By Devon Gallivan

Technology is here to stay and more seniors than ever are embracing everything it has to offer despite being initially hesitant or fearful of this ever-changing, computer-focused, social media-hungry, gadget-obsessed world.

Coming from a generation where they have seen the invention of the color television, remote control, video recorder and the computer itself, they are realizing that technology is designed to make life easier and more entertaining. As seniors learn new skills, they are often delighted with the advances that have been made and the worlds that are opening up for them.

Showcasing the many benefits of advanced technology for seniors piques their interest and is often the impetus for their quest to improve their skills and join the wave of technology. They see how using an e-reader allows them to increase font size or contrast when reading, and can give arthritic hands a break from holding heavy books – plus they are able to borrow library books or magazines without leaving their home. Or they discover how easily they can Skype or FaceTime with their children and grandchildren to increase connection with those who live far away. They have the opportunity to reconnect with childhood or school friends through Facebook or keep up on the latest news on Twitter. Perhaps they will use their computers or tablets to log on to Ancestry.com to research genealogy.

There are also many safety benefits tied in with the technology boom, such as emergency pendants, medication-dispensing devices and security camera operation — and increased awareness of what is happening in the community. Local police departments, first responders and community organizations have the ability to instantly share messages on Facebook or Twitter, alerting citizens to timely information. Perhaps a tree has fallen and is blocking a road or burst water pipes have caused a church service cancellation? You don’t have to wait to read it in the weekly paper or hear word on the street that could be misinterpreted. Good local examples of regular coverage and a warm, friendly approach are the Yarmouth Police Department and Bourne Police Department.

Once convinced of the benefits of incorporating technology into their lives, seniors in our area find it easy to start learning with resources around every corner. Local libraries and senior centers often offer classes to teach residents computer skills. For example, the South Yarmouth Public Library provides complimentary instruction on a variety of devices from computers and tablets to smartphones and e-readers, even offering one-on-one computer training. They also have computers, printers, scanners, Wi-Fi and databases, all available to use at no charge.

One of their most popular resources is free access to Ancestry.com for family history research as well as the added social aspect of a genealogy club that meets once each month.

The Academy of Life Long Learning at Cape Cod Community College offers introduction classes regularly. A.L.L.’s mission is to “offer the opportunity for those aged 50 and over to pursue their intellectual interests and educational activities and to explore new areas of learning in the company of their peers.” Even the Cape Cod technical high schools are involved in educating adults to become more computer-savvy. And local stores such as iCape Solutions and Mac Express offer regular training and one-on-one assistance for their customers. More notably, these stores also sell gadgets that can help with the handling of these devices like stylus pens for touchscreen ease and case protectors or oversized grips for easy handling and protection of smartphones and tablets.

According to the Pew Research Center, Internet use among those age 65 and older grew 150 percent between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Furthermore, its 2012 study showed that of those that go online, 71 percent do so daily and 34 percent use social media. Overall, seniors who are active with technology express increased socialization, decreased depression, opportunities for continued learning, education and brain health, a sense of purpose and gaining new skills. Modern technology is becoming more and more important every day in more ways than we realize. Seniors, embrace!

Devon Gallivan is a Sales & Marketing Specialist at Thirwood Place. She can be reached at dgallivan@thirwoodplace.com or (508) 398-8006.

This article was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Health & Wealth.