Silver surfers: how technology enriches seniors’ lives

Technological advancements are rapidly changing many aspects of our society and lives. For the better! Thanks to the Internet, we can now stay informed and in touch more easily than ever. Today, a growing number of people over the age of 65 have also discovered the advantages of going online. Find out how you, too, can join the ranks of so-called silver surfers – and learn what you stand to gain.

Where do you catch up on the latest news? Where do you go if you need information for an upcoming holiday? What do you use to call family and friends? How do you communicate with people in writing? Where do you shop, do your banking and deal with service providers? In the past, most of us would have answered these questions as follows:

  • I follow the news in the newspaper or watch the telly at a set time every day to watch the news.
  • I get information for my holiday from a travel agent or from the library.
  • I pick up my landline phone to call those close to me
  • I compose letters and post them if I need to contact someone in writing.
  • I shop in nearby stores, bank at my local branch and deal with service providers on the phone or in person at a local office.

Today, however, widespread internet access makes things look markedly different. Nowadays, people often read the latest headlines from online news sources on a computer or laptop. Or go online to book a holiday and learn more about a destination, or may make video calls. Email enables millions each day to send written communication instantly – without waiting for the postman to come. Online shopping, online banking and service providers' online help desks make it possible to accomplish everyday tasks from the comfort of your own home. Applications, commonly known as 'apps', grant you direct access to information or functions on your smart device.

Embrace meaningful connections

Technology has made life more fulfilling for the silver generation by keeping them better connected to the world and to their loved ones. All you need to go online is a broadband connection and a computer, laptop or smart device, such as smartphone or tablet. Imagine how exciting it is to write an email to a relative or friend across the globe and they receive it a few seconds after you click to send it. If you have grandchildren or children living abroad or on the other side of country, video calls are a wonderful way to stay in touch and participate in each other’s lives. It makes a difference when you can see their faces and speak to them in real time!

By keeping you easily connected to those near and dear to you, an internet connection can ease feelings of loneliness that can be common as we age. Online, you can also reconnect with people from your past, like old childhood friends or a former neighbour. Not only does the internet make it simple to revive past relationships, it also makes it easy to organise meet-ups or reunions because you can reach many people quickly, with minimal effort.

Social media is a catchall term for websites where people create the content, instead of a company or government agency, for example, who fill their websites with information about their products and services. On social media platforms, users post personal photos, videos and write messages to share with others in their social network, that is, the people they are connected to online. If your friends and family use social media to share information about their everyday life, consider setting up a free profile and joining in on the fun.

1, 2, 3 – online!

Interested in exploring the Internet? Here’s how to get started in three easy steps.

1 Get an internet-capable device like a PC, laptop or smartphone. Select one that is senior-friendly. It should have a bright display, large icons and simple, easy to use features. Also, make sure the font size is set to large. An integrated camera is practical for video calls and comes standard on most of the latest generation of devices.

2 Find an internet connection. You will need a stable internet connection to surf, search or play games comfortably without interruption. High speed broadband is recommendable if you want to make video calls. If you lack a connection, you can subscribe to one through a local Internet service provider. Grandchildren, children or neighbours who frequently use the Internet or are technology-affine should be able to assist you if you need help. Alternatively, you can ask a friend or neighbour with an internet connection if you can use theirs. Another option: drop by a café that advertises free Wi-Fi.

3 Surf away! Now that you have a compatible device and an internet connection, you can begin exploring the World Wide Web. If using the Internet is completely new to you, consider taking a course at a local community or senior centre. Or ask someone close to you for help.

Set off on your journey

The Internet offers so much to discover. For instance, at you will find a host of useful information about managing and living with kidney disease. From delicious kidneyfriendly recipes, to inspiring stories from other patients, to everyday healthy lifestyle tips.  

Until then, happy surfing on!