For many older adults, barriers like a lack of access to the internet or the confidence to learn new tech skills can prevent them from developing the technological abilities needed to thrive in life.
In the nearly two decades since starting from a basement in Brooklyn, OATS has worked with tens of thousands of older adults across the country to help them use technology. By working with local partners to deliver programming specially designed for older adults, the OATS team has seen first-hand the ability of technology to make seniors more independent, connected to friends and loved ones, and better prepared to handle everyday tasks and challenges.
While more older adults are growing comfortable using technology thanks to a variety of available courses, a huge digital divide still remains in the United States that leaves millions of older adults lacking basic Internet access. In fact, the 2021 study from OATS and the Humana Foundation found that as many as 22 million older adults don’t have wire-line broadband access at home.
In the article Helping Older Adults Get Comfortable with Technology Use, included in the Society of Certified Senior Advisors Number 87 Journal, OATS discusses how other programs, people, and organizations help contribute to helping older adults get comfortable using technology. After reflecting on his years of experience, OATS Executive Director Tom Kamber offered up his top recommendations:
- Before recommending technologies, ask about user patterns and what the user’s goals are;
- Over-engineer your solution and assume a longer adoption period to help older adults learn how to use new devices, apps, or software;
- Empower older adults to seek out cutting-edge technology to avoid frustration and help them thrive with the most up-to-date software and applications.