This is part two of a four part series on socialization for older adults and attracting baby boomers to senior centers.
Consisting of roughly 77 million people, Baby Boomers, who are now almost entirely made up of older adults, threaten to be the largest American generation of all time. They’re highly educated, active, and turning 65 years old at a rate of 10,000 a day and, just like technology, they’re getting better with age.
While technology can be viewed as intimidating, frustrating and even intrusive to some seniors, it has been opening up a new world of possibility to others, due in large part to the many benefits. From video chat services like Skype to challenging and exciting games made accessible through tablets, technology is helping seniors to stay socially, physically, and mentally active, while keeping them connected to the people and things they care about. However, that’s just the beginning. Now, smartphones are doubling as medication alerts making it easier for patients to track dosage, home devices like the Amazon Echo are helping those with immobility to change things like room temperatures, television sets and lights, and GPS-tracked accessories are helping seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease stay safe by pinging their location.
With so many new devices, features and advancements happening today, it’s no wonder that seniors are embracing technology at a rapid rate. But as they begin to look towards their next stage of life, continued access to it will likely play a big factor on where it is they end up – which means senior centers need to offer help with technology. Hosting a class on technology, or allowing older adults to come to a senior center for help with basic questions is a great way to increase visitors to your center.
Let’s explore what some seniors centers are already doing:
Technology Centers & Wireless Internet
According to a Google study, a full one-third of Boomers describe themselves as “heavy internet users,” and 82 percent belong to at least one social media platform, which means seniors everywhere are looking for an easier way to get online and stay there. With technology centers that include computers, printers, and even Skype stations, along with the high-speed internet it takes to stay connected, more and more senior centers are answering these demands with ways to communicate with friends and family easily, and feel closer to the world around them. Many senior centers are now offering free WiFi services.
Educational Classes & Workshops
With digital training sessions on the rise in collaboration with organizations like AARP and even local companies and colleges, senior centers are opening the door - quite literally - to exciting new skills for their visitors. From smart device training on video calls and games to simple computer instruction, seniors are getting the help they need to do the things they want.
Access to Tablets & Other Devices
For seniors, portable technology is key to participation and tablets offer just that, along with a wide variety of additional benefits. With apps that can teach new languages and programs that are all about fitness to unlimited access to books, music, and other educational games, older adults have more ways than ever to stay engaged. But it goes further than entertainment. Many are bringing their tablets and devices to the senior center to share photos, games, and tips on technology.
Televisions & Games
From updated flat screen TVs providing a clearer picture to new add-ons allowing for personalized hearing adjustments, senior communities that are embracing technology in their entertainment rooms are making it easier for residents to tune in to their favorite shows. What’s more, are interactive consoles like Nintendo’s Wii, that offer fitness programs for those seeking help with rehabilitation or balance and brain teasers for seniors who want to keep their mind as active as their body.
Today's older adults are looking for social and emotional care. Luckily though, more senior centers are taking notice and viewing technology not just as a valuable tool, but as a significant source of comfort. So, by offering courses and information on technology, you can help the older adults in your community to become more engaged with their family, friends, and the world. Get the word out and let your community know that your senior center is technology friendly for Baby Boomers!