Technology has come a long way over the last 20 years or so. For example, the internet has opened up so many doors for people of all ages, making it easier for everyone to shop, work, and learn. Most young people find it easy to use modern technology because they have grown up using it. Older people, on the other hand, are generally less inclined to use modern technology. Some older people might not see the ways technology could benefit them, especially if they've never used the internet or a smartphone before.
However, since the pandemic began, we've all become a lot more reliant on technology to communicate with our loved ones. In this blog post, we'll look at some examples of technology that can help older people. We'll be explaining how each piece of technology works and the benefits it can offer you. This is our simple guide to technology for elderly people in the UK.
Are Older People Using New Technology?
Older people are embracing modern technology more than ever before. In fact, according to recent research, 77% of over-65s used the internet at home in 2020. According to the same findings, recent internet use among women aged 75 and over had more than doubled since 2011.
Recent internet use in the 65-74 age group has increased from 52% in 2011 to 83% in 2019, which means older people are closing the generation gap in technology usage. Older people aren't just using their computers either. They're branching out into mobile phones and tablets too.
According to Ofcom's Adults' Media Use and Attitudes report 2018, more than a quarter (28%) of people over the age of 75 now use tablets - an increase of 15% from 2015. The 2020 report found that 21% of over-75s have a social media account. The majority of older people favour Facebook as their social media platform of choice.
Although these reports are promising, there are still plenty of older people who feel intimidated by technology. We believe there is plenty more to be done to help boost these numbers even further. Technology classes designed specifically for older people are a great start. It's important that older people are able to pick up new technology at their own pace with whatever support they may need, rather than just assuming that everybody knows how to use it all already.
When it comes to modern technology for older people, the internet might seem like a daunting place to start. However, an understanding of the internet can make such a difference to your life. The worldwide web is still relatively young, which means older people haven't had the chance to grow up with it the way younger generations have.
The BBC Web Wise website defines the internet as:
"A network of computers that works much like the postal system, only at sub-second speeds. Just as the postal service enables people to send one another envelopes containing messages, the internet enables computers to send one another small packets of digital data."
The internet opens up a whole range of opportunities for older people. With an internet connection you can:
- Order your weekly shop to your front door.
- Video chat with your friends and family.
- Share updates and photographs on social media websites.
- Play games with friends - keeping your brain active in the process.
- Organise your bills and bank accounts.
- Watch TV shows and movies through streaming services.
The possibilities are endless. The internet can help to prevent boredom, keep you connected with friends and family, and help you to stay organised. To make the most of your internet connection, it's worth checking your current broadband speed. A faster connection will let you see videos and images in better quality. It will also reduce the time you spend waiting for web pages to load. Broadband UK has a free internet speed test - if you want to use the internet to download music, films, or television shows, you'll want a speedier connection. So-called superfast broadband gives you around 30Mbps (megabytes per second) or higher.
Some older people have concerns about the security of the internet. While it is definitely wise to keep security in mind, this shouldn't be a barrier to the worldwide web. For more information, read our guide to internet safety here.
Although teenagers and young people are the most common users of mobile phones, it would be wrong to assume that older people don't use them too. In fact, 65% of over-65s in the UK personally use a smartphone, according to a 2021 survey.
Mobile phone technology is becoming more important for older people as society moves away from traditional landline phone connections. Despite what you may assume, mobile phones and smartphones need not be complicated.
If you don't want all the bells and whistles of high-tech smartphones, go for a simple handset like a Doro. There are plenty of devices that have been designed specifically for elderly people. The most common type is the big button phone. There's nothing fancy about these phones. They have big buttons, making them easier to use for people with arthritis or sight issues, and clear bright screens with big font sizes. Other simple mobiles include useful accessories such as a torch.
On the other hand, if you're looking to make the most of modern technology, it may be worth buying a smartphone. These devices allow you to download a range of great apps to help you stay safe, entertained, and connected to your friends and family. 'App' is short for application, which is a kind of computer program. Essentially, apps give people access to information or games without having to visit a website. This makes the process simpler and quicker.
Examples of helpful mobile phone apps include:
- Zoom - A video calling app that makes it easier to see your children, grandchildren, or loved ones no matter where they are around the world. The app is free to download and works using your mobile phone's data or Wi-Fi.
- what3words - Gives every location on earth a unique three-word address. Great for emergencies, if you need to tell emergency services precisely where you are.
- Pill Reminder Pro - An app that will sound an alert when it's time to take your medication. It will also tell you which medication you should be taking at this time.
- Pocket Physio - Developed by Care UK, this app gives advice on the workouts you should be doing to keep yourself fit and healthy.
- Various Games - Challenging games to help keep your brain active, which helps to delay the onset of dementia. Search for crosswords, sudoku, and lots of creative new puzzles.
