The Real Reasons Why the Elderly Struggle With Technology
“Seniors will never understand how to use technology.”
“They are too old – they don’t want to learn!”
Have you ever heard these phrases? Who knows, maybe you have even said them!
We have all generalized seniors as a group of people that just “don’t get” technology. Usually, there’s a lot of negative attention put on seniors. Here’s the thing – the senior is not the problem! The real reason why our elderly loved ones struggle with technology is that the technology solutions on the market today are not tailored to fit their needs.
Difficult User Interfaces – Screens and Buttons
Our ability to see tends to decline as we age, along with other challenges that lead to higher acuity. That is why seniors find it most difficult to navigate screens. First, the text on a smartphone, tablet, and even some laptop screens is often too small or inadequate lighting for seniors to read – even with the modifications to enlarge or zoom-in. Along with text, seniors find it difficult to use calling features like Facetime. For example, during the increase in video calls between seniors and their families during the pandemic, staff members of senior living community shared that Facetime was difficult to use. This was because “it was hard for residents to comprehend words and read lips over the screen.”
Experience and Knowledge
Certain elderly people struggle with technology and seem not as tech-savvy as the younger generations because they didn’t grow up with technology as a central part of their life. Technology entered everyone’s lives at different times. For Generation Z and Millenials like myself, we never lived in a world where the internet and social media didn’t exist. For Generation X and some Baby Boomers, computers, email, and cell phones were introduced and widely accepted as typical forms of communication. Not only for personal use but widely used in the workplace.
For older generations, technology was not as common. These generations maybe had a television or a landline phone growing up. Therefore, seniors’ having innate knowledge or vast experience with today’s technology devices are rare. This can lead to intimidation of technology and skepticism of how advanced solutions are from the forms of technology they grew up with. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn. It is simply that they aren’t naturally as comfortable with modern technology.
Another reason why the elderly struggle with technology is because of device audio limitations. According to an article from the American Family Physician, approximately one-third of adults 61-70 years of age and more than 80% of those older than 85 years old have hearing loss. The audio can only be adjusted to a certain extent for certain devices, leaving older adults unable to hear the device clearly. In short, small and low-quality speakers found in phones and laptops are not compatible for seniors.
Sensitive Touch Screens
Touch screens are one of the most challenging features for seniors to navigate. And, it’s not because they don’t understand the concept of pressing buttons or that they need to type to send messages. Touch screens work by using electrical charges in our skin to identify where the user is touching the screen. This works when our hands are warm and moist. For instance, when you wear gloves or try to use your smartphone in the winter, it might not always identify your touch command. Elderly people struggle with technology that has touch screens because our skin gets dry and becomes unable to control temperature as we age. Smartphones, tablets, and other touch screen technology are not created for seniors in mind.
Touch screens are also difficult for seniors to use because of other physical limitations. Such as decreased dexterity, increased shaking, lack of hand-eye coordination, arthritis, or more advanced physical disabilities like Parkinson’s disease. Touch screens, keyboards, or even small handheld devices are all hardware solutions that are incompatible with seniors with these physical health challenges.
How Speak2 Makes Technology Easy for Seniors to Use
So, if seniors want to be able to use the internet, connect with their family, and all of the other amazing things technology can do, what technology should they be using?
Given all the reasons the elderly struggle with technology, one of the best technology solutions is Speak2 through the Amazon Echo devices. This technology allows users to interact with the voice assistant “Alexa” through voice commands. Here are some of the ways Amazon Echo Devices break the common barriers for seniors who want to use technology:
- Hard to Read and Sensitive Touch Screens: Amazon’s Echo devices are controlled by voice commands. Therefore, there is no need for hard-to-read text and screens. Users can ask Alexa to make calls, send messages, set reminders, play games, access the internet, and read audiobooks. The ability to use voice commands also makes technology more accessible for seniors with physical health challenges.
- Lack of Experience and Knowledge: One of the best features about Speak2 and Amazon’s Alexa is how natural it is for seniors to use. Controlling technology through voice commands takes away the challenge of powering up a computer, clicking through the internet, or figuring out how to navigate social media norms. With Speak2 and Alexa, seniors can just ask Alexa to send a message, call a loved one, or open up photos of the grandkids with their voice.
- Audio Limitations: Compared to most cell phones and computers, the Amazon Echo devices have larger and higher quality speakers. Furthermore, the voice assistant Alexa speaks slowly and clearly so any senior can hear what she says. And, if the senior missed her response, they can simply ask Alexa to repeat herself.
Seniors everywhere are using Alexa and Speak2 – whether they live at home or in a senior living community! Our elderly loved ones shouldn’t have to struggle with technology. That’s why at Speak2, we strive to provide solutions that are easy to use, inclusive and impactful for everyone.
Are you interested in using this technology? Contact us!