Did you know every May dating back to President John F. Kennedy has been declared National Older Americans Month?
It is an occasion aimed at honoring the nation’s seniors and the countless contributions they have made to society and the lives of others.
National Older Americans Month is a great time for adult children of aging parents, and other family members, to give back to them.
There is no limit to what you can do, including making a meal, doing the grocery shopping, or driving them to the grocery store. There is little doubt that any step you can take to help your aging parents will be appreciated.
One important way you can especially help them this May is to patiently introduce them to the benefits of modern technology. While this assumes that they are not already well-acquainted with it, they may be less familiar with the frequent updates it would help them to know. Technology is meant to make life easier and this can hold especially true for Older Americans.
How do you get started? What should you do? Let us share five ways adult children can help an aging parent maximize their use of technology.
1. Staying in Touch. Computers, cell phones, social media, and other tech items are great for staying in touch with family and friends, especially across long distances. Adult children can help by setting up their elder parents on Facebook, for example, and showing them how to send and receive pictures on a smartphone.
2. Digital Books. Taking a Kindle or smartphone to the doctor’s office to pass waiting-room time, or anywhere else, could be enormously satisfying. It also eliminates the need for heavy books. There are an unlimited amount of digital books to choose from, and usually at a cheaper price. Do not wait to show your loved one how to use this form of technology.
3. Adjustable Fonts. Digital fonts can be easily adjusted to different styles and larger sizes, if need be. It might be an insignificant feature for those of us who do not need it, but larger font sizes can make a world of difference for seniors with diminished eyesight.
4. Smartphones. Smartphones can be convenient communication devices as well as important safety tools for Older Americans. Help aging loved ones experiment with different ringtones and volume settings for maximum comfort. Discuss with them the pros and cons of adding adaptive technology such as a safety app that could help them more easily communicate with you in a crisis.
5. Apps. Help an older parent or grandparent by finding apps that can improve his or her quality of life. For example, “MediSafe” is an app that reminds seniors which prescription medications to take, and when to take them. “Map My Walk” helps seniors track walking steps and burned calories, and provides a GPS safety feature that can help locate them from another connected digital device.
Technology can be challenging for all of us. As you look for ways to help your aging loved ones this National Older Americans month, think about ways to enhance and better the technology they currently have or need to learn. Bear in mind that the time you spend training them will be doubly valuable as they not only get to learn a new skill but also have the ability to spend time with you. As you work together to plan forward, do not wait to ask us your questions on this or any elder care issue.