There’s a persistent and undeserved stereotype about those who have orbited the sun 70 or 80 times that they are not interested in using digital technology. While true that many seniors have not yet used a lot of new technologies, when fueling personal interests or solving specific needs, older generations are getting on board with tech solutions now more than ever.
For some, a special interest or hobby becomes the perfect impetus for learning to use a technology device, or even an entire system of devices. Longtime BTV resident Marie Breuer has taken the job of organizing old and current family photos, correspondence and paper artifacts to an amazing level. Learning to use a digital scanner and a graphic layout program on her desktop computer, Marie has captured and meticulously labeled countless images. She then prints the materials to design beautifully detailed, individual notebooks about the lives of each member of her entire extended family. By learning to use the equipment she has, Marie has built a remarkable volume of work she can enjoy now and pass on to future generations of her family.
Others, like Butterfield resident Liz Brantley, like to use evolving technology for personal enjoyment and well-being. Liz is an avid listener of all kinds of music, finding energy, happiness and inspiration from a large array of recordings of her favorite pieces. At the suggestion of her son, who knows how important music is in her life, Liz began experimenting with online digital music platforms to access all kinds of things. She tried several options, landing on the service Spotify. While there is a free version of Spotify, Liz has chosen to upgrade to the paid option – and now if you see her around the BTV campus or out on one of her long daily walks, you’ll spot her comfortable headphones that cordlessly stream her favorite music from her Smartphone to her ears. She says there’s nothing better than great music to lift spirits and quicken your step, and learning to create, save and listen to her own curated playlists means there’s never a bad song.
According to 2021 research by AARP, seniors using technology to connect with others has increased significantly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. An impressive 45% of people aged 50 and older now use video chats by phone or computer, and one in three do so weekly. Telehealth visits with doctors and nurses have become much more mainstream for older patients, and many people order prescriptions or make appointments using their digital devices.
When it comes to one of the most commonly used ways to directly connect with other people for fun — Facebook — a current study by Statista shows seniors are the smallest user age group. Yet, 46% of those aged 65 plus use the platform to engage with family and friends. At Butterfield, a growing number of residents have found Facebook to be an uplifting way to stay in touch with loved ones, particularly when travel and gatherings have proven problematic over the past two years. Resident Ann Marie Ziegler is a regular user of Facebook and says it has been a great option for her to reconnect with long-ago friends, see what is happening in the community and keep up with family. She believes if more retirees would try using it and learn the basics, they would gain a lot of enjoyment from the experience.