Older Generation and Technology – An article from the NEW YORK TIMES

Older Generation and Technology – An article from the NEW YORK TIMES

 

When Facebook was born in 2004, the oldest baby boomers were in their late 50s, and older members of the silent generation were reaching their early 80s. If you thought they were going to sit back and let gifs, emojis and status updates pass them by, you were wrong, according to new research.
In a survey of over 350 American adults between the ages of 60 and 86, researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that older people enjoy the same things their younger counterparts do: using Facebook to bond with old friends and develop relationships with like-minded people. They also like to keep tabs on their loved ones.
These motivations sound awfully similar to those that attracted college students, Facebook’s first colonizers, to the platform — save for one key detail. For many surveyed, seeing photos and video of grandchildren were a powerful lure, according to S. Shyam Sundar, a co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State, who worked on the survey.
“That was primarily the biggest driver,” Mr. Sundar said, “and the ease with which they can maintain what I call social surveillance, and keep an eye on what’s going on with their children and grandchildren.”
I decided to add my own survey to the research by interviewing my 61-year-old father, Richard, who has had me under Facebook surveillance recently.
From an academic-research standpoint, he’s on the younger side of being old — and, like many his age, he feels younger. He successfully avoided social media for years. But after returning home to Indiana from my wedding a couple of months ago, he wanted to be better at keeping in touch with family and with the friends he remembers from my childhood. He told me over Facebook chat (naturally) that his curiosity about what others were up to was his main motivator in finally learning to navigate Facebook.
Now, like the rest of us, he’s hooked. He’s had a ball wishing happy birthday to my friends, commenting on our status updates and sharing his own life’s highlights. He still signs comments with his initials, but he’s learning. He has even joined a Facebook group for local music enthusiasts, sharing memories about his favorite concert (The Beatles in 1964) and photos of his drum set.
“Initially, I think I viewed it as something ‘newfangled’ that only the younger computer-generation used,” he said. “Then, like probably everybody, I started to become hooked as I saw just how expansive it is, and how much it seems to literally touch so many lives.”
The findings might not come as any surprise to countless members of the digital-savvy generations who have watched (and cringed) as their parents fell in love with Facebook, but researchers say the online lives of older adults, who are a part of the fastest-growing demographic on social media, are much more mysterious than the much-scrutinized behaviors of younger generations.
As Facebook continues to be a bigger part of American life, the ever-growing population of older Americans is figuring out how to adapt. As people grow older, peer communication through chatting, status updates and commenting will become more important, Ms. Sundar said, and Facebook will need to adapt tools that are suited for an aging audience.
Research shows that older Americans are living longer than previous generations, and many of them prefer to stay in their homes, often called aging in place. Independent seniors will need to learn to use digital tools that will keep them engaged — and allow them to reach out for help if they need it, Mr. Sundar said
“The whole idea is to kind of give people a chance to be social when there are physical constraints,” Mr. Sundar said, “Create a virtual retirement community, if you will.”
Update: In reaction to this story, several readers shared stories of their own parents and grandparents on Facebook. Here are a few highlights:
• “My grandfather writes LOL on everything. But the funny thing is that he thinks that it stands for lots of love. My wife’s grandfather is the best, he literally writes ‘LIKE’ instead of liking the post.” – Brendan McCaffrey
• “When I was tagged in a lot of pictures from an all-day drinking event and my Grandmother posted on my wall ‘Do you ever have time to study?’ THANKS GRANDMA!” – Brogan Bunnell
• “I had to unfriend my mom on Facebook because she ‘over-comments’ on every single post. I’ve explained to her in person that this is why we aren’t friends on Facebook. I made a post the other day and accidentally had the privacy setting set to public. My mom texted me her comments on my post by phone, and then sent a follow up text to clarify that she sent the text because she can’t comment on my post on Facebook, and follows it up with another Facebook friend request. She totally missed the point.” – Aimee Myers Lynch
• “Someone I know meant to PM his son his tax return, but instead publicly posted it and tagged them in it.” – Moody Mohamed
LINK TO NEW YORK TIMES STORY IS HERE     http://nyti.ms/23y22KZ

Diginanna is alive and kicking

Diginanna is alive and kicking

  • It is now mid August and the summer is coming to an end. DigiNanna has been very busy with her family this summer and neglected her blogging. Apologies for this. It is nearly time to go back to school and college and time for DigiNanna to go back to blogging.  I have promised you of new things to come and I am working with my business partner on making DigiNanna a more interactive place to visit.  We are working on updating the website and improving the look.  DigiNanna will be a much better resource providing informative ‘SILVER LINKS‘ to keep all of you surfers updated.  Do you have a story to share with our readers ?  What did you do with your summer ? How do you get on with social media ?  I am sure at least one of you silver surfers has a story to tell.  If you do, link up with me through my contact page.  Enjoy the rest of your summer and get surfing with DigiNanna in the future.
12 Summer Safety Tips for the Elderly

12 Summer Safety Tips for the Elderly



The summertime is a time of fun and relaxation for most people. But for seniors, the heat and sun can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are some great tips that the elderly, as well as their caregivers, can use to make sure they have a fun, safe summer.

