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The world is constantly changing. And that can be a very scary thing, especially for an older person such as myself. But even I can admit that the advancement in technology has drastically changed things for the better! If we take the time to learn some of the basics, we will all be better off for it and wonder how we ever got along without these advancements!
So, where do we get started when it all seems so very overwhelming? First, try talking to your kids and grandchildren! They grow up with this stuff and probably know everything you need to know. Just understand that even though it all seems like a lot up front, it will all eventually start to click for you!
What are the ways technology has made life better? Take a look at my list below:
Long gone are the days of having to go to the library to find information. It’s all at our fingertips now. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there on the internet. So how do you know what to believe? Find sources you trust and confirm the info with more than one source. There are lots of established virtual libraries of information out there, and even Google does its best to highlight legit websites and filter out the rest.
Another good thing about this, is the information is always being updated. Unlike the old Encyclopedia Britannica set we used to have on the shelf that would become dated over time, the latest breakthroughs and revisions are becoming public in real time! We’re better informed than at any point in history.
First, we communicated over distance by letter. And then, landline. But now, there are a plethora of ways to communicate with anyone in the world—and in real time! And the internet is to thank for this big-time advancement. Let’s take a look at some of the ways:
We mentioned landline service, but the invention of the cell has changed talking over the phone in a huge way! There’s no longer the need to remember phones numbers, and you free from the restriction of a cord to talk to anyone on the planet (pending cell service plan and roaming services). Most plans today include unlimited talk and text all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico, so no need to keep track of minutes.
Need to tell someone something that doesn’t require an immediate response? Or maybe you just don’t have the time for a full phone conversation? Send a text message! The recipient can see it when they have time to look and reply when they aren’t busy. This is becoming the preferred way with over 81% of Americans texting regularly, and 33% of American adults would rather text than any other form of communication!
Snail mail is largely a thing of the past when it comes to communication, although it is still nice to receive birthday cards in the mail! But if you just need to catch up with someone or make sure important documents can be received as soon as possible, email is the way to go. Just use your favorite email client (Apple Mail, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, etc.) on your cell, tablet, or personal computer and send instantly!
Not only is Facebook used as a social feed to see what our friends and family are up to, it has its own messaging tool called Messenger that allows you to text anyone you’re connected to through Facebook. Messenger can be used in Facebook itself and is also available as a standalone app.
Phone calls aren’t just phone calls anymore. Now, we have video chats that allow us to see each other while talking! Apple’s FaceTime is a big one as lots of people own Apple products, but there are many more. No matter where you are located, it’s that easy to see a friend or loved one in an instant!
In addition to more streamlined communication, the internet has connected us in a way that would’ve been seen as impossible before. This worldwide connectivity provides us an opportunity to better understand one another and different cultures. We can share certain events with the rest of the world in real time. It’s a smaller world than ever!
Social media has played a huge role in this. And yes, with it has come a lot of negativity. But its ability to bring us all together in times of need and to cultivate mass awareness of certain issues cannot be overstated. World news is now basically local news, and with this we can all grow together.
No more worrying about getting to the bank before they close or needing to ask a banker to see what’s going on in your account. Nearly all banks, even smaller local ones, have apps nowadays that you can download to have 24/7 access and insight into your finances. Track your deposits, transfer money between different accounts, and even scan checks with the camera on your phone to make deposits. It’s really that easy!
While online shopping has hurt many brick-and-mortar, family-owned businesses, there are some positives. For instance, you can search online for something then head to the nearest store and show them exactly what you need. Some of these local shops are more than happy to price match in order to have your business! At times, a store’s inventory can be seen online before you head out in the elements for potentially nothing. And with advertising, we have the chance to learn about more stores and restaurants in our areas that we may have never heard about!
If you want to buy something online, odds are you will find it somewhere! And typically, you can get some pretty fast shipping times anymore; Especially if you have something like Amazon Prime. You can also set reminders, have orders scheduled to arrive at certain times, and set up easy returns.
Home Safety Features
As referred to here, the word “smart” simply means that the product is connected to your home internet and can be controlled via any compatible device. Some of these appliances can even learn your schedule and act accordingly.
There’s a wide variety of these available now, including thermostats from Nest and Honeywell, that allow you to connect via app to have better control and more efficiently run your A/C/heat furnace potentially saving you some money.
You can set schedules to say, have it cooler at night while you’re sleeping or turn down the air conditioning while you’re not home throughout the week. Set it, forget it, and save! Feel a little cold while sitting on the couch? Just open the app and adjust the temp from your phone. These are truly a game-changer!
Smart Smoke Detectors
Smart smoke/carbon monoxide detectors not only allow online functionality with an app, but they can work together with smart thermostats of the same brand to control your furnace’s fans in case of fire to help reduce the spread. Pretty smart, indeed!
