Myth #37 – Old People Don’t Do On-Line

I’m sure you, to one degree or another, likely agree with the title of this post. Old people are simply not tech-savvy to any degree. When I suggested to the management here at my RetCom (retirement community) home that we should have an on-line interface for communications with the residents, I was given that line. With nothing to back my suggestion up I let it drop. That is, until I recently had a tour of an “active” RetCom a few weeks ago.

When I brought up the topic of an on-line interface between the staff and the residents, I was shown a very impressive on-line interface including the daily menus at the four dining options and ways to make reservations, the activities for each day, and information and discussion sites for all the clubs and activities. It was sizable from a cell phone to a desktop screen. I wish I had taken a snapshot of the app, but just didn’t think about it at the time.

The marketing director there said that when people join the community they are given the option of getting their daily information via paper or an on-line site. Many choose paper but quickly switch to on-line when they see the tool demonstrated. Every resident apartment has a small basket outside their residence. If that basket includes a colored ribbon, it means they want paper copies. Presently, approximately 75% of the residents forego the paper copies and use the on-line version. Besides saving lots of trees needed to combat global warming, it makes life easier for all involved. This facility, like most in this category, has an average resident age of 84. The age span, with a few exceptions, is likely 70 – 100 years old, so old people can become tech-savvy if provided the opportunity.

In the coming years when more of the Baby-Boomer generation join RetComs in much larger numbers, community administrator’s have to recognize that they need to seriously update their often two-decade old practices which includes an ocean of daily paper, if they want to attract us Boomers.

When you are visiting a possible future RetCom home for yourself or a loved one, don’t forget to ask them about their on-line presence. If they indicate that, except for general website advertisements of their facilities, they don’t have any then you might want to seriously note that fact in the “con” side of your decision ledger. The decision to forego on-line interactions just might indicate how forward-thinking the facility actually is.

6 thoughts on “Myth #37 – Old People Don’t Do On-Line

  1. first, back in Radio Shack days, I wanted a computer. When I got one, I loved it, but as they improved, I upgraded whenever I could afford to. Online-itude!!! The at home passport to the world, both for information and making friends worldwide. I’m 75 and would give up many mod-cons before losing online access…just sayin’.


    1. My first computer was like yours, a TRS-80. I spent hours on it and loved every minute. I’m also 75,but will cross over 76 next week. 😎. It looks like we have a lot in common, Marquita. If we yell loud enough maybe some of those youngsters out there will quit saying we Baby Boomer don’t do on-line.


  2. My mom is 90 and uses her iPhone and iPad daily. You are right to push for online options. I know my mom is probably an outlier, but she has a fair number of friends that are also online.


    1. Hi Laurel, a 90 year-old with and iPad and iPhone, that sure shakes that myth doesn’t it. I have been thinking about bringing up a “Resident’s Forum blog for my RetCom, just to see how many in my community are also on-line. You two, have convinced me that the effort to do that might be very rewarding. Thanks to both of you…


  3. My first computer was 1981’s “portable” Osborne 1. With its five-inch screen and 24.5 pound weight, its portability was debatable. The user interface, of course, was negligible. I had to know all the DOS commands to get to the program I wanted. My toddler would stand behind me on the chair and soon had memorized all those DOS commands she would need to get to a word processing program to “write.” For her generation, computers are native to her world, not something intimidating, but I’ve always had a computer since. My big old slide rule, inherited from my father and used in my physics and math classes sits on the table where I work, though.


    1. Hi Linda, and thanks for your story. I hope that at least a few RetCom administrators will read this post and comments, and realize how important it is to us Baby Boomers. In these times of global warming, we need all the trees we can get. Quit generating useless paper.


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