Seniors Going Digital

Seniors Going Digital

- in Aging Answers, Health
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Seniors Going DigitalCaregivers can help their loved ones with new apps, also make sure they stay safe online.

Seniors engaging in the digital world is great news for caregivers.

In fact, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey shows that 59 percent of ­senior citizens go online regularly — this is a 6-percent increase since 2012. In addition, 47 percent of seniors surveyed reported having a high-speed broadband connection at home.

As caregivers, we are often called upon to offer 24/7 tech support. Luckily, app developers have made that role a bit easier. If you are the de facto tech department for your beloved family members, check out these helpful new ­digital tools that would be great additions to their devices.

Health & Fitness

• Runtastic Pedometer (Android and Apple) — Are you trying to get your tech-savvy senior to get out and walk regularly? After installing Runtastic Pedometer, they just need to drop their phone in their pocket and every step will be counted.

• MediSafe (Android and Apple) — MediSafe is a fantastic tool for reminders to take medications. Caregivers can sign up to receive an alert when a loved one hasn’t taken their medication on time, and provides an option to send a digital reminder.

Safety

• Red Panic Button (Android and Apple) — When an emergency need arises, your parent can very easily tap the panic button in this simple-to-use app. Immediately, a distress text message and email message (including the exact GPS location) are sent out to the pre-programmed list of contacts.

• Where Did I Park the Car? (Android) — Using Android’s GPS features, your senior can record where she parked her car at the mall with a tap of a finger. When it’s time to leave, the app will lead her right back to her car.

Entertainment

• Social Media — Did you know that your grandmother loved Bon Jovi? You’ll get to know your family members better as you engage with them on social media. Facebook is the best choice for seniors; the interface is easy to navigate and the privacy settings are the strongest of all of the social media platforms.

• Gaming — Seniors love to play video games just like the rest of us. Have your youngest children teach Grandpa how to play Candy Crush. Other games such as Words With Friends have a social aspect as well — you can play each other virtually.

Digital Risks / Phishing Scams

In the typical phishing scenario, a victim receives an official-looking email from his or her bank. The email might warn them there is an error in the account, which can only be fixed by clicking on a link in the email. This official-looking website requests the victim’s username, password and other personal information. Once the data is entered into the fake website, the victim’s identity and/or property can be stolen.

Bottom line: Do not ever click through an email and enter personal information. If you receive an email from your bank, call the bank on the phone directly to address any issue.

TMI on Public Platforms

Giving “too much information” on ­social media is a very simple way to increase chances of being robbed or victimized. When Grandma posts a note on her grandson’s Facebook wall asking him to come over and fix the broken lock on her back door this weekend, she has accidentally publicized her broken lock to all of her grandson’s friends.

Bottom line: Warn your seniors not to post private information on any social platform, including upcoming vacation plans.

Open Wi-Fi

Using an unsecured Wi-Fi signal in a public place (like a coffee shop or airport) is a huge security risk. Any data sent or received via that network can be stolen by hackers who will then use it to steal the victim’s identity and property.

Bottom line: Never log into any ­account while using a public Wi-Fi account. This is especially true for bank and brokerage accounts, but is just as relevant for social media and email accounts.

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