One can easily see how maintaining a vital mind positively effects our quality of life, but how important is older learning and technology in this regard? There are certainly a number of aspects to aging that we cannot control but there are also many steps we can take to be our best selves at any stage of life. Learning technology has always been challenging for me so, it is quite remarkable that at age 75, it has become a major part of my everyday life. In this installment of my blog series, Aging Gracefully
, I will share the perspectives I’ve gained from my own techno journey.
Technology and Aging Gracefully
The baby boomer generation will not only live longer but enjoy a more vibrant old age. Advances in medical technology and communications will allow boomers to maintain their mobility and independence longer than any previous generation. For the first time in history, the challenge will be to keep our minds as vital and healthy as our bodies and personal technology will be key.
For many reading this blog, most likely we have some of the latest technology available, like smartphones, tablets and iPads, laptops, smart watches, play video games with our children, Skype, health tracking of some kind and GPS. As we age, we may need readily available hearing aids and other assisted devices. Clearly we will be in a better position to be responsible for our own healthcare, how we communicate with medical providers, and so on. Learning and becoming fluid in these new technologies can go beyond promoting our health and also help us to keep feeling young.
We can learn new tricks:
Recently I saw this video for the 2nd time and although I laughed again, I did stop when I recognized myself. It wasn’t too long ago that I was and still am the older learner in regards to technology. I retired from my 30 years as a career counselor just before they delivered computers to our office. I was so relieved I didn’t have to learn any new technology to help people. On return visits I saw my co counselor who was 30 years younger than me, using the computer to help them update resumes, hand out resources to start their job search and a long list of URLs.
Fast forward 8 years into retirement and I was exploring courses. It was always something I said I would do when I had more time. One course led to another and at age 68 I created a business making beaded jewelry. I still thought I was safe from having to learn technology, only to discover that when my daughter who had joined me after the first few years and I decided to reduce the number of live craft shows and focus on an online business, my own entry into technology was inevitable. How does someone who was a technophobe end up blogging weekly and being responsible for several of her own social media platforms? I sometimes forget that my ‘real’ business is creating handcrafted unique beaded jewelry, with my artistic daughter, although I have read that marketing is my ‘real’ business given we have an ecommerce website: https://earthandmoondesign.com
Learning in Adulthood
Lifelong learning did not suddenly appear on the horizon because technology struck. Learning begins at birth and never has to stop. Our reasons to continue and what we decide to learn will vary from person to person. I am not the only one who knows that learning technology can occur later in life. My goodness, every college has classes set up to teach seniors. A new occupation has arisen, Computer Teacher for Seniors. It has been proven that older people can learn technology although our learning curve is slower and perhaps our patience with learning is too. I have accepted the fact that I will never catch up as it is always changing. My kids are my prime instructors, webinars and tutorials comes next and a few savvy friends who have mastered their iphones. We recently laughed hysterically when we realized that instead of spending our monthly dinner discussing ailments of our partners, we were figuring out how to use our phone calendars.
My techno journey has taught me a lot about aging gracefully. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I may not be able to do it all or learn as fast as I’d like to and I’m learning to be patient with myself and persevere through the inevitable frustrations.
There are still many negative stereotypes lurking in institutions and in peoples minds about aging and our ability to age gracefully. However, we are in a better position to really be responsible for ourselves. Technology is the key and by taking our own steps toward self empowerment now, it will make our later years be more productive and fulfilling. The report is that there are more than a quarter million Americans who turn 65 each month. That is a lot of future older people. It has been referred to as the “Silver Tsunami” and will call for the redefining of what it means to age.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned is a change in my attitude. I now longer feel that I’m growing old, I’m just growing.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal made the following point upon which I agree, “If we see aging in terms of opportunity and growth, our bodies respond in kind.”