Monday, March 23, 2020
Social distancing has become the new normal with the rise of COVID-19, but many older Americans may not be comfortable with digital devices. Approximately one-third of those 65 and older may have never used the internet and may not have internet access at home, and half of those that do have the internet need help to navigate it or set up a new device. As the virus spreads, so can loneliness, especially for the elderly who cannot or do not know how to take advantage of socializing through today’s digital age.
Here are five tips to help older adults stay connected through technology:
- Most older adults have a smart phone, personal computer, or tablet, they may just not have the hardware – such as a microphone or speakers, or the software – such as an essential update, to get connected to others.
- Games or programs such as bridge, chess, or mah-jong may help older individuals to ward off isolation, but need help downloading them. They may also need assistance in creating profiles on social media sites.
- There are vast amounts of applications with the intention of keeping people connected, and more seemingly being created every day, but elders may just need a guiding hand. This is also a great way for kids to bond with grandparents, and to build up children’s confidence.
- Elder financial abuse is rampant, so staying vigilant and explaining to older individuals the ins and outs of these scams are highly important as they spend more time on their devices.
- For those that do not have the internet, staying connected through a land-line but seem antiquated, but it is a viable option. Family members can arrange a schedule of who will call, and maybe, during those calls, even talk about connecting through the internet.
See Naomi Cahn, Five Tips to Decrease Social Isolation for Older People During COVID-19, Forbes, March 18, 2020.