Technology! Where do I start?

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The Silver Life - Technology: Where do i start?

Do new technological breakthroughs scare you?

According to recent research by the Pew Research Center:

“Two different groups of older Americans emerge. The first group (which leans toward younger, more highly educated, or more affluent seniors) has relatively substantial technology assets, and also has a positive view toward the benefits of online platforms. The other (which tends to be older and less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability) is largely disconnected from the world of digital tools and services, both physically and psychologically… Today, 59% of seniors report they go online—a six-percentage point increase in the course of a year—and 47% say they have a high-speed broadband connection at home. In addition, 77% of older adults have a cell phone, up from 69% in April 2012.”

But as a group, most of us are, to a varying degree, at a loss when we are confronted with a new device such as the latest generation of smartphone or tablet. We often tend to ignore the “latest” breakthrough and retain the devices with which are already comfortable.

So this time, let’s take a quick look at what we could have that would make our lives easier without scaring us into inaction.

The first device we seem to be confronted with is the ubiquitous pendant (called a personal emergency response system (PERS), that is supposed to inform emergency services of an accident, health emergency, or assault.  Usually the device can be found in a drawer because we get tired of false alarms and the overt demonstration to one and all that we are “old”. To solve this problem, industry is working on solving the “aging with dignity” challenges like this one.  In the works are wrist devices that track our movements; computer programs that automatically remind us to check in on others or to send an email telling our family that we are still above ground.

The next device that seems to be invaluable is some form of cell phone or smart phone.  Since this is a challenge for me, I will deal with this in detail in a future article.

The laptop computer is probably essential and can greatly improve our ability to access not only the internet, but family, friends, and professional services including medical services. Although other devices such as tablets are becoming increasingly like a laptop and include many of the features we need as long as we are not playing the latest version of some complex game a laptop is still something worth having as part of our technology tool set. When looking at the purchase of a laptop, I recommend that you consider the following features and requirements as a starting point:

  • Will you need any form of adaptive device to use your laptops? For instance a mouse versus a touch screen, a large-key keyboard, a larger screen for easier viewing, etc.
  • If you are using the laptop for only for email, internet connections and pictures, you will not want to spend a lot on selecting one. But if you have your own business then you will need a more sophisticated one, expensive software, and additional memory, each of which, of course, comes with additional costs.
  • How much do you have in your budget for this purchase? The price for a new, decent laptop can range from as low as under $1000 to as high as $10,000 and more.
  • Lastly, will you use an Apple device or one using Microsoft software?  Check with your family and others you can trust and experiment with each and make your decision based on your test runs.

Since fully 77% of us have a cell phone device of some sort, but only 18% of us have a smart phone, I thought next time, I would take a look at which of the available smart phones are best for we Silver Surfers, and maybe look at how best to access and utilize their myriad features. Stay tuned…

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