Health benefits of getting seniors online

For some tablets are swallowed with water, for others they’re a window to the digital world connecting us at the click of a button.


We now have information and technology in the palm of our hands that gives us the ability to connect in a way generations before us could never have dreamed of. 

But this amazing technology can also divide generations. 

Older people who didn’t grow up with a device in their hands may find it more difficult to adapt to modern forms of communication. But with the right device and support, technology has the potential to bring people closer together, and make life easier for all generations – old and young. 

A VicHealth study found older people with internet access generally reported better overall wellbeing than those without. It also found that although older people were the least likely group to engage with social media, they are the most likely to see health benefits from it. 

Technology was shown to have a huge impact in protecting against social isolation by helping to keep those over 65-year-old stay connected to their loved ones and the community. 

According to the findings, older Victorians who use the internet were more likely to engage with the community, socialise, and have a higher overall sense of wellbeing.

The device

These days, no one needs an IT degree to learn how to use a tablet or a smart phone. 

Your parents or grandparents may have felt overwhelmed using a computer in the past, but have they considered a tablet? It’s easy to make the print larger and the basics aren’t too tricky to get the hang of. 

You or even children in the family could offer tutorials to bring them up to speed. This is a great project to focus on, which brings people together. But remember to be patient. Start slowly and you may need to repeat yourself. It’s a good idea to write instructions for when you’re not around. 

Many local libraries also offer technology lessons to seniors, so check out if there’s one near you or your ageing loved one.

Man helping elderly woman with phone

Social media 

Studies suggest using social media has the power to help improve brain power, social activity and self esteem in older people, and may also have psychological benefits.

Popular sites like Facebook and Skype are relatively simple to use, and are a useful way to connect with each other and younger generations.

Games

If you’re unable to be with your older relative or friend in person, doing a crossword or a number puzzle together online, or playing a digital game of Scrabble or cards is a great way to connect with them. 

Games are also a great way for children and teenagers to engage with older people if they’re struggling to start or carry on a conversation. 

Words with friends: an online game of Scrabble, where you can play against friends anywhere in the world. 

Word Colors: A crossword game that allows you to compete with friends. 

Draw Something: A fun drawing and guessing game, similar to Pictionary to be played with friends. 

BrainyApp: Why not try this solo brain trainer from Alzheimer’s Australia, which has a series of games, tips and activities to help you look after your mind and heart health?

Health Apps

It’s not all fun and games, there’s also an ever-growing range of helpful health apps that can help you and your family keep track of important information that can help you better look after your health. 

Health (iOS) / Fit (Android): An easy to use app that comes with your phone to help you keep track of your key health numbers such as blood pressure, resting heart rate and weight. 

MedAdvisor: Having trouble managing your medication? This app can be a great way to remind you what to take and when, as well as when you need to get your repeat refilled or get a new prescription from the doctor, and it has helpful information on your medications as well. 

FoodSwitch: The many brand choices of packaged food at the supermarket can be overwhelming, and these products are often surprisingly high in salt, added sugar, saturated fat and kilojoules. Use the free FoodSwitch app, developed by Bupa and The George Institute, to easily find out what is in the food you’re eating and it even suggest simple, healthier switches for you, and can cater for different health needs.

A growing trend

Studies show more and more older Australians are using technology to keep in touch. While it might seem daunting at first, the benefits of connecting with those we love are tremendous. 

 A simple game of Scrabble might not seem like much to you, but it could help an older person feel closer to those they love.

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