Over-70s get tech-savvy to stay in touch
SENIORS aged over 70 are more tech-savvy than they have been given credit for.
The Connectivity Report, commissioned by home care provider Care Connect, has found about one-third of over-70s surveyed were regularly active on social media and more than half frequently banked online.
It showed a large proportion of over-70s using technology to maintain their independence, stay connected with family, friends and the community, and remain at home.
Care Connect CEO Paul Ostrowski said technology was helping to reduce feelings of social isolation.
"There is compelling evidence that indicates the effects of social isolation are comparable with smoking and other risk factors (including obesity, lack of physical activity) and can influence a person's life expectancy (Holt-Lundstad et al 2010)," he said.
"With our research indicating older Australians being more tech-savvy than we thought and eager to learn more, the aged care sector should be considering technology as a way to connect their clients with their communities.
"The research shows that at least one-quarter of older Australians have close family living interstate or overseas, with over half surveyed noting general concern about staying connected with their family and friends."
Hilary and Rod Mellis, aged 66 and 74 respectively, highlight how technology helps them connect with their community, opening them up to social events and new friends within the local area, and allowing others to keep their independence.
"Before my husband learnt about the basics of technology through Care Connect, we weren't really involved with the local community," Hillary said.
"Now we're able to keep up to date with what's going on in the area and attend community events."
She said she friend who could no longer drive used the internet to buy her groceries.
"They arrive at her door. Without the internet she would have to rely on someone to help her," Hillary said.
Buying groceries online was not something Seniors did a lot of, with only 4% saying they used this method regularly.
However 99% had searched for information at some time online, and 64% did so regularly.
Online shopping was another area which Seniors hadn't really embraced, with a large number having made a purchase at some point, but only 14% using it regularly, while online phones and video calls were a rarity, as was online gambling.
Hilary, who recently attended a workshop to learn more about smartphones, said keeping up-to-date with technology also helped Seniors connect with their grandchildren and the younger generation, sharing photos and communicating on Facebook.
"Whilst older Australians may not be early adopters, they are keen to learn," Paul said.
"They have the time to expand their new technology repertoire, as well as develop their knowledge of what the platforms they currently use can do".
"At Care Connect, our goal is to support people living happily at home for life, and technology is such an integral part of that ..."