Older Americans are becoming increasingly savvy at using digital communications and technology in their day-to-day lives— from maintaining family contacts, to forming new relationships, managing medications and planning for retirement and future care. Take a look at some novel ways seniors like you are finding ways to make technology work for them.
It’s not a hearing aid… it’s my Bluetooth!
Older adults with minor hearing loss can be quite sensitive to the suggestion that a hearing aid might help them to communicate better. Some perceive it as a stigma; others just don’t want to accept the notion that they are getting older and their needs are changing. But some seniors are quietly turning to new technology to surreptitiously address those needs, while preserving their self-image.
The good folks at Sound World Solutions have produced a hearing assistance device, the CS50, that looks like (and, in fact, doubles as) a wireless Bluetooth phone headset. For people who can hear sounds, but have trouble distinguishing words from background noise, the device is a clandestine way to improve hearing, while giving off the appearance of being super tech savvy.
The CS50 works with Android or Apple smartphones, is customizable and can even stream music. So, if you’re having a little more trouble talking over dinner in restaurants these days, pop in your CS50 and chat away. People will just think you’re waiting to take an important business call.
Manage your portfolio from the comfort of home.
Remember the days when you had to go to the bank or to your stockbroker’s office to make a trade or make a change to your investment allocation? No more. Online banking and low-cost e-brokerages like Scottrade and TD Ameritrade have, in the past 15 years or so, made it easier than ever to invest in the markets and manage your money from home.
A word of caution, though: online brokerages have also made it easier than ever to lose your shirt. With convenience and bare bones financial service comes the increased risk of making under-researched or ill-advised impulse trades. Seniors who are using online money management services should be cautious about making potentially risky investment decisions on their own— especially when it comes to nest egg allocations.
For additional fees, many banks and e-brokerages do provide professional guidance and financial planning services. Or, you could spend the money to consult a certified financial planner for investment and tax advice, then save cost on the execution side by making your own trades online.
Keep close to your loved ones.
Seniors represent the fastest growing group of social media users nationwide; an estimated 43% of Americans over age 65 are now regularly using sites like Facebook or Twitter to stay in touch with family, look up old friends and keep connected to their communities. And e-mail, camera-equipped smartphones and video conferencing software like Skype are making communication faster and easier than ever before.
Seniors are even using technology to kindle new passions.
For many older Americans who have lost a spouse or been through a divorce, the advance into late middle age and retirement can bring feelings of loneliness. But many dating websites, including Match.com and eHarmony are now specifically catering to the dating needs of people aged 50 and older. Even the AARP has gotten in on the act, having launched its own online dating service. Some dating sites are free; others let users post profiles for free, but may require a fee in order to unlock the user’s ability to search or respond.
Technology is making senior lifestyle easier and more rewarding than ever.
All it takes is a little patience to learn. Even the learning process can be a great opportunity to connect with others— call up the grandkids to come over and teach you how to use that new tablet! They’ll love showing you how to do something, and you’ll love the time spent together.