Over last few centuries, technology has had a significant impact on lives of human beings in all spheres of action. Starting from industrial revolution, invention of electricity, and then explosion in internet and communication technology have dramatically changed the way not only the businesses operate but also individuals live and spend time. But for elders it has been a boom. We may still remember our parents writing a letter to us when we were young (in 1960s), delivering it at post office and then waiting days together to get reply. We cannot forget our parents spending hours together for a telephone connection to speak to us through distant calling mechanism (popularly known as STD). There was no end to waiting, and consequent 'anxiety'.
We are lucky that we are currently living in this technology driven world where every transaction can happen immediately, with touch of the finger and without moving outside the comforts of home. Senior citizens should therefore embrace technology in all possible ways as the benefits are immense and mind boggling.
Advantages of technology:
If we as seniors have some hearing problems, WhatsApp communications help us to communicate with rapid speed. Language is no barrier as in WhatsApp we can send messages in Indian languages too. If we want to see and talk, video communication comes handy. We can see our children or grandchildren as we see them across us and can talk.
Nobody can replace the intimacy of physical interaction but definitely the quickness and easiness of communication has been enabled by advent of technology. One can also send emails to children / grandchildren / friends, and keep themselves busy.
Participating / attending events / programs:
This is possibly the biggest boon of technological development. Mobility is an issue with elders and they are sometimes not in a position to physically attend many of the programs/ events as these are taking place at a distance. One can speak, dance, sing, recite a poem, bless someone, hear someone else speaking, all at a distance of hundreds of kilometers and all through technological means.
At 'My Retired Life Foundation' (MRLF), we have organized hundreds of our programs through Zoom medium and these have been a great success. Many of our members are very happy and wait for these virtual programs as these give them an opportunity to meet virtually (without going out) on a regular basis. This has possibly been the biggest gift of technology in recent times for elders for whom mobility is a question mark.
Spending time fruitfully:
Now the computers are 'best friends' of older people. It can cater to all types of needs of an elderly. They can listen to musical programs / bhajans / TED talks / any other talks through YouTube. They can spend time in playing computer games or participate in online chess competitions.
They can search for new information like travel destinations or learning new hobbies like musical instrument, song, etc. For every facility, guide is available in online medium. The elders need to learn the technique of searching and then going into depth.
Building social connect:
Technology offers a grand way to increase this social connect. One can do so by becoming members of WhatsApp groups of like-minded people, opening Facebook accounts and getting in touch with school / college / office friends and build a community or getting into an online community of similar interest people like religious / travelling groups, etc. and then build social contacts. It goes a long way in removing the sense of loneliness among elderly.
Similarly, elders who are good in speaking and want to spread words of their ideas can do so through 'YouTube' or 'Podcast' or write a 'Blog' and then invite others to be part of the same.
Elders must also understand the negative sides of technology. They must be aware of the cyber security aspects. Best way is to get trained from a 'younger generation mentor' about the way to go. In case of any doubt or clarification, they should immediately get in touch with a knowledgeable person. They should take all precautions not to be trapped in any unhealthy thing of the internet world. If they can keep themselves away from such negative aspects, technology is the biggest gift of the modern-day world and all the elders must adopt and adapt to it as fast as they can.
(Dr A K Sen Gupta is a Chief Trustee, My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 9821128103.)
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