Do seniors tweet?

by Jan Simpson

My two children spend a lot of their free time plugged into their many (and growing!) social networks – their Facebook, their Twitter, on their smart phones, their laptops, e-mailing, texting, status-updating.  Today’s technology may seem a little overwhelming (not to mention unnecessary) to you—so I can only imagine how your parents might feel, who might have grown up when every telephone call was connected by an operator or their correspondences written long-hand.

A few months back we posted about connecting aging adults to Skype so they might stay in touch with their families, and about considering getting them an iPad for easy e-mailing, picture viewing, movie watching, etc.  If  you or their grandchildren have a Facebook, perhaps your parents should create one, too. It is a little frightening to picture my elderly father browsing the stuff with which today’s 20-somethings brandish their profiles, but it would have been a fantastic way for him to stay connected with me and his grandchildren through their high school and college years.

So how might we get our parents connected to today’s social media?  I asked an expert: a twenty-one year old college junior who writes a successful music blog.  Here is his advice: Start with letting them play around with the product.  Bring them to the Apple store and show them the iPad; show them your Facebook or Blackberry; get them comfortable with the potentially intimidating formats. Maybe even get them set up on a blog?  There are a handful of free and easy-to-use blogging formats like Blogspot, WordPress, and the growing Tumblr.  As your parents get older, they undoubtedly have an enormous treasure trove of memories and reflections they want to share—a blog would be a great way for them to do that.

All of this is certainly possible.  Facebook was the 45th most visited site by seniors last year; it’s risen to #3 this year.  You might have missed this slice of soft news, but the world’s oldest Twitter user died this past summer at 104:

Bean’s online activity drew headlines in recent years because of her age, and she had been called the world’s oldest Twitter user, though that is difficult to verify. She became a member of Facebook at age 102, but she quickly migrated to Twitter because it was easier, she said, and because she could have more followers.  She had maxed out her friend limit on Facebook. Earlier this year, Bean tweeted that she had 25,000 pending friend requests.

You can even tell seniors that their tweets are allowed to start “When I was young…” Just remind them there’s a 140 character limit!!

Do your parents or older loved ones use social media?

©Circle of Life Partners™

Toys For Your Elder Parents: Apple’s iPad

by Jan Simpson

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the appeal of getting your older family members hooked up to video-call software Skype that allows face-to-face conversation with your loved one free of charge over a computer.  Being technically indifferent and often pressed for time, I am attracted to gadgets that are easy-to-use and ones that allow me to reach out to and stay connected with older family members regardless of where they reside. I look for products that will enhance life without the complexity that often accompanies the adoption of new technology.

I wonder how many of you have purchased Apple’s new iPad?  Business Week reports that the device, which launched in April and has already sold over 3 million units,  is proving to be a hit with elders who are drawn to it’s easy-to-use touch screen and “intuitive interface” which allows for those with no background in computers to easily navigate the device.

With an iPad, an older loved one can easily download books and music, surf the web, and stimulate their minds through sites such as www.happyneuron.com. Like Skype, the iPad can help your family stay connected, allowing your parents to send e-mails and explore instant messaging applications—you never know, maybe they’ll even get pulled into the world of Facebook and Twitter like so many of us. Can you envision your 17-year-old daughter tweeting at grandma?  That may seem unlikely today, but that prospect might not be that far off. Recently, the Pew Research Center reported the following statistic: “Between April 2009 and May, the percentage of internet users 50 and up who said they use social-networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has risen from 22 percent to 42 percent. Respondents 65 and older reported a 100 percent increase.”  Who knows, a Facebook friend request from your 80-year-old father might be waiting for you in your inbox!

It’s expensive—iPad’s start at $499—but if it’s an investment they can make, it might add a new and exciting dimension to their lives.

Are your parents and older family members plugged into the tech world?  Let us know in the comments section below.

photo credit: inquisitr

©Circle of Life Partners™

Toys For Your Elder Parents: Skype

It wasn’t easy convincing my mother-in-law that Skype was for her.  More than just an opportunity to occasionally check in on her, the video-conferencing software would send our boisterous voices and the laughter of my children vibrating through her home. While at first a bit resistant, suggesting that we might be wasting our time as we installed the software onto her computer, by the end of the second video-call she had fetched her sister from the first floor to share in the wonders of Skype; her eyes were glowing, her smile wide, and I knew this would be only one of many calls to her New York home.

Skype is a fantastic and fun way to stay connected with your parents, not only to make sure they’re doing okay and getting the care they need, but also a way to share your love face-to-face even when you’re miles apart. Don’t worry if they insist they don’t want it – by the third or fourth call they’ll be hooked.  Download Skype here.

Do your parents use Skype?

photo credit: www.skype.com

©Circle of Life Partners™