Connecting in your Twilight Years: The Internet at Any Age

Don’t miss out on critical services and access to exciting new information and entertainment because you’re nervous about becoming an internet newcomer. The internet paves the way for thousands of newcomers each day, and there are plenty of resources for the speedy improvement of your digital literacy.

According to a community project dedicated to bringing accessible computer education to elderly potential internet-users, internet use can truly improve the quality of life among seniors in a wide variety of ways:

  • Healthcare Resources
  • Connectivity and Communication
  • Independence
  • Cognitive Development
  • Emotional and Psychological Well-Being

Some highly recommended places to start on-line, perhaps concurrently with enrolling in computer literacy courses offered in your local community, include:

Health Resources

The websites most empowering for seniors to conduct their own research and take a more active role in their health care decision-making include the comprehensive databases of WebMD and Mayo Clinic. But the internet can also be fundamental in keeping patients in touch with their health care providers and securing the fast and affordable delivery of sought-after medication or nutritional supplements.

Skype

The most popular form of staying in-touch with distant (or nearby) loved ones, aside from e-mail, Skype offers a free, easy-to-use software that enables real-time voice and video chat to practically anywhere in the world. Long distance calling charges, which used to prompt our kids to dial ‘Collect’ from their dorm rooms, are practically an irrelevant obstacle to internet users who regularly communicate via web platforms like Skype.

On-line Gaming

In a study soon-to-be released in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, seniors who play video games, even occasionally, report higher levels of emotional well-being. This study also shows elderly gamers to have significantly better day-to-day functioning than their non-gaming cohort.

On-line Shopping

The multitudes of on-line shopping platforms, starting from Amazon to QVC, offer the opportunity to obtain virtually any product or service delivered to your doorstep. The flexibility and low-shipping costs of on-line shopping markets allow for elderly internet users to drastically improve their self-sufficiency.

TED.com

The very latest academic, technological, and spiritual developments among global experts are all available in streaming video content on the website of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). Leading professionals spend thousands of dollars to attend specialized conferences, while the content is uploaded shortly afterwards for on-line viewing, making this web resource a virtual classroom and source of inspirational ideas that should not be missed by anyone of any age. Regular TED viewers have the best cocktail/bridge party conversations starters and keep themselves in the know on the issues that really matter to them and their families.

What’s stopping you?

If your computer or internet needs are specialized, it is important to be aware of additional accessibility options. The federal government is working through its National Telecommunications and Information Administration to bring innovative programs of across the nation addressing internet accessibility issues. There are likely projects from this initiative in your area upgrading senior center computer labs or providing digital literacy training courses. So be on the look out for such opportunities.

The expansion of broadband internet technologies makes fast internet connection speed at home more and more affordable, thus mitigating the previous barriers of high-costs. The websites recommended above can all be accessed for free via any basic internet connection. Furthermore, referring back to the recent study on the cognitive benefits of computer gaming, seniors on a budget can reap the benefits from playing free web-based games like Sudoku and Hearts without having to purchase specialized software. Though there is a growing market of websites that offer logic and cognitive development games targeted at older adults for a price (Brain Age, for example).

The bottom line remains that there are benefits abound to those who venture on-line in pursuit of meeting their personal, commercial, and health needs. Plug in and get surfing!

 

Linda Michelle is a freelance writer and occasional blogger. She currently represents an email service provider, Jangomail.