Elderly people aren’t just knitting sweaters and baking cookies for the grandkids anymore. The window for what is elderly has widened in recent years as people have started living longer, and older people have stayed more active. Many people of retirement age continue working anyway, while others have availed themselves of retirement plans or Social Security Benefits that leave them on fixed incomes.
In today’s world, being elderly means something different than what many of our own grandparents experienced, and a lot of these changes have had to do with the Internet. Many of the older adults who are now considered elderly were the pioneers of the first home use of the Internet. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 forced a lot of people online to make up for social distancing, but many elders were online well before that.
Many people who are just now considered retirement age have been using the Internet for over a decade as online services have been incorporated into the business sector. Others retired just as the first social media and online entertainment was becoming popular, leaving them plenty of time to explore what the Internet had to offer and how it has changed.
A hallmark of retiring from full-time employment is the learning of new skills and hobbies, and the Internet has provided a myriad of resources for learning from home, even in informal settings. Some people have retired from jobs only to turn their hobbies into lucrative second careers.
Another trend that has become popular for seniors has been called “aging in place.” This means remaining at home and receiving any necessary health services there instead of in an assisted living facility. Until the Internet began providing services that delivered necessary goods, many elders had to rely on family or hired help in order to age in place.
The Internet has relieved a lot of this, allowing more elderly people to stay home and take advantage of services such as grocery and prescription delivery, telemedicine, scheduling appointments, requesting house calls, and a myriad of other everyday services. With the increased autonomy the Internet allows the elderly, aging in place has become simpler, even when family might be in another town or state.
Smart technology has only enhanced this by enabling healthcare workers to remotely monitor patients aging in place. Plus, elders with smart technology in their homes can manage their daily lives mostly remotely, through voice activation of necessities such as lights, thermostats and appliances. Smart technology can also enhance independent senior living by allowing elders to contact family or emergency services should they require assistance, all without having to have a phone nearby.
Aging is complicated. While it comes with the benefit of accumulated wisdom and perhaps retirement time to enjoy it, aging also comes with increased health risks and responsibilities of its own. The Internet provides a gateway for seniors to make their golden years comfortable and enjoyable while also looking out for their health and staying safe. Even seniors with health complications can enjoy the independence the Internet provides.
Increasingly, everything is going online. It’s hard to find paper applications anymore, because the Internet allows people to fill out forms from the privacy of their own homes. For seniors, this includes Social Security, Disability, and Supplemental Security Income. Low-income households, which includes many seniors, also need Internet access to apply for public housing and food stamps in many states.
Senior services on the Internet are not limited to applications for assistance and benefits, though. Professional health care can be arranged online with remote doctor visits and remote nursing. Everything about these services can be managed online and non-emergency medical visits don’t have to mean leaving home.
Some important websites for seniors include:
Seniors can fill their pharmaceutical needs online and have prescriptions delivered right to their door from a variety of pharmacies and services. Like telemedicine, this saves them from making a lot of unnecessary trips that might carry risks, especially during flu season.
However, online shopping includes just about anything you can buy online, not just prescriptions. Many grocery stores either contract with delivery services such as Instacart or offer their own shopping and delivery services, saving seniors time and risk. Online marketplaces like Amazon offer a wide variety of goods and services, from brand-name items to specialty foods to foreign products.
Many major stores, from package stores like Walmart and Costco, to specialty stores like JoAnne’s Fabrics or Bass Pro Shops, have online carts where you can order for in-store or at-home delivery.
Seniors can also read books and magazines digitally by ordering online, but for those who prefer the feel of paper, users can begin or renew subscriptions online. Other subscriptions that can be ordered or managed online include cell phone and Internet connections, streaming and cable TV services, and financial and banking products.
Getting older means having more family. Everyone around you is aging, too, which means your friends are having their own experiences as seniors, but time and other factors may have moved them far from you. Family is also getting older, so those people who were the children in your life might have children of their own for you to rejoice in.
The Internet allows us all to keep in touch with friends and family in unprecedented ways. Some people have built their entire social network around people they know online as technology has improved to make video chat a cell phone feature. For many seniors, apps like Skype and Zoom bring distant family right into the living room.
Online security is a top priority for everyone, but seniors are especially vulnerable because of the very things that make the Internet such a great thing for them to have. Applying for benefits, using credit card and personal information for shopping, and even refilling prescriptions online can all be vulnerable to hackers if proper precautions are not taken.
One of the easiest ways for seniors to accomplish this is through the use of a password manager. A password manager is an application, a small program that fulfills a complex function. In this case, the app creates encrypted passwords for every online account a user has. This way, users only have to remember one password, and the password manager generates all other passwords using character combinations that are harder for hackers to break.
Two-factor authentication means that when a user logs into a website, it sends an email or text message with a code. This ensures that only users with access to the second factor can log in. Many institutions, such as banks and utility companies, have this as an option, and some even require it, such as schools and certain types of workplaces.
If you are a senior and new to the Internet, though, you don’t have to be so tech savvy to be secure online. Several Internet service providers have security either built into their packages or have affordable add-ons that provide protection from viruses, scams, identity theft and more. Packages and add-ons like these can be augmented with password managers and two-factor authentication, or they can be used by themselves.
It’s not hard to find fast, reliable, low-cost Internet service. It just takes a little shopping around to find the best deals. Some service providers have Internet plans specifically for seniors, and sometimes high speed Internet for seniors can be subsidized by the local or federal government.
Even seniors who already have Internet service can benefit from shopping around and comparing available plans and rates, just to be sure they’re getting everything they need out of their Internet plan, whether that is speed, security, accessibility or customer service. With just one click or phone call to [888-555-5555], you can compare the plans and rates of all the providers who service your area. It’s that simple to find out if you’re getting the Internet you need at a price you can afford!