Census reports consistently show the proportion of Americans living alone rising, especially since the 1970s. In large part because of the higher rate of divorce, about 1 out of 5 people over 50 (baby boomers) now lives alone. Studies also show that the number one risk to health is being single and living alone. Solitude can lead to isolation, a greater possibility of illness and depression.
Whether it’s texting, Facebook or FaceTime, technology paves the way to connect to people, places, and ideas. Using a variety of technology tools can help prevent social isolation, especially for the Baby Boomer generation.
Whether 50 or 75, technology can be intimidating. If you are over 45 chances are you never had any formal “training” on a computer. Smartphones and tablets are ten years old or less. We basically learn as we use: fumble and bumble until we figure it out if we have the gumption.
Age discrimination runs rampant. Those over 45 can be embarrassed or afraid to take a class or ask for help because they don’t want to look dumb or out of touch. Developing the ability to use a variety of techie devices in today’s world is essential, whether you want to remain relevant in the workforce, be involved with the family, or make new friends.
Inaction breeds paralysis. There will never be progress in your skills if you don’t find a safe haven to help you move forward. Take the first step. Ask a relative, friend or trusted co-worker for a quick tutorial. Get hands-on experience. Watch online video tutorials. You have to touch and click on things. You will not break your phone, tablet or computer by opening or closing a program.
If you don’t have a person you can use for a reference look for resources at local Senior Centers, junior colleges or universities with extension classes. “Google” what you are looking for. Take a class about a particular topic you are interested in learning more about, such as social media or a specific device like an iPhone.
Learning has positive consequences. It opens doors previously closed or unknown, especially if life typically stays within your four walls or city streets.
My work with baby boomers over the past ten years centers around helping people learn to use technology. I have seen first-hand how a safe environment propels success. Learning and understanding tools previously inaccessible is empowering. Being able to participate in conversations you were never aware existed is magical.
Those that have the mindset to learn and the desire to remain or get connected to what’s happening in the world are healthier, happier and have more fulfilling lives. Start now. It is never too late to begin.
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