Your family or friends will certainly be happy to teach you how to get to grips with a smartphone. There are also online guides to help you understand your new phone. Have a quick search on Google or YouTube to find helpful tutorials. To ensure you stay safe with your new device, please see our guide to preventing mobile phone scams.
Since the launch of the iPad in 2010, touchscreen tablets have become very common in UK households. Tablets are essentially a midpoint between laptops and mobile phones. They have been designed so that you can pick them up and surf the internet in seconds. No more waiting for your laptop or PC to start. No more having to sit with a heavy laptop overheating on your knees.
Most tablets look similar to their mobile phone siblings, whether they are based on the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy. Some tablets even come with a detachable keyboard, just in case you're uncomfortable using the touch screen. You can also buy special pens to use instead of your fingers if you wish. Some of the benefits of owning a tablet include:
- Bigger Screens - Perfect if you have any vision issues.
- Amazing Apps - You can watch movies, play games, and chat with friends over a video call - all from the comfort of your sofa.
- Affordable - Tablets are generally cheaper than laptops and desktop computers.
- Great for Gaming - Through the app store you can download and play many games with your friends.
- Mobility - Tablets don't weigh much and they are a decent size, making them incredibly portable.
The software on most tablets is simple to use and to understand. In fact, if you already own a mobile phone from the same company, you probably won't even need to look at any instructions.
As we all know, staying fit and healthy is very important, no matter your age. However, staying active is especially important for older people. After all, the healthier you are, the more chance you have of avoiding common medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Modern technology can help older people here too. There are now various fitness devices that can help you monitor your daily activity and track your progress. Fitness trackers are worn around the wrist like a watch or a lifeline pendant and will monitor your activity throughout the day.
Most fitness devices can track the following:
- Daily steps.
- Calories burned.
- Heart rate.
- Sleeping patterns.
Some devices, such as the Fitbit Surge, come with GPS technology and can connect to your Android or Apple mobile phone. Some devices are also waterproof so that you can use them while swimming, with battery life ranging from three to five days.
A fitness tracker will help you from the moment you buy one, as it will give you the motivation to get out there and start adding to your steps. It is quite common for people to set up challenges with their friends and family, to see who can reach a certain target first.
We've already talked briefly about some of the apps you can download for your mobile phone and tablet. Now, let's take a closer look.
There are countless apps available on both the Android and Apple marketplace. Common types of apps include:
- News Apps - All major newspapers and TV news outlets have apps to help break news stories quicker and to help you find the news you're looking for.
- Weather Apps - It's always good to have the forecast at a click of a button.
- Games - There are so many games to choose from. Playing games will prevent boredom and help you keep your brain active.
- Social Media - Stay in touch with friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or Zoom.
- Shopping - More and more high street shops now have their own apps. This makes it even quicker to place an order without leaving home.
- Music, Film & TV - There are plenty of streaming apps to choose from. Streaming is a way of transmitting data from the internet directly onto your device without needing to download it. Popular examples include BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and Spotify.
Apps can make life much easier, but they are also great for your safety. There are many apps designed specifically to help older people stay safe at home. There are various healthcare apps that can help you manage your medication. You can set alarms that make a sound and tell you which part of your medication you need to take throughout the day.
There is a huge marketplace for health and mobility technology for older people. For example, look no further than our life-saving personal alarm systems. Our service allows older people and disabled people to continue living independently in the comfort of their own homes.
By wearing a Lifeline pendant around your neck or wrist, you are ensuring that you can get help immediately if you feel unwell or suffer a fall. Our Response Team operates 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure that help is always available.
Health monitoring can also be very reassuring for lots of older people. For example, people who have suffered from heart problems can have a heart rate and/or blood pressure monitor in their home. This piece of technology can take heart rate and blood pressure measurements so that you, your family, and your carers/doctors can check on your condition.
Some other great examples of mobility technology for older people include:
- Stairlifts - Stairlifts help you get up and down the stairs with ease, without the risk of falling. Installing a stairlift is a great way of staying safe at home.
- Scooters - Mobility scooters are great for people who struggle to walk long distances. A scooter is ideal if you have arthritis, osteoporosis, or Paget's disease of bone. Most scooters also come with a basket for you to store your shopping bags.
- Electric Wheelchairs - Alternatively you can purchase an electric wheelchair in order to get around. By having an electric wheelchair you don't have to waste energy wheeling yourself, nor do you require somebody to push you. This gives you more independence.
Technology for Older People
We hope that this blog post has opened your eyes to the technology that's out there for older people. All of the technology we've mentioned can help older people to improve their physical and mental well-being, as well as their social lives.
Apps and social media can help to prevent loneliness, whilst the internet can help make it easier to shop and to manage your bills. If you struggle with mobility, scooters and stairlifts can help ease strain on your joints and muscles.
As previously mentioned in this article, one of the bests bit of technology for older people is the Lifeline alarm system. For more information on our life-saving personal alarms, please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400.
Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 20th April 2022 to reflect the latest information.