Help older people stay in virtual touch with tech

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

20 Mar 2020


Isolation is a big problem for seniors. According to charity Age UK, 1.4 million older people are chronically lonely. An important part of this is that many older people live apart from friends and relatives.

Fortunately, there are some practical things we can do to tackle this. And helping older people to use tech that many of us take for granted is one. According to one recent report, over half of 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 top technology for elderly tips - just 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 demonstrate how easy it is to scroll or swipe between pictures. Set up a video call to show them how easy it is to keep in touch and what features they might find handy.


Help them get online

Fortunately getting internet access has never been easier or more affordable. Simply contact an internet service provider (such as BT, Virgin Media, Sky etc) and they’ll send a modem and a quick start guide.

Since older people are already likely to have a landline, you’ll often be able to add internet services to their existing line rental for a small increase.


Find some accessible tech

A big problem for old people and technology can be small screens or small buttons. Fortunately, there are some devices which may be suitable. A large tablet can provide a big bright touchscreen that’s easy to navigate – plus font sizes can be adjusted for a better reading experience. Facebook has recently released their tablet Portal – which is designed around video chat.

If they’re after a phone, there are a number of models especially adapted for an older audience.


Build up their confidence

While you can get them started, it might be a good idea to find classes and resources in their local area to give them a confidence boost. Find a local evening class at an institution or library which takes a step-by-step approach to getting old people using technology properly. If getting out is an issue, there are some good online courses or YouTube will offer some free tutorials.


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 etc, 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.


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