If you are a senior with vision loss, staying connected to family and friends and the world can be challenging.
It seems like everyone is attached to their devices. Friends have moved out of town and it’s hard to meet new people. Children and grandchildren lead busy lives - and much of their communication takes place at a high speed, with low fidelity to traditional grammar and sentence structure. Phone calls have become few and far between. People just don’t seem to get together and visit the way they used to. The community newspaper doesn’t show up as often and when it does, the print is too small to read.
If you didn’t grow up in the age of technology or you lost your vision before becoming computer savvy, getting into the swing of things may be intimidating. Are you still trying to find out the difference between Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, e-mail, blogging, texting, tweeting… twerking? Yes, there is a whole new language to learn, but it’s never too late to explore the dance of digital dialogue.
One sure way to get connected is to join the masses through technology and use of the internet. Through e-mail and Skype, seniors are connecting with younger generations as well as other seniors via the comfort of home. Considering transportation limitations for seniors with vision loss, staying connected from home can reduce the feeling of isolation.
According to Statistics Canada, growth rates for internet use have been highest among seniors since 2000. On the other hand, growth rates for users age 15 to 24 had already reached a point of near-saturation by 2003.
Thirty-one per cent of seniors mention age as a reason for not taking up the internet. Seniors with vision loss may be under the misimpression that they simply cannot take part in technology. But with so many advances like voice recognition software, many perceived barriers have in fact improved accessibility.
Tips for seniors getting started with technology:
Take your time and take someone with you when considering a technology purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – lots of them!
Give your self time to learn the new language, programs and computer. Don’t worry if you can’t figure everything out all at once. Go at your own speed!
Find out what is available to make navigation easier for you.
Check in with other seniors and others with experience who can teach you the basics. Or seek out and sign up for formal assistance. You are not alone!
Learn about online safety and be aware of settings and precautions to take. Protect yourself!
Don’t be afraid. Have fun!
Since the seniors who would most benefit from reading this blog might not be online, please spread the word. You can help by encouraging and helping a senior you know to get connected!
For more information on seniors and technology visit Eldercare.gov and Statcan.gc.ca. If you’re in the area, on October 29, CNIB Simcoe/Muskoka will combine its Tech Fair (a perennial favourite throughout CNIB regions) with its second annual Seniors Summit. The fair aims to help seniors be connected as well as possible - to dip a toe in the water of the web, or to become fully wired if so desired.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Rotunda, Barrie City Hall
70 Collier Street, Barrie, ON L4M 4T5
Lucia Ricardo is a long time journalist and is currently the Seniors Coordinator for CNIB Simcoe/Muskoka.