Senior citizens may not be the first people to embrace the iPad or other cutting-edge technology, but that doesn’t mean young techies get to have all the fun. A survey by Pew Research Center showed 30% of adults ages 65 and older had broadband Internet connections in their homes in 2009, up from just 8% in 2005. There are a slew of gadgets on the market to make technology easier for seniors—here’s a look:
Personal-computers are pretty much a mainstay these days, but they can be overwhelming to seniors, especially ones suffering from poor eyesight. The MyGate PC, which is made by seniors for seniors, has a screen that zooms up to 200%, easy-to-see text, buttons and links and your own e-mail address. The computer, which starts at $799, includes brain fitness games, unlimited tech support, a one-click trackball mouse and a keyboard with large buttons.
For seniors with deteriorating eye sight, typing and surfing the Web can be a challenge. To address that, companies are selling keyboards with over-sized keys. Take the BigKeys LX keyboard from Greystone Digital, which has one-inch keys on a standard sized keyboard. The keyboard, which sells for $159 comes in black, white, yellow, or multi colored and users can choose from the standard QWERTY keyboard or ABC-ordered keys. The keyboard doesn’t require special software to operate, all you have to do is plug it into your computer and the days of squinting to type are over.
Some of the latest cell phone hitting the market are so complex with all their bells and whistles it seems like using them to simply place a call an afterthought. The Jitterbug cell phone from GreatCall has a large keypad that makes it easy to dial phone numbers, speakers that provide clear sound, the ability to access all phone options by saying “yes” or “no,” 24-hour assistance from a GreatCall operator and rate plans that start at $14.99 a month. And unlike many cell phone carriers, you’re not locked into a contract when you buy the Jitterbug. The phone, which is made by Samsung, start at $99.
For many seniors, taking medication is a part of their daily lives and remembering when to take which medication can be a chore. OnTimeRx software aims to prevent users from forgetting to take their medicine by sending daily reminders to the device of their choosing. The software works with a home telephone, mobile phone, by text and even via e-mail. Users set up a reminder schedule and personalize the message to be sent to a designated device at a pre-set schedule. The software is also available for BlackBerry, Palm or Windows Mobile smartphones and can even be installed on a desktop or laptop. The service ranges from $9.95 for 35 reminders to $29.95 for 200 reminders.
Women over 55 are one fastest growing age groups on Facebook, and other social networks are taking notice. Eons.com is baby boomer-focused social networking site that allows users stay in touch with friends, make new ones, start groups and play games geared toward boosting or maintaining brain power. One thing you’ll find on eons.com that’s not likely to appear on Facebook is a “Longevity Calculator”-- a 10-minute survey that predicts how long you might live.
While young people may dominate the tech scene, senior citizens aren't resistive to technology. Here’s a look at gadgets geared toward older generations.