Tech Guide for Baby Boomers

Four ways boomers can adopt new technology to stay ahead

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With age comes experience, wisdom, retirement, and eventually…senior discounts. Nevertheless, many baby boomers (46- to 64-year-olds) are keeping pace with the younger adults when it comes to certain technology thanks to new advances that help them remain efficient and productive at home and at work. In fact, according to Forrester Research, boomers now spend more money on technology than any other demographic.

Want to know how to stay ahead? Here are four tech tips and tools that experts say will help.

Use social media to connect and stay informed. Older boomers are latching onto social media sites like Facebook faster than young adults. Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among Internet users ages 56-64 (older boomers) grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%, according a report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. “Boomers are very comfortable with technology,” says Nataki Edwards, vice president of digital strategy and operations at AARP. “They are adopting social media to not only connect to friends and family, but to solve their own individual problems and satisfy their interests. The fastest growing segment of people on Match.com [for example] is people over 50.”

Choose mobile devices that are easy to use. Desktop computers are currently the most popular with 65% of younger boomers (age 46 to 56) and 64% of older boomers, according to a Pew Center report. But tablet computers may begin to encroach on that statistic. Tablets like the iPad, which have wider screens than average mobile phones, can be very useful to boomers and others who may be suffering from deteriorating eyesight. The invention of the multi-touch screens allow users to easily enlarge small text at a whim without needing to find a settings menu, and make navigating web sites much easier.

Find games to help with mental cognition. Age Associated Memory Impairment is a common consequence of the aging process. “Games do well with baby boomers because they help with cognitive memory,” says Edwards. Today, there is no lack of simple games that help boomers stay focused and alert, with Angry Birds and Xbox Kinect Games recently becoming very popular among the group, she says. Boomers should also try games that will help them train their brain to produce real world benefits like problem solving, says Arnold Lewis, president of Ascend Partnerships, a software development company that creates products for older populations. He recommends that boomers subscribe to Luminosity, an online library of brain games that exercise your brain across five cognitive areas including speed, flexibility, memory, attention and problem-solving.

Download tools to help stay organized: With the loss of memory comes the inability to stay organized. There is a multitude of software products and mobile applications that provide multiple opportunities for boomers to securely manage their personal affairs. For example, the new AARP mobile app can be scanned at retail shops across the country to provide discounts. If a boomer neglects to carry their card with them, they can always pull out their phone and still receive their AARP discount. There are also products like InformationSafe, a software that Lewis developed to give boomers a way to digitally capture all of their important records in a centralized location. Users can store and manage insurance policies, bank account numbers, and legal agreements along with the usernames and passwords associated with each.

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