The older I get, the more I appreciate the body of my youth. As a Baby Boomer dealing with hearing loss (too much rock music), memory loss (not enough Gingko) and unbending knees (too much biking), I appreciate every bit of senior assistance. That gratitude extends to manufacturers developing products tailored for those with reduced capacity or not familiar with our rapidly changing tech world. While some of the following examples weren't originally designed with America's elders in mind, they still offer great benefits to those who don't want to get totally left behind.
Technology For Seniors
Here are seven changes age hath wrought in today's technological world.
Dumb Phones: I was bereft when my ancient Razr phone disappeared as it was so easy to use and is no longer available. In looking for a replacement, I found most phones have tiny black buttons and keyboards designed more for texting and playing online than for making calls. Some manufacturers are listening to these concerns, however, and creating phones specifically for my brethren. According to cnet.com reviews, the Doro PhoneEasy series offers basic, easy-to-use phones with big numerals, a bright screen and few unneeded extras.
- Intelligent Phones: Intel is working on a phone for those who have memory problems. Using caller ID tech, it'll display a photo of the person calling, the user's relationship to the caller, and information about their last conversation. It would be even more helpful if Intel would create a human-implant screen that would jog my memory upon meeting people I "know."
- Nana Technology: Companies like Accenture and Intel have teamed up with universities and other researchers in the development of gadgets that make life easier. These include smart walkers users can retrieve by remote control; pillboxes that remind you to take your pills; and mailboxes that let you know when mail has arrived.
- Tablet Computers: I'd give my AARP membership for an iPad. The screen is a joy, the touchpad keyboard is nice and big and, most importantly, it's entirely intuitive. Apple's security technology also nearly eliminates spyware and viruses, which are a nightmare to eradicate. In general, touchscreens are easier for seniors to use. It took me just 30 minutes to get an elderly friend up and running on her new Motorola Xoom tablet. Unable to type anymore due to arthritis, the light touch required for these screens opened a whole new world. We loaded a few useful apps, made Google her home page, set up a gmail account and she was off.
- E-readers: Few books are printed in large type anymore, but e-readers can make every book easy to read. The Kindle, for example, allows users to boost the font size with a touch of a button and the resolution improves with every release. The Barnes & Noble NOOK boasts a full-color display that makes reading even easier.
- Durable Tech Cases: Otterbox has cornered the market on hardcore cases for phones, e-readers, laptops and just about everything else that can be dropped, smashed or end up in water. They also have a stellar reputation for quality customer service, which means seniors don't have to deal with smarmy, unhelpful responders.
- Online Shopping: Shopping the e-commerce way is so much faster and easier for those facing diminished capacities. Plus, the selections are much larger, it's often also possible to find better prices, and free shipping deals bring your purchase directly to the door without a delivery fee. Isn't technology wonderful?
About the author. Kate Forgach is a senior-consumer expert for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, ABC World News, NBC's TODAY show and many other media outlets.