Even if you’re ageing and housebound, the Internet is an invaluable pathway that can enable you to stay connected to the outside world. You can stay in contact with friends and family through emails and video calls, no matter how far away they might live. News sites can keep you up to date with events on the local or international scene, and blogs can let you know all about new developments in your personal interests. Social network sites provide another way to stay in touch with your friends, and even allow you to make new ones.
For those with specific health and mobility issues, there are discussion groups and online support groups of every kind, and online chronic disease self-management programs for those who need them. Those who do will tend to show an improvement in their condition.
The Internet Can Be Genuinely Life-enhancing
Traditionally, older adults have been slow to embrace the Internet, but
according to a recent study they are now “the fastest growing group of Internet users.”
A further study conducted in England and Italy showed that when seniors were given specially designed computer training, which included being shown how to use Skype, Facebook and other social media tools, the benefits were enormous.
People reported feeling much healthier and happier and less isolated, and showed much improved cognitive clarity. One woman reported feeling “invigorated” by her new online life, whereas a control group of seniors who didn’t receive any training at all actually showed a decline.
One age expert associated with the study commented that “we need to get away from the concept of ‘computers’ – instead using tablets that are intuitive and easy to use – and focusing on apps like Skype that demonstrate immediately to people that being online really can enhance the quality of your life.” Older users seem to find tablets less intimidating than regular computers, and with a little encouragement can easily pick up how to use them. Tablets – whether iPads or Android – are also less cumbersome, less heavy and less costly than a laptop, and seem ideally suited to those who are less mobile. As well as bringing the educational and social benefits of the Internet, they can also provide entertainment via streaming services, bringing access to TV shows and movies without the need for an actual television.
However, some conditions like arthritis might make constantly holding on to a tablet difficult, especially if the person is also trying to juggle other items like remote controls as well. In that case, a bit of assistance might help. In their Stressless personal table, the furniture manufacturer Ekornes have several ergonomically designed models that could improve matters for them, including one designed to fit on or over the armrest of a chair or sofa, and another one specifically designed with a laptop or tablet user in mind.
There’s really no reason for anyone not to be online, even if your budget is a limited one – and the benefits are evidently enormous.