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Seniors Find Tech More to Their Liking in Today's World

For many seniors it’s the same old story that has not aged well. Your “experience” shows you have seen and done many things, which means you are ancient.


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James L Katzaman

2 months ago | 4 min read
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Age is just a number for those who want greater equality

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

For many seniors it’s the same old story that has not aged well. Your “experience” shows you have seen and done many things, which means you are ancient.

That might be a good thing when young people seek advice from those with wisdom. Conversely, a job application might not go well when a screener reads “experienced” and sees “old.”

“At 58, I am pretty much a senior,” said Warren Laine-Nadia. “My father is 20 years older. Who is the senior? As we live into our 90s it’s become a meaningless term. ‘Toddlers’ is still a meaningful age group, as are ‘teens’ — but ‘seniors?’”

Laine-Naida has earned his senior credentials. A web generalist and teacher, for 25 years he has built websites and taught marketing and digital literary. He works with nonprofits, schools and small businesses.

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He talked about the senior use of technology with social media manager and author Carol Stephen.

“Technically, a senior is 62 years old, according to the U.S. government,” Stephen said. “Personally, I think being a senior is more a state of mind.

“It’s an attitude,” she said. “Some younger people say they’re old when they’re in their 30s or 40s. Plus, a lot of the words and phrases for being seniors are terrible: golden years.”

Seniors have varied encounters with technology.

“This depends on two things: work experience and finances,” Laine-Naida said. “I see two distinct groups of ‘seniors.’ There are those with money and experience using tech, and those without who are marginalized.

“This is no different than any other age group,” he said.

Tech Smart at Any Age

Types of experience also affect technology use.

“All the seniors I met in Japan were incredibly savvy with their phones,” Stephen said. “The octogenarians would whip out their phones for selfies.”

Likewise, many seniors are comfortable when using the internet.

“Aside from work-related reasons, they want the same things for which we all use tech,” Laine-Naida said. “They look for social, health, information and learning.

“Making life easier is at the heart of seniors’ use of tech,” he said. “At the top of the list are connections, healthcare and smart home solutions.”

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Ageism manifests itself in cutting and poignant ways.

“My children think I grew up in the 1800s,” Laine-Naida said. “It’s ironic that I can build a website while they can only use a website. It’s the same with computer games.

“Getting a job after 50, in my circle, is impossible,” he said. “However, I do not yet qualify for senior’s portions at restaurants.”

Stephen recalled a TED Talk by Ashton Applewhite, who wrote “This Chair Rocks,” a manifesto against ageism.

“She’s wonderful and will make you think about aging in a different way,” Stephen said. “She’s thoughtful and hopeful.”

Seniors use technology in their work lives just like everyone else.

“It’s less so perhaps for social media,” Laine-Naida said. “It’s hard to say, being an old person in a ‘young person’s job.’ The great David McCullough used a typewriter until his dying day.”

Not the Promised Answer

Seniors might struggle with tech, but circumstances vary.

“Which tech? Computer games or smart homes?” Laine-Naida asked. “I think they have the same struggles as younger people.

“Tech is not as inclusive as it is sold to be,” he said. “It requires money and access to resources. The elderly may not have those resources.”

Also, most victims of cyber attacks are seniors.

“Sadly, yes,” Stephen said. “That could be another class for seniors: How to protect yourself against cyber crimes.”

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Seniors can gain special benefits from using technology.

“Tech reduces physical boundaries, which for seniors is an advantage — as it is for non-seniors,” Laine-Naida said. “There’s the ability to treat disease and where necessary to prolong life. They can recapture lost things and be enabled physically and mentally.”

Stephen noted better healthcare, news and social interactions.

“It’s basically the same benefits everyone else enjoys,” she said. “Maybe lessons in how to use search engines could be a good class for seniors. I’m thinking of teaching a class at the local senior center — that could work.

“During the pandemic seniors learned about Zooms and meeting people through mutual interests and hobbies,” she said.

Along the way, technology could help seniors gain more freedom.

“It can help remove physical and mental boundaries,” Laine-Naida said. “This may, however, be dependent on financial resources, location and other opportunities. Freedom is a funny word.”

More Ways to Connect

Socially, seniors might have more interactions using technology.

“Social media allows anyone the chance to connect with friends and family regardless of their physical location,” Laine-Naida said. “This is an amazing advantage over seniors 30 years ago.

“Also, seniors might have physical opportunities offered through the added mobility of e-transport,” he said.

All of these give seniors more opportunities to break away from isolation.

“Making friends is just one way seniors could have more social interactions,” Stephen said. “Getting involved in their hobbies can help anyone feel less isolated and more socially involved. Meet-ups and Zooms can help.”

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As they use technology, seniors might feel more safe and secure.

“The tech needs to match the potential audience,” Stephen said. “So, things like bigger font sizes can help.

“In the not-too-distant future we won’t even use cash,” she said. “It’s like writing a check. Whenever I have to write a check, I have to really think about it.”

In virtual and real worlds, any strengthening of senior security would be welcome.

“Knowing who is at your front door before you go to it is nice,” Laine-Naida said. “Paying bills without leaving the house with a pocket full of cash? Yes.

“But who polices technology?” Laine-Naida asked. “E-prescriptions are not yet a thing around the world. This could be ‘safer medicine’ and not just for seniors.”

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


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