Video Chats and More: How Caregivers Link Elders to Technology
(Be sure to click on the link to a wonderful documentary related to this topic at the end of this post!)
By Leslie Eckford
Being able to have video chats with my parents is essential to me as a distant daughter. However, the technology is a huge barrier for people who have poor eyesight and muscle coordination. My parents had some experience with email and laptops in the past, but mostly now they are better at managing the TV remote. The secret solution for me and my elder parents to get together on the Internet is with the help of their tech-savvy caregivers.
According to the Pew Research Center, older Americans not only want to be more connected by Internet and smart devices, they are increasingly doing so. (See Older Adults and Technology ). There are growing numbers of classes and programs that are supporting well seniors to overcome discomfort and intimidation about going online and exploring the web (See Easier Tech for Older People to Use). And, its working: Those seniors who have smart phones and access to the Internet report feeling a freedom with their devices and say that they have greater connection with their families and can get better health information (Pew Research).
While making some improvements, technology has yet to catch up to bring technology that can overcome shaky hands and slowed movements. While most seniors say that they want most to use technology to communicate with family and to learn about medical conditions, 66% say that they would need help (Pew). Thankfully, the younger generation comes to the rescue. More and more caregivers have personal experience with their own devices. They can set up video chats, take photos and text them, and type messages to family. Many times the instant communication aids caregivers to communicate medical concerns to family or supervisors. However, for the elder client, the beauty of technology has the greatest meaning when they can see family who are far away.
In fact there is a documentary from 2014 that explores the joys and frustrations for elders learning how to use the internet and technology. Enjoy the official trailer for the Cyber Seniors Documentary here. As you watch this, imagine caregivers in the role of the teen teachers. Think of the possibilities!