WeCare Home Assistants helps seniors stay in their homes while keeping them connected to other people and activities. One helpful method to achieve this has been through the use of computers. Rather than encourage passive activities, such as watching TV, the computer’s interactive nature provides stimulus and socialization opportunities. There is still some resistance to learning a new method of communication, but to offset having to learn a few new words, computers get easier to set up and learn (and cheaper, too) with each passing year. Computer users are no longer required to study a manual or be a computer whiz to “get online.”
A 2009 Nielsen Ratings study shows that more seniors than ever are getting their first computer to take advantage of the internet. Part of the influence comes from younger family members, but the biggest factor is the availability of online resources geared to senior users. The Nielsen study ranks the following top 10 online activities by users 65+:
- Viewing/printing maps
- Checking weather
- Viewing/paying bills and checking bank statements
- Viewing/posting photos
- Reading general news
- Researching healthcare
- Planning leisure travel trips
- Planning meals, searching recipes
- Reading business/financial news
At the top of the list is emailing. For instance, WeCare Home Assistants has a client who came home from a rehab facility after suffering a stroke. Speech was difficult, if not impossible, and she had lost use of her right hand. Communication was a struggle. On top of that, she wanted to talk to her 92-year-old brother in southern California to personally let him know she was OK. Her children got them both computers and now they’re happily emailing each other on a daily basis.
There are more uses for the internet than you can imagine. Hundreds, if not thousands, of websites exist to explore any topic, most at no cost. For instance, if a person interested in gardening uses the Google search engine to look for “gardening website,” it will reveal an intimidating tens of thousands of entries, but sticking to the first five to ten websites will keep the user from getting overwhelmed.
Some other popular internet activities for seniors include:
- Playing online games (be warned, games can be just as addictive to seniors as they are to teenagers!).
- Viewing videos (YouTube.com has replaced Funniest Home Videos!).
- Reconnecting with family and friends (Classmates.com and Reunion.com are the top two sites).
- Social networking (sites geared to mature users tend to be less superficial and have a more grounded community).
- Listening to music (Pandora.com is a genre-specific radio station controlled by the user).
- The list goes on…