How Can Older Adult’s Benefit from Technology? by: Jenna Dolan

Introduction

            In today’s generation, recent technology has evolved in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago.  Many of these technology updates have opened doors and expanded opportunities for a wide variety of people, including senior citizens.  Social media applications or driving services are not specifically designed for senior citizens, but can be extremely beneficial for them.  Instagram, a social media application, is an app that users post pictures about their lives for all their followers to see.  Uber and Lyft, driving services, are programs that are used for people to have access to rides wherever and whenever they are needed.  Both these programs can positively influence senior citizen’s daily life activities and emotions.

Product Discussion

Instagram

            Instagram is an application that connects users to each other through pictures of their life.  People can follow others, whether they know them or not, but are connected through this application.  From The Experts of The Wall Street Journal, they state that “Instagram and other social-media platforms have attracted lots of users in recent years.  Increasingly, older adults are crating profiles, too, finding old friends and connecting with family” (Agronin, 2016).  With the senior citizens slowly starting to join social media, there are many benefits.  Because the variety of users has expanded, younger and older users now have a similar form of communication.  It is easy to chat on Instagram and to keep updated on others lives.  Argronin also states that “among their own peers, older adult can form virtual communities with friends and family from past and present – high school chums, army buddies, church circles – all in one spot” (2016).  He then goes further into detail about how these communities provide a large source of support and association.  This support then leads to more communication with others improving self social feelings of tender, love, and care.  With these virtual communities, it is a prime example of how older adults can feel connected.  Instagram is a great way for groups to be formed and promote easy access to events that call for a celebratory occasion of unity for the family or friends.   This is a prime example of how older adults can stay connected and feel informed about their children or grandchildren and what they are doing throughout their lives.

Looking further in depth of how Instagram can benefit older adults, it can potentially be a little bit of happiness in their day to day lives.  With many diseases, cancers, and other health complications, this application only posts pictures and can be more uplifting than some other social media applications.  Many older adults suffer from depression, dysphoria, “feeling “down” or “blue”, loss of interest and joy”, or feeling lonely (Burzynska).  Being apart of something that promotes activity and communication can be a great way for senior citizens to feel more loved or like they are responsible for something.  Instagram could help this feeling of belongingness by allowing older adults to post pictures about their lives or their families lives for their followers, gaining likes and comments.  To continue, symptoms of depression include “often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things” (Burzynska).  With that being said, Instagram is a way that an older adult can feel connected and socialize in the courtesy of their own home.  This application can be downloaded on a cell phone, iPad, tablet, or any sort of electronic device, making it easy to access, allowing for older adults to feel a little more loved.

Senior citizens may typically not be involved in social media because it was introduced in a later generation.  Senior citizens are also not accustomed to having cell phones as much as the current generation.  Having a cell phone always at hand allows for the current generation to be up to date with the newest technology.

 

Uber & Lyft

Driving services have also improved dramatically over the past few years.  Uber and Lyft are driving service programs that are designed to be of easier access, as well as cheaper than a taxi service.  By downloading Uber or Lyft on an electronic device and requesting a ride, “your drive will automatically get directions to your destination, and you pay for your ride with the debit card or credit card you’ve saved in the app” (Bolluyt, 2016).  For a various amount of reasons, this is a quick and easy way to find a ride if needed.   According to  Los Angeles Times, Tracey Lien discusses how Uber and Lyft are now targeting older adults.  Uber has partnered with 24Hr Home Care and Lyft has partnered with GreatCall, both allowing neither service to require smartphones.  “Lyfts operator service is only available to GreatCall members, and Uber’s operator service through 24Hr Home Care, names RideWith24, is available to the public via a toll-free number” (Lien, 2016).  With that being said, having these driving services has now become even easier to access to a wider range of citizens. As we get older in age, driving becomes more difficult.  According to Uber Newsroom, “more than one in five older American are no longer able to drive, and more than half of them stay home because they lack transportation options” (Claire, 2016).  Claire also states that “even if public transportation is available, many seniors are unable to get to a bus stop or subway station or may need wheelchair accessibility.  And being unable to get out and connect with other people creates isolation, which research shows can be detrimental to health” (2016).  It is clear that having a transportation service that is easily accessible is very beneficial for senior citizens.  Uber and Lyft also promote reliable transportation.  There are many areas that public transportation is inaccessible to older adults.  It furthermore allows for senior citizens to have the opportunity to be able to explore more.  There are more opportunities to meet up with others, shop around, and try new restaurants.

As beneficial it is for older adults to find a ride at easy access, it is even more beneficial to their health.  “Staying home and being isolated can contribute to high blood pressure, depression, and a number of other negative health outcomes”, but by having this access to transportation, it allows for a healthier lifestyle (Claire, 2016).  Having a healthier lifestyle through just being outside and getting fresh air “can help older adults enhance balance and prevent falls, as well as help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, and other health problems” (Claire 2016).  With that being said, having a quick and easy ride is more important than just a walk of shame hung-over ride home.  Senior citizens did not have access to this type of driving service before because this is a fairly new program.  However, as stated earlier, these type of driving services are contacted through a smartphone and senior citizens have not all adapted this accommodation yet to their lifestyle.

Conclusion

            Because of today’s technology, society has benefited in many ways.  Senior citizens tend to not latch onto societal mainstream technology advances, however could be extremely beneficial.  Instagram, in addition to Uber and Lyft are just a few examples that encompass this idea.  After analyzing both applications, it is clear that senior citizens can gain a happier lifestyle.  Instagram allows for all users to feel connected and apart of something, as well as, staying up to date with family and friends.  Uber and Lyft provide a driving service to all areas of the map and promote a better, and healthier lifestyle.

 

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