Although long dead, Oscar Wilde could have been talking about our relationship with twenty-first century technology when he observed, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”
Yes, age stands alone on those days you would gladly trade the myriad of viewing choices for a television that you could turn on without an instruction booklet. But with increasing frequency and louder insistency, our wiser selves see the ever-increasing benefit of technology.
Technology is much more than hundreds of channels to entertain. Merriam-Webster defines technology as employing science “to invent useful things or to solve problems.” Relevant examples for the over-50 crowd abound:
- E-books. Adjustable type size means no more wishing for larger print.
- Facebook. No need to save political arguments for holiday dinners. Now you can argue politics, online, with family and friends across the world any time of year.
- G-chat/Skype/FaceTime. Watch your grandson sample solid food in real time, but keep the rice cereal off your shirt.
- Picture-sharing sites. Known for cutting off heads in pictures? Leverage the better photography skills of those in your circle.
- Netflix—Who says you cannot relive your youth? Bring on 1960’s sitcoms.
- Online banking and investment. Now you can respond whenever and wherever to the “I-thought-I-had-enough-money-in-my-account to pay my rent today, but . . .” phone call.
- Interactive medical websites. Research medical conditions, make appointments, view test results, ask questions, if for no other reason than to enjoy your doctor’s facial expression when you say, “I read on the Internet that . . . “
- Caregiver gadgets. Lots of cool stuff, like a self-stabilizing spoon for those with movement disorders, door sensors, and a vital signs monitor.
- Age-in-place aides. Not warming to assisted living or the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” necklace? What about a remote activity monitor? Other tech gadgets include a medicine vial that chirps at dosing time, and a wristwatch programmed to give reminders. Low-cost projectors and wireless headphones can make life easier for those struggling with vision and hearing problems.
This list is merely illustrative and is destined to grow rapidly—as a cursory review of statistics makes obvious. The United States is home to over 100 million 50+-years-old. An AARP study revealed that this group is responsible for 50% of consumer spending but is only targeted by 10% of marketing. Marketing gurus are too smart to ignore those statistics for long.
- AARP and 1976, a DC technological think tank teamed up to explore ways technology innovation can benefit aging baby boomers.
- Funding for senior-focused startups is on the rise.
No doubt, the “silver tsunami” is a ripe and ready target for innovation and has much to gain. So, do not endanger the reputation of the elder as wise. Aging with wisdom means taking steps to harness technology.
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