NEWS & ARTICLES
Bridging the Technology Gap
in an Aging World
Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at Senior Community
Americans would say technology is essential, yet
of Minnesotans aged 65 and older still do not have
broadband internet. Technology is built into nearly
everything we use on a daily basis, yet many older
adults are unable to take advantage of its benefits.
This isn’t for lack of awareness or interest. They’re
willing to learn, but
has created barriers to equitable technology resources
and education for older adults.
Barriers in an Age-Denying World
Connecting with family
and friends, virtual doctor’s visits, online shopping
and navigating social services all come with digital
literacy expectations. For many aging adults, a
"mouse" is a furry little critter, "click" is the
sound a camera makes and "scroll" is an ancient
document. Training courses for the masses, or lessons
from well-meaning millennials and Gen Zers, often
neglect the first critical step: teaching digital
vocabulary. As with any new language, it takes time to
of U.S. adults 50 and older will be defrauded,
harassed, threatened or intimidated online. New
technology users haven’t yet learned the most common
ways scammers will engage with them to get personal
information. Different devices and apps each have
their own security options and settings. With every
system update, a folder or function may change, or a
once familiar app might look different. Providing tips
to help identify potential cyber threats and
explaining how to adjust security settings for devices
and online profiles is critical.
accessibility are also barriers for many aging adults.
Technology training courses need to be low or no cost
for those on a fixed income. Programs must be designed
to accommodate hearing, visual and mobility
impairments and offer both in-home and community-based
Bridging the Digital Divide
The greatest digital
divide is not based on income, race or level of
education; it’s age. Older adults are often
underrepresented and undervalued by our society, but
we can fight ageism by admitting our biases and
Technology Partners Program
assists older adults with signing up for affordable
internet service. Participants with limited income may
also be eligible to receive a donated digital device.
Once they have access to technology, ongoing support
and coaching helps them become familiar with and learn
how to use these tools effectively. Our digital
handypersons’ unhurried approach builds relationships
with program participants, allowing them to ask as
many questions as they need to whenever they arise.
Participants are learning to text and email loved
ones, set up grocery and prescription deliveries and
stream Netflix shows they can talk to their
Mary, age 82, was
referred to Senior Community Services a few years ago
by a neighbor after returning home from a hospital
stay. She knew she’d need extra help managing a
chronic medical condition and applied for the
Household and Outdoor Maintenance (HOME)
program services for minor home repairs and has been a
participant ever since.
Mary facilitates a
suicide loss support group and wanted to create a
Facebook page so members could interact with one
another virtually. She learned about Senior Community
Services’ Technology Partners Program and began
attending sessions at her local senior center. While
she admits she doesn’t feel very adventurous when it
comes to using new technology, Mary now uses her iPad
to navigate Facebook and manage the group page.
is Our Only Common Experience
Technology resources and
education for aging adults is something we all need to
get involved with and passionately advocate for so we
can bridge the digital divide together.
to provide one-on-one support and coaching at a senior
to help fund the purchase of devices for low-income
participants. Share this article and, if you’re a
professional working with older adults, connect them
with these services. Together, we can create
technological equality for all.
About the Author:
Deb Taylor is the CEO of
a local nonprofit with a mission to innovate and
deliver services that meet the changing needs of older
adults and their caregivers in our community, keeping
them healthy, connected and thriving.
Seniors News and Articles is
dedicated to providing seniors, family members, and
caregivers with news, tips, articles, and information
pertaining to everyday living, housing, and other
relevant issues that affect today's Seniors.
With all the options currently out there and the
changing markets, choosing the best option can be
Click Here for Past Articles
This section is dedicated to
providing seniors, family members, and caregivers with
news, tips, articles, and information pertaining to
everyday living, housing, and other relevant issues that
affect today's Seniors.