’t have to worry about squinting at letters on the screen. Just tell the remote what you want to see, and the machine handles the rest.
Digital media libraries like Netflix or Amazon Prime offer limitless options for consumers, and smart TVs have these apps built-in. Baby boomers can watch golden-age Hollywood classics, old Westerns, new dramas, or animated movies for the grandkids at their convenience. For more info on how to access Amazon prime visit VPNCompass guide for Amazon Prime
Just because someone is born in the past doesn’t mean they live in the past. Though baby boomers aren’t “digital natives” like their younger counterparts, living through the rapid expansion of technology makes them more adaptable to change than most. Baby boomers are here to stay, and they’ve proven their willingness and excitement to keep connected. These technologies are where golden years meet silicon valleys.