It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without the internet. But almost half of older Belgians – those between 65 and 74 – have never “surfed the ’net”. And that’s a pity, because going online has a lot to offer older people. ”
It’s still a big step for older people to go online, but they’re missing the opportunity to use an extra source of information. So what reasons do older people give for not being online?
4 Reasons why older people stay off the Internet
- The biggest reason why older people don’t surf the net is that they don’t see the use of it. As many as 53% of Flemish people think its pointless. That’s understandable in a way, because they grew up without it. But on the other hand it’s a pity because it has so much to offer. We’ll talk about that in a moment…
- “You can’t like what you don’t know about”; sounds like a cliché – but of course it’s no less true for that! Almost half of older Flemish people admit they don’t know how the Internet works. 34% are unable to find the information they need online.
- The oldest cohort, those over 75, think they’re too old to start using the Internet.
- Older people are more fearful than the young that they’ll be victims of cyber-crime. They’re more likely to read the conditions of “cookies”, and they “accept” them less often.
Internet use improves the quality of life for older people.
Although many older people have never surfed the ’net all the same we are seeing a rising trend in the number of people over 65 going online. Almost 50% of older people have a Smartphone or an iPad – and for good reason, because the Internet is becoming ever more accessible! You can read here how, thanks to the Internet, older people can live independent lives for longer.
- The Internet keeps dementia at bay
Tablets and Smartphones are the perfect tools for doing memory-exercises. There is an enormously wide range of brain-training apps, from things like online chess to puzzles. And tablets and Smartphones work more intuitively than a computer, so they’re easier to use. And there’s more – it’s possible to remain mentally active in all sorts of ways. There are things like cookery programmes, you can read the News websites, and of course there’s online banking. These are the top 4 apps for older people:
- ‘Luisterbieb’ (audio- books library)
Older people can enjoy the best audio-books. Via [Het Geluidshuis] Belgian series such as Den Elfde van den Elfde are available for purchase as radio plays.
- ‘ “MedAlert”
This reminds older people to take their medicines
- “The Red Cross ‘First Aid’ app
Ensures older people know what to do if there’s an accident
Lets older people play either with friends, or people they’ve never met. The idea is to earn points by finding as many words as possible. Great fun – and good for the brain!
Looking for more useful apps? Go here to find the best 10 apps for older people.
- Facebook as the remedy for social isolation
A “friend request” from the lady next door? Or a “like” from Grandma? That’s commonplace nowadays. Facebook is the most popular network for the over-65’s, especially among women. Older users report that they log-in several times a day; but still only 17% of older people in Flanders have a Facebook account. But social media can combat the feeling of loneliness. Even from a distance you can keep up to date with what your friends and family are up to. It’s also nice for older people to re-establish contact with old acquaintances.
- Help is always available online
Surfing Seniors have got a pretty wide trawl-net. There’s access to no end of articles and they can use social media to ask for advice from friends and family. They can look at the weather forecast, check when the bus is coming, or order a hot meal delivered to the door. One thing’s certain, though: the Internet gives you more independence.
More and more Belgian old folks are discovering the Internet. More of them are using mobile devices, and social network sites and mobile chat programs. You could say they’re storming the Web!
And that’s excellent news, because more older people than ever before are able to use the Internet as a source of information, for access to services and to communicate. And among other things that reduces the risk of both social isolation and dementia.
But more than that; healthcare services are going to become more and more digitalized. But what it comes down to is that the Internet will make older people’s lives easier, and that will enable them to live independently at home for longer.
How can you get started?
Would you like to teach your parents or grandparents the basics of the Internet?
- Perhaps the Internet Course for the Elderly [LINK] is a good idea? The content is very simple and you can learn at your own pace.
- As an Internet user yourself perhaps you’re the best teacher for your parents or grandparents? Start with small steps. For example, show them how to send a basic e-mail. Or, even easier, start with clicking through from one page to another. Best of luck…!