By Libby Howell

For seniors feeling isolated from friends and family, technology offers an array of options to suit every preference and budget. Maintaining contact with loved ones is essential to one’s overall well-being, and older adults especially benefit from frequent opportunities to connect. Seniors who have had to stay in due to quarantine or other health concerns may long for the sight of familiar faces and the sound of familiar voices. The cost of travel, on top of health risks, may also make it harder for you to keep in touch. If you are an older adult interested in upping your tech ability so you can keep those important connections active, here are some tips for you.

Select senior-friendly devices.

The rapid development of communication technology can be hard to keep up with, so you may not be aware of the diversity of tech devices available to you. If you haven’t yet upgraded to a smartphone, don’t be daunted by their seeming complexity. There are phones designed to meet the needs of aging adults. But a smartphone isn’t the only option out there. For a larger screen and keyboard but plenty of portability, try a tablet. Or, if you prefer more computing options and storage, try a laptop computer. Read online reviews to see which devices are most reliable and involve the least hassle for the lowest price.

Accessorize for a more rewarding experience.

Even if you are already at ease with different devices, you might want to sample tech accessories, such as webcams and headphones, to enhance your remote communication experience. Some of these accessories can be especially helpful if you struggle with vision loss or decreased mobility. Those concerned about the cost of splurging on additional tech, shop around for sales at trusted retailers like Best Buy or look for discount coupons and promotions.

Sample different communication media.

If you’re used to using your phone just for talking, why not try some of the other communication alternatives available to you via tech? Texting is a fun and quick way to say hello or share links and images throughout the day. If you’re missing in-person get-togethers, video chat apps such as Zoom and Skype let you talk face to face and in real-time. Or, you can try Facebook’s Messenger app, which is completely free, easy to use, and comes with a large selection of filters to entertain your younger relatives (and possibly older ones, as well). You can also use apps and social media to participate in various virtual meetups and online events.

Make yourself at home on social media.

Gone are the days when social media was just for kids or college students. While millennials remain the largest single age bracket among Facebook users, the use of Facebook is growing fastest among the fifty-and-up crowd. So if you don’t have an account just yet, it’s time to join the ever-growing community of seniors engaging there. Instagram is also worth trying for image sharing and keeping up with precious moments of your loved ones’ daily lives. There are even some social networks that are exclusive for older adults. These social media platforms are all free and easy to use — just be sure you protect your privacy.

Practice safety online.

Protecting your personal information is one of the most important things you can do to ensure safety in online activities. Other safety measures include choosing good passwords, remembering to log out on shared devices, and not sharing confidential information on an open network. Don’t click on links or open email messages you aren’t sure of or accept friend requests from people with no pre-existing connection to your social group. Be aware that scams come in a multitude of disguises, so practice caution always.

Whether you are already fairly tech-savvy or if much of this is new to you, the industry is constantly evolving, which means you can look forward to exciting new ways of keeping in touch across the miles. Talk to your friends and loved ones about which communication tools they like, so you can all be on the same platform and enjoy virtual connection — even if you have to wait a little longer for the real thing. 

And when you’re ready to rejoin the world, keep an eye on the Huntsman World Senior Games website for event updates.