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Help older people stay in virtual touch with tech

You don’t need to be in the room to be in the loop...


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Isolation is a big problem for seniors. According to charity Age UK, 1.4 million older people are chronically lonely. And a big part of that is down to many elderly people living apart from friends and family – something that lockdown certainly hasn’t made any easier!

Luckily there are some practical things we can do to tackle the problem... like helping older people use the tech we take for granted. In fact, in one report, over half the older people surveyed agreed that tech can bridge the physical gap between distant family and friends.

So how can you help? We’ve put together some tech tips to help you get them started.

Start with the benefits

If you’re trying to introduce chat apps or social media to someone who’s never used them before, they can seem overwhelming. Change can be scary – particularly in later life. So, win them round with what they might find great about getting online.

Show them how they can use sites like Facebook or Instagram to look at photos of grandchildren or holidays – and how easy it is to scroll or swipe between pictures. Stay on the phone to them while you set up a video call so they can see how it works and what features they might find handy.

Help them get online

Getting internet access has never been easier or more affordable. Just contact an internet service provider, like BT, Virgin Media or Sky. They’ll send a modem and a quick start guide.

Since older people will probably already have a landline, you’ll often be able to add internet services to their existing line rental for a little extra.

Find some accessible tech

A big problem with older people and tech can be small screens or buttons. Fortunately, there are some devices which might be a bit easier for them. A large tablet has a big bright touchscreen that’s easy to navigate – plus you can adjust the font size for poor eyesight. Facebook has their tablet Portal, that’s designed specifically for video chat to keep things simple.

And if they’re after a mobile, there plenty of phones designed for senior people. We've put some below, but you can always have a quick google!

Build up their confidence

While you can get them started, it might be a good idea to find classes and resources to give them a confidence boost. There are loads of good online courses or free tutorials on YouTube.

If you’re not sure where to begin, take a look at Age UK’s computer training courses.

Set them up with the apps they’ll need

Once they’re ready to go, why not start them off with the apps they’ll find most handy? Here are some useful ones for staying in touch:

Facetime – The go-to video chat app for Apple users. If they have an iPhone or iPad, this will come built in.

Skype – Another huge video chat app which also offers instant messaging, sends texts and other media.

Facebook – By setting up an account on Facebook, they’ll be able to keep up with friends and family as well as accessing Facebook Messenger – which will allow them to chat with their contacts.

Instagram – An easy-to-use app for enjoying family pictures.

Whatsapp – A text chat service, that will sync with their phone contacts and lets you voice and video call for free.

And finally… remember to keep your phone on. No doubt you’ll be getting a video call from a newly tech-savvy senior soon!

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