For many seniors and veterans, this is a brave, new world. The 21st Century began with Internet technology already a normal part of most Americans lives. Seniors and veterans are no exception: Many use the Internet and benefit from doing so.
Here are five specific ways that access to the Internet can improve the lives of seniors and veterans:
1) Access to useful information
Even if seniors are homebound, they can have the world at their fingertips with access to the Internet. Everything once found only in brick-and-mortar libraries can now be found virtually, in a digital format. Boundless information exists: Hobbies and interests can be explored, magazines and articles can be read, recipes can be found, songs can be heard — all with a few clicks of a mouse button.
2) Link to assistance
Various help for seniors and veterans, as well as for their family and caregivers, can be located via the Internet. Senior assistance is available in all areas of life, including health, finances, and relationships. In particular, information that is very specific and favorable to the assistance and care of veterans can be found via many online websites as well. The Department of Veteran Affairs website is an excellent example of such a site and is a great place to start: http://www.va.gov/opa/persona/index.asp. Beyond the VA site, there are also “advocate” sites that can help advise veterans and their families in finding assistance and using it to their advantage.
3) Pathway to learning
Many seniors and veterans like to “stay young” by keeping their brains active. Pursuing an education is a great way to keep one’s brain engages, and thanks to the Internet, seniors and veterans can attend classes online, in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. Options include being able to take college courses online for a degree, to adult education classes that allow seniors and veterans to learn skills that enhance their everyday lives. Some courses on the Internet are free of charge!
4) Connections to long-lost friends and family
Thanks to social media entities such as Facebook and LinkedIn, anyone can look up, find, and reconnect with friends and family that hasn’t been seen or talked to for decades. People have an amazing ability to pick up where they left off and continue wonderful and fulfilling friendships via social media.
5) Means of communication
Not only can seniors and veterans connect with others, but they can stay connected, by using various online tools to communicate with others. Email, chat programs, social media, and software such as Skype help seniors and veterans communicate easily, efficiently, and economically with friends and family.
Stay safe while surfing!
Sadly, whenever people connect, whether it’s done virtually or in person, there are always those individuals who wish to cause harm to others. Common sense dictates that caution be used when surfing the Internet and reaching out to people not known outside of the virtual reality of social media. When going online, it’s good to first have an “Internet surfing buddy”: Just as you should never go swimming in a body of water alone, it is also not wise to wade into Internet “waters” solo. The senior and/or veteran’s Internet activities can be easily monitored by a trusted, caring, impartial, and objective observer who knowingly shares access to the senior’s or veteran’s account. This ensures that the senior or veteran avoids contact with anyone with malicious intentions and helps protect them from online criminal activity.
With the proper safety assurances in place, the Internet can be a fascinating, fun, and fulfilling experience for seniors and veterans, and as such, should not be ignored as an option for such beneficial experiences!