Why do I need an iPhone…I’m perfectly happy with my little flip phone. I don’t need all those gadgets. For crying out loud! A phone should be a phone!
This is what I hear from many of my older cutomers. People are afraid of change. That’s as much a part of most people’s DNA as finding food and shelter. But, I want to help. I want aging baby boomers to know that technology promises freedom and a better way of life.
They tell me, “I have a phone, I’ve always had a phone, it does what I want it to do, why change? Getting old is hard enough. My memory is fading, I’m not as sharp as I used to be…why just add to my anxiety and frustration?” They don’t usually come right out and admit it, but it is palpable. Well the reason to change is the most important reason in the world. To stay connected with your children, grandchildren, friends and family. That’s it.
Life changes. In fact life seems to be changing at an ever increasing rate of speed. It’s hard to keep up. The towns and cities we grew up in, the neighborhoods were safe places where friends and family lived nearby, Sunday dinners were fairly regular. Birthday parties, anniversaries, graduations, Christmas, Passover, Easter, Thanksgiving were all family events that brought the extended family together. For many of us, that is a thing of the past. Divorces, geography, work, school, careers take us all over the country and the world and neighborhoods aren’t what they used to be. Holidays aren’t what they used to be.
Enter technology, but most especially the iPhone. Before the iPhone, technology, computers and the internet were primarily used for business and for individuals, as a useful home appliance, but not essential to our everyday lives. The iPhone changed all that.
So the question aging baby boomers need to ask themselves is, Do I want to stay in touch with my family? Do I want to stay relevant in their lives? Do I want to be a part of the conversation? Do I want to be connected? The answer is yes. Ok, so what do I need to do to make that happen?
My uncle Murray was one of the most active, gregarious, confident people I have ever met. He ran his own company that had him traveling to just about every state in the Union. For years he was a traveling salesman, selling jewelry findings to retailers. Later in his life, Murray moved to horse country in Long Island and followed his passion for riding horses. A jewish boy from the Bronx riding on Fox hunts is quite the image. But that was his passion. He had a barn on his property and took care of the horses while he continued running his business. Eventually he retired to Wellington, Florida with his wife and horses. He rode until he was about 78 years old. Another of his passions was traveling, overseas. And not to just your typical destinations, but to Asia, india, Russia, Middle East, Fiji, Central and South America. He was constantly on the go.
I used to visit Murray, as I only lived thirty minutes away. He was still traveling, but he wasn’t riding anymore. He fell off his horse and broke his hip. It made walking difficult. He was getting antsy sitting around the house all day. I suggested that he buy a personal home computer. This was back in 1998. He balked. He hated technology. He didn’t want anything to do with it. After a few of these “suggestions,” without his knowledge or consent, bought a computer for Murray. Brought it over, set it up and insisted that he sit down with me and learn how to use it. After a few visits, he not only got the hang of it, but it became his passion. He found a local high school kid to come over after school a few days a week to teach him, got internet service and was on his way.
Murray told me later, when he knew he didn’t have much time left, that the computer added years to his life. It kept him engaged, gave him something to look forward to, allowed him to stay at home, but still satisfy his voraciously curious mind. And to top it all off, he was able to see photos of his family and grandchildren growing up in New York and email them to make sure he was in the loop.
Well, the good news is that there is a whole industry designed around your exact needs. Apple’s iPhone has long been the favorite of seniors because it is easy to use and most of their friends and family have one. There are apps that can make the experience even better. Including tracking your prescriptions and heart rate.
Samsung’s Android smart phones have an “Easy Mode” setting for the inexperienced user. The icons are much bigger, as are the fonts. It provides access to a limited number of essential apps and offers very basic functions like a clock, weather, calendar, phone, messaging and camera. You can create memos, use the calculator, send email, listen to music and change the settings.
Telekin computer was developed specifically for seniors. At $699-$999 it is a perfect answer for most people who are new to computers, but still want to be able to stay in-touch with family and friends.
Ready to go right out of the box, this all-in-one touch-screen computer provides a big button menu that displays all your favorite functions on the screen at all times. By simply touching the menu option of your choice with your finger, you can get instant access to the Web, email, games, video chat, photo sharing, news, weather and more. Jim T. Miller, Savvysenior.org
There are classes at Apple Store, online resources with how-to and video tutorials, books, magazines, even one called “Complete iPad/iPhone for Seniors” published by BDM. The best option is to have a technology specialist, who specializes in training new users, come to your home and train you, one-on-one on how to use your phone, tablet and/or computer.
My experience has been that if people give technology a try, and spend a little time with a patient teacher, their eyes light up and they feel energized and excited. Because in the end, technology is only valuable if it gives people the opportunity to spend more time with those they love.