The Senior Citizen Embraces the Internet

by: Elle Wood

I just heard words I never expected to hear from my mother: “Well, why don’t you just email it to me as an attachment?” This is a woman who owned, and presumably used, her computer for 3 years before she discovered she could minimize a window! Now, lo and behold, she’s almost, dare I say, becoming comfortable with using that amazing machine in her study.

Like my mother, more and more senior citizens are utilizing their computers beyond playing their favorite card games. They are discovering that the Internet can connect them, cheaply and easily, to friends old and new. Grandparents can stay more in tune with little Josh’s first steps or Hannah’s piano recital when proud parents send pictures and video clips. Far-flung families can post regular updates and accomplishments on personal blogs or websites (made simple and almost professional looking with a free application like WordPress). Voice Over Internet Providers and cell phone packages have made even the simple act of keeping in touch by phone much cheaper.

In addition to staying connected with family, seniors are discovering that the Internet can open them up to new acquaintances. Last summer, thousands mourned the death of Australian Olive Riley, whom they had grown to love through her posts. Readers from around the world regularly logged on to share her thoughts and memories. Olive started blogging at the age of 107.

No matter what their interests, senior citizens can discover plenty of others to share them. Just a quick perusal of a WordPress gallery shows websites dedicated to people’s dogs, hobbies, recipes or neighborhoods. At a time when age slows a person down and prevents one from venturing out very often, it’s a wonderful boon to be able to connect with others from the comfort of home. Whether checking Lorna’s post to discover what’s new in her retirement village in Florida or discovering that new friend Harold is a great partner for online bridge games, seniors find their world opening rather than closing.

While I don’t expect (or even hope!) to find videos of my mother popping up on YouTube anytime soon, I’m happy for her and her fellow senior citizens that the wonders of technology can open her world wider even as physical constraints might be making it narrower.