We’re so accustomed to thinking that the internet is for younger people that we often fail to grasp how long it’s been an important part of our daily lives. And we’ve all heard it repeated ad nauseum that older people “just don’t get technology” to the point where we find ourselves repeating it as if it’s true.
According to a study by Pew Research, only 25% percent of American adults over 65 say they never go online, and that number continues to shrink each year.
Why? Well, consider that the internet as a commercial marketplace really came into being more than 25 years ago, and while it would have certainly been true that most seniors at that time had never used the internet, in the intervening years, the population has continued to age. A 65-year-old person today would have been right on the cusp of entering their 40s at the time the internet exploded into cultural prominence—that’s a long time to become accustomed to the technology that has become a touchstone in most of our lives.
Benefits seniors derive from the internet as they continue to age
While there are certainly applications, such as TikTok and Instagram, that appeal to primarily younger audiences, there are a wide variety of ways that seniors engage and benefit from being online every day.
Increased cognitive function
Online games, such as Sudoku and Scrabble keep older minds agile, and learning new skills via YouTube, Skillshare, or online courses through companies like Domestika, means that learning never needs to stop. Keeping the brain active and challenged helps prevent memory-related issues later in life.
Increased mental health and social relationships
Connecting with friends and family through social media, FaceTime, or joining online communities with folks who share their hobbies or interests can keep seniors engaged as they age, while lowering the risks of isolation and depression.
Increased physical health
Thousands of health-related articles, recipes, and exercise videos are simple ways to use the internet to improve one’s health. More recently, telemedicine has provided a convenient way for people of all ages to get the medical care they need without needing to leave their homes at all—and this is especially critical in rural areas where one’s “local” doctor may be several hours away.
Online shopping often seems to be the primary reason the internet exists as you visit every site from Amazon to Zappos. But many local stores and restaurants have online ordering as well, which makes leaving the comfort of home unnecessary.
Increased independence and safety
Internet-connected devices, such as home security systems, programmable thermostats, and water heater and electrical monitoring systems that can alert you to issues in your home, as well as smart home devices can enhance your quality of life while keeping you safe and secure.
Increased entertainment options
Today, the assortment of easy-to-download, streaming applications, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and more, means that you always have something to watch. And with internet-connected devices, such as your mobile phone or tablet, you can take your entertainment wherever there’s Wi-Fi. What’s more, many seniors find they can save money by cutting the cord with their cable companies, while accessing all the sports and entertainment they need online.
More and more, people of all ages, including our seniors, have come to think of the internet as a reliable lifeline to a world of information, health benefits, connection to friends and family, and entertainment possibilities.
Want to learn more about what you or a loved one can do with the internet? Please feel free to contact us with your questions.
At Horizon, we care about everyone in our community. And if you ever have any questions about your service and what it can do for you, we’d love to hear from you!