It’s easier than ever to set up cameras around the home thanks to the internet. Strategically place them (or have the grandkids do it!), connect them to the WiFi, and now you have your own home surveillance system! I like to use my living room camera to check in on the dog and cat while I’m away to give me peace that they’re doing alright. You can even talk to them through the camera to tell them you’ll be home soon! 🙂
Replace your old normal doorbell with one that has a built-in camera! This works the same way as your indoor/outdoor cameras by connecting to your WiFi, and it allows you to catch people at the door when you’re not home and even talk to them! Video history gives you added security, and you can even set it up to enable people to leave you a message on it like an answering machine! They can also alert you to any motion detected outside your home.
Smart Plugs & Outlets
Smart plugs and outlets give internet connectivity to any device you plug into them. For example, plug that old lamp of yours into a smart outlet and you can now turn it on or off from your phone wherever you are! Forgot to turn the light off before leaving? No problem! Want to wake up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee filling the house? Put the coffee pot on a timer to start at the same time each morning!
[Pro Tip: Try to buy all of these smart home products from the same company for a more streamlined setup. One app to control them all!]
Thanks to the internet, many jobs and schooling can now be done from the comforts of home. This is especially helpful for seniors who may be looking to supplement their income with some part time work.
Many can now work full time from home, or even a few times per week to save on the commute. Also, side jobs that can be done on your own schedule such as selling crafts on Etsy, becoming a dog walker, and freelance writing. Depending on what and how much you want to do, there are so many options. And more opportunities are available every day!
As with online banking, we now have 24/7 access to our healthcare and the monitoring of our wellbeing.
- If you have a not-so-urgent issue or just a question, online doctor appointments are widely available for a quick diagnosis!
- Download your hospital’s app to keep track of appointments, medications, and to receive important health updates.
- Get a health smartwatch such as the Apple Watch to track your heart rate and other vitals. See calories burnt, receive real time alerts and notifications, and be automatically connected to emergency services when detected in a severe car crash or a hard fall.
- Get medications delivered to you through Amazon Pharmacy, and explore your options with the newfound CostPlus Drug Company, Mark Cuban’s answer to safe and affordable medicines with full transparency.
New Virtual “Social” Life
The introduction of social media with services such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat has given us all insight into each other’s lives in real time regardless of where we are in the world, whether friend, family, or celebrity! Simply following someone allows you to see their updates and whereabouts giving you the inside track to their day. Admittedly, this can be a bit too much for some of us, but it can be used to whatever degree you desire.
Also, take any subject you have an interest in, and chances are there are some Facebook groups or subreddits with more people just like you! Even acting as just an observer in these can be extremely helpful to see another person’s experience with something and learn more about it. Imagine Customer Support but as a readable thread!
Stay Cozy Inside
When an issue arrises, it’s now easier than ever to stay put, avoid the elements, and still make that thing happen! Need to wait around for the cable guy but want some fast food? Use a service like DoorDash to have it delivered to your step! Or is grocery shopping becoming too much of a task? Many stores now offer grocery pickup or delivery. So stay inside on that cold day and avoid the rain! 😉
Technology can also help with transportation needs, especially if you no longer drive or have mobility issues. Here are a few examples:
- Ride-sharing apps: Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft allow you to request a ride from a driver in your area, which can be helpful for getting to appointments or running errands.
- Public transportation apps: Many cities have apps that allow you to plan a trip on public transportation, including buses and trains. This can be helpful for those who don’t have access to a car.
- Delivery services: There are many delivery services that can bring groceries, medication, and other essentials right to your door. Some popular options include Instacart and Amazon Prime.
Car Safety Features
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough is vehicle safety since the implementation of airbags is on-board safety assist. Some examples of this are GM’s OnStar, Ford’s 911 Assist, and HondaLink Assist. If you have a roadside emergency, a button can be pressed to contact emergency services. Sometimes, this is even an automatic action! I know I feel safer than ever while out driving on my own. There is also:
Many new vehicles come with a version of lane control that helps keep you between the lines if you start to drift right or left. Some will help you correct course while others will warn you with a vibrating sensation in the steering wheel.
While not fully-fleshed out in its current state, vehicles are getting better and better at driving for us! For example, Ford’s BlueCruise will take the wheel for you on most major highways and interstates. And Tesla’s Autopilot enables your car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane. Crazy, right?
And no more getting out the map to plot your next drive or adventure. GPS available on devices like the Garmin and the Google Maps app and Apple Maps app right on your smartphone will help lead the way! Never get lost while driving again!
Technology also provides endless opportunities for staying entertained and having fun! There are many free-to-play mobile games that work on your smartphone or tablet. From classic games like Solitaire to new ones like Candy Crush, you are sure to find something you like. Don’t ever be bored again in the doctor’s office waiting room!
And then there are streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime that offer a wide variety of movies, TV shows, and documentaries that can be watched on a variety of devices, including smart TVs, laptops, and smartphones.
As a senior citizen, it’s important to remember that technology can greatly improve your daily life and keep you connected with loved ones. From staying informed and entertained to managing health and wellness to staying safe and secure, there are many ways that technology can help. It’s all there, we just gotta know where to look and how to navigate it. Hope this help shed some light and made some things seem a bit more within reach for you! 🙂