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Tech-Savvy Grandparents: No Longer an Oxymoron

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenMarch 29, 2012

While many people think that the silver-haired generation is technologically and computer illiterate; this is simply not true. Seniors of today are now catching up with their young counterparts and are mastering the world of technology.

The days of having to change the desktop picture on your grandma’s computer screen or show her how to use her new smartphone are over. Well, kind of. Some grandparents are more tech-savvy than others. BUT the trend is that many seniors are wanting to keep up with the latest technology. After all, we’re talking about the baby boomer generation here—a generation that changed America with their drive, voice and political ambitions.

Video Games, Computers and iPhones, Oh My!

We have learned that staying active in the community and with your family, as well as, keeping mentally stimulated through cognitive exercises, can contribute to a more sound mind and body. While the fountain of youth is not an option, playing card or video games and reading books, as well as using computer programs, such as Skype, to communicate with loved ones, not only helps to keep you informed and social—it also helps you stay more youthful. In fact, many retirement and assisted living communities find that video games and computers are no longer foreign to incoming residents. This makes sense as these baby boomers were active participators in the Tech-boom.

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Even the older residents who were not as familiar with the influx of technology find enjoyment and socialization satisfaction through computers and gaming. “Video games, like the Nintendo Wii, have gained popularity in assisted living facilities as each a form of entertainment and exercise. They are great to keep the seniors active and stimulated,” according to senior researcher, Robert Jones. We also recently learned that War of Warcraft is enjoyed by many senior citizens, and has even proven to help with their cognitive health (See: Why World of Warcraft Should be Your Grandma’s Video Game).

Many Schools Now Offering Senior Programs

To enhance golden years’ enjoyment and communication, many universities and schools are teaching seniors computer skill and programs. Seniors want to “catch up with a technical world whose rapid-fire evolution has left much of America’s oldest generation isolated from its children, grandchildren and tech-savvy friends,” according to New York’s Pace University—a university that offers senior tutorials on how to keep up with a world of PCs, iPads, smartphones, and more. “Let’s face it — 20% of the population is going to be over 65 by 2050,” said Jean Coppola, a gerontologist and information technology professor at Pace who started the program after officials in Westchester County, north of New York City, asked the university to conduct a computer seminar for senior citizens. Seniors have time to learn things. Offering technological programs and stimulation only makes sense.

Catered Apps and Computers for the Older Generation

Technology has a lot to offer the older generations. For example, there are touchscreen computers to help with easy, kind-to-your-joints navigation, and Kindles with enlarged font options for reading. Many apps, like Dragon Dictation and FixMyStreet have also been catered to the senior generation.

So if you’re thinking about giving your grandma lemon drops and yarn—feel free to do so. But also consider how technology may enhance your aging parents’ or grandparents’ life.

The Telikin touchscreen computer was created specifically for senior citizens. CBS talks with a representative from Telikin to discuss the computer’s benefits to senior citizens:

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