According to the Pew Research Center, Internet use among those 65 and older grew 150 percent between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Furthermore, their 2012 study showed that of those that go online, 71 percent do so daily and 34 percent use social media.
This bridge to the outside world is important once the elderly become homebound. Seniors have discovered that Skyping is a great way to bring relatives from faraway destinations right into their living rooms. Twitter has become popular for keying into specific news sections they want to follow.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ are used by our Super Seniors for health information and to connect with others experiencing the same challenges. They have recognized that others in their same stage in life are also online and have used it to start discussion groups for life and health issues pertinent to them. From dementia to depression to diabetes — all can give and receive support in the comfort and convenience of their home.
Computer classes at senior centers are growing in popularity. Classes on computer basics as well as instruction in using email and other social media platforms such as Facebook have become more common. Actually, DorotUSA.org has a whole program called University Without Walls specifically designed for seniors who are homebound where they get to participate in stimulating classes and lectures through their computer or tablet. Local AARP chapters also offer computer basics classes and sometimes partner with vendors for discounts on the hardware.
My mother-in-law is a super senior and ever since she discovered the WhatsApp, we have basically lost her to her newly found technology, just like we lost our moms during Novela season. She has been able to rekindle with her childhood friends and family members that she has not seen or heard from in over 20 years. There is a new found sense to her daily routine. Her friends and family send her inspirational messages, the grandkids send her pictures, now she is in the know. It’s great to see how excited she gets when her app pings her with new messages, images, news and updates from across the globe. Here’s a list of the top mobile apps every super senior should download today.
The whatsapp application is a freeware and cross-platform instant messaging service for smartphones. It uses the Internet to make voice calls, one to one video calls; send text messages, images, videos, documents, user location, audio files, phone contacts and voice notes to other users using standard cellular mobile numbers. All data are end-to-end encrypted. It also incorporates a feature called Status, which allows users to upload photos and videos to a 24-hours-lifetime feed that, by default, are visible to all contacts,
The app allows you to message your friends and family for free. WhatsApp uses your phone’s Internet connection to send messages so you can avoid SMS fees. Keep in touch with the groups of people that matter the most, like your family or coworkers. With group chats, you can share messages, photos, and videos with up to 256 people at once. You can also name your group, mute or customize notifications, and more.
You heard it from me, if you are ready to lose mom and dad at the dinner table like a teen, set them up with whatsapp.
In Case of Emergency – SOS QR from Humetrix – Anyone can have an accident or suffer a medical emergency. This app allows you to store important medical and personal contact data that can be read by an Emergency Medical Technician with a QR code scanner. Once someone accesses the QR code on the lock page of your phone, your emergency contacts will automatically be notified and provided with the location of your emergency. It also has an SOS button that will call an emergency contact and send emails to your other contacts. If you are traveling overseas, it automatically translates your information into the local language. It’s available for both iOS and Android, and will also run on Apple Watch. The basic app is free, while premium services cost $10.
Closest Emergency Medical Facilities
EMNet findER is a medical emergency can happen anywhere. It’s always frightening, especially if you are away from home. There are a host of geographically based hospital locators out there. One of the most comprehensive national directories is put together by Massachusetts General Hospital. EMNet FindER is available for both Android and iOS and it’s free.
Medical Issues – iTriage
As we age, lots of things can start going wrong. Sometimes they are minor, at other times serious. iTriage is a comprehensive app that’s free for both iOS and Android that will give you an idea of what might be wrong based on your symptoms and what you might want to do about it. It’s not quite like having a doctor in your pocket, but it will point you in the right direction, including to doctors and care facilities.
Navigation – Waze Traffic
Getting there is not half as fun if you’re stuck in traffic. Waze will help you find ways around it. Owned by Google, it does a great job of informing you about current traffic conditions and alternate routes. We’ve found it more timely and accurate than the information often provided by the live traffic feeds offered by the in-car navigation systems. That’s because it gathers data from people who are stuck in traffic in real time. It’s free and available for both iOS and Android
There you have it! Top 5 Apps for the Super Senior in your life.