  1. Stay Hydrated
    Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. They also can become less aware of their thirst and have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes. Remember to drink water often, and be sure to pack some for those long summer drives.Dr. William Greenough, of Johns Hopkins Geriatric Centre, says that caregivers should make sure seniors are drinking sweat replacement products (that contain salt and potassium) to replace water they lose during the summer.
  2. Talk to Your Doctor
    Check with your medical team to make sure any medications you are on won’t be affected by higher temperatures — especially if you don’t have air conditioning in your home. Some medications are less effective if stored at temperatures higher than room temperature (approximately 78 degrees Fahrenheit), and the last thing anyone wants is for a preventable medical condition to become aggravated due to high temperatures.
  3. Keep Your Cool
    Even small increases in temperature can shorten the life expectancy for seniors who are coping with chronic medical conditions. Shopping malls, movie theaters and libraries provide welcome, cool spaces if a senior’s own home isn’t air conditioned. They also afford a great opportunity to get out of the house and get some exercise, without the exhaustion of the heat. Contact your local Area Agency on Ageing to inquire if there are any programs to assist seniors with fewer resources to get air conditioners. “Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature,” shares Dr. Lubna Javed of Health Care Partners Medical Group. “Some chronic medical conditions and prescription medications can impair the body’s ability to react efficiently to rising temperature.”
  4. Stay in Touch
    High temperatures can be life-threatening, so communication plays an important role in ensuring the safety of the elderly. For seniors, you should let friends and family know if you’ll be spending an extended period of time outdoors, even if you’re only gardening.  “Caregivers should check on the health and welfare of their loved ones at least twice a day,” suggests Dr. Javed.
  5. Meet Your Neighbours
    Get in touch with those who live in your neighbourhood and learn a bit about them and their schedules. If you are elderly, see if a younger neighbour — perhaps even one of their kids — can come by and check on you occasionally to make sure everything is all right. The extra company and friendship that can result is a bonus!
  6. Know Who to Call
    Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and place them in an easy to access area. This way, the right people can be called to help quickly preventing any further issues or preventing medical problems from getting worse.
  7. Wear the Right Stuff
    Everyone, including seniors, should dress for the weather. When it’s warm out, some people find natural fabrics (such as cotton) to be cooler than synthetic fibres. Stock your summer wardrobe with light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes to help feel cooler and more comfortable.
  8. Protect Your Eyes
    Vision loss can be common among the elderly, and too much exposure to the sun can irritate eyes and cause further damage. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and preserve your vision.
  9. Know the Risks of Hyperthermia
    During the summer, be particularly cautious about abnormally high body temperatures — a condition known as Hyperthermia. Heat stroke is an advanced form of Hyperthermia that can be life-threatening. Make sure to know the warning signs and get medical attention immediately if you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms:”Elderly individuals have a harder time knowing when they are dehydrated and their bodies have more difficulty regulating their temperatures,” says Dr. Ronan Factora of the Cleveland Clinic says. “As a result, they are more prone to heat stroke.”  If you (or an elderly loved one) start to feel any of these symptoms, ask for medical help and then get out of the heat, lie down and place ice packs on your body.

    • Body temperature greater than 104 degrees
    • A change in behaviour, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy
    • Dry, flushed skin
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Headache
    • Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse
    • Not sweating, even if it’s hot out
    • Fainting
  10. Rub on Sunscreen and Wear Hats
    Everyone, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. The elderly especially need the extra sun protection to help keep them healthy. Caregivers, family and friends can help by gently reminding loved ones about applying sunscreen and helping to put it on when necessary. Hats are also a great idea, especially for those with light coloured hair and those with only distant memories of a full head of hair.
  11. Apply Bug Spray
    The elderly is particularly prone to West Nile Virus and encephalitis, Dr. Factora notes. If you live in areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes and where West Nile Virus is present, and if you spend a lot of time outdoors (particularly at night), use mosquito repellent to help reduce the risk of getting bit by a mosquito carrying this virus.
  12. Exercise Smart
    If you enjoy outdoor activities such as walking or gardening, make sure to wear the proper clothing and protective gear. It is also important to keep track of time. Do not stay out for long periods and make sure to drink even more water than usual when exercising. Also consider getting outdoor exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is not at its peak.

If you follow these tips, there’s no reason you can’t have an enjoyable and fun-filled summer — no matter how old you are.