A stunning recent report by Pew Research shows 34 % of our senior citizens 65 plus are not using the internet.
This simply means that 1/3 of our seniors are not taking advantage of the most powerful research and communication tool available in their lifetime. With the click of a mouse, our seniors could find out the answer to their health challenges, financial dilemma or even reconnecting with a long lost relative, but sadly, many are unable to take advantage of the basic necessity. These eye popping numbers for our elder population seem to have remained stagnant over the last several years, so we must find a way to address this problem for our older Americans.
If it is a financial concern, there are many programs available that could help seniors learn how to easily access to the internet without a financial burden. Many companies offer assistance to low income consumers. For example, Charter Spectrum offers options to help low income seniors have access to reliable high speed internet through their internet assistance program. To qualify, a member of the household must receive either:
- Be a part of the National School Lunch program (NSLP) Free or reduced cost lunch
- Community Eligibility Provision of the NSLP
- Supplemental Security Program (65+)
If it is education or training holding our elders back, many local libraries, colleges, trade schools and universities have classes available to assist senior citizens. One compassionate librarian at Kennesaw University recognized that many things we take for granted like reading newspapers online, buying things on Amazon or connecting with family members across the country were simply out of reach for many senior citizens unless people took the time to help them overcome the anxiety or intimidation. Thankfully, the librarian decided to do something about it and volunteered to teach an internet course at the University of Georgia's Lifelong Learning Institute to help senior citizens improve their skills. Most of the time, it is just the basic computer skills that seniors need to brush up on.
On many occasions, fear or intimidation prevents our older Americans from accessing the internet. With the raid growth of the crime of elder exploitation, fear is a legitimate concern and seniors should always think about security and internet safety when they go online. Unfortunately, the bad guys attempt to target and exploit the elderly, however, we all have to protect ourselves anytime we access the internet. We recommend senior citizens consider the following Kaspersky online safety tips whenever accessing the internet.
- Keep privacy settings on
- Limit personal information
- Practice safe browsing
- Make sure your internet connection is secure
- Be careful what you download
- Choose strong passwords
- Make online purchases from secure sites
- Be careful what you postings
- Be careful who you meet
Often times, health or eyesight problems could be preventing seniors from accomplishing or attempting simple tasks. Once we reach the age of 60, a number of vision related challenges may occur hindering our abilities, according to the American Optometric Association. It is important to always get your eyes checked routinely. The earlier cataracts, age related macular degeneration and glaucoma are detected and repaired the easier it is to return to good vision. Should it be something minor, a new set of glasses or enlarging the print on the computer can help considerably.
Like all of us, trying new things is quite stressful, but the anxiety senior citizens face is sometimes overbearing. American Senior Alliance believes it is vital for senior citizens to take the time to get comfortable using the internet. We discussed a few of the challenges that our older Americans face, but let's all make it a point to be more patient and understanding of our elders and work together in 2018 to to help our seniors access the internet.