60% of US Seniors Are Already Online
Generally speaking, boomers and seniors alike are becoming more computer savvy. Yes, some more than others. You always have the outliers, like those that are super-users AND those that think an apple is just a tasty fruit… As baby boomers age more seniors will be as comfortable with a mouse in hand, as a cup of coffee. Analyst firm Forrester Research recently published a report confirming that 60% of U.S. seniors are already online! The point is generationally, the wave of online engagement is sweeping across the globe. There are a number of options for seniors that want to get online and the options range widely. Regarding computers for seniors: there are branded out-of-the-box-solutions like the Telikin Computer for Seniors, and it's cousin the Wow Computer for Seniors distributed by FirstStreet. There is another branded solution called the A Plus Senior Computer that is worth a look as well. Modern tablets like the iPAD and the Kindle are great ways for seniors to get online. These tablets are mobile solutions that are relatively easy to work with AND they are all touch screen enabled. It's probably worth noting that for folks that lack dexterity in their fingers and/or hands the tablet could be problematic. We'd suggest playing with one before purchasing. If a tablet is purchased, there are optional blue-tooth enabled keyboards to make typing a bit easier.
Senior Friendly Software Plays a Role
Other senior-friendly computer options include software solutions (or “software overlays”) like PointerWare. These solutions can turn the modern PC into a simpler environment for seniors. Finally, OEM solutions that have modern, flexible technologies built-in (like HP models designed with newer/easier to use Microsoft Operating Systems) are providing easier-to-navigate environments for all. The combination of newer consumer-centric software (along with more dependable hardware) make the everyday computer worth considering.
Deciding on the best solution is entirely dependent on how computer savvy your operator (user) is, budget constraints, and of course whether the user is willing to be trained or not. Frankly, for the consumer that is willing to learn AND not afraid to ask questions (of friends and/or family members) the newer PCs (yes including Apple which we love) are a great way to go.
The point is generationally, the wave of online engagement is sweeping across the globe.
New Operating Systems
Newer operating systems (like Windows 8) are far more supportive of touch screen technology. Touch screen capability brings an adaptive-technology-element to the table that benefits all consumers (not just seniors). Users that need a much simpler UI (user interface) may wish to consider out-of-box solutions like the Telikin product or the A Plus Computer for Seniors. *Note: these solutions will initially require some set-up and training (as will all of the various options).
Leaders in the field of Eldercare (and families of seniors for that matter) should have faith that more sophisticated operating systems (from technology giants Microsoft and Apple) along with more integrated hardware solutions will translate into better and more adaptive experiences for all. Regardless of the inevitable evolution of big technology, there is a growing cadre of software solutions (and start-ups) just waiting to fill the gap. There are 20 million reasons here in the U.S. alone (65 and over) for companies to keep improving the experience for families, and for us all.