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Cyber Safety Tips for the Tech-y Senior

By August 13, 2015Aging in Place

The Internet is undoubtedly the biggest thing since sliced bread. Millennials have grown up with it, but what about seniors? Current statistics show that 53 percent of seniors surf the web and benefit from its many advantages. For those who are not online now, they might like to learn. Just ask them!

While there are many pitfalls awaiting anyone on the web like cyber-crooks and identity theft, the advantages are far more numerous. Seniors can save time and money, manage many important affairs, reduce isolation and improve health, all through the Internet.

Regular personal health monitoring can be kept setup for seniors and help to close part of the gap created by a shortage of home health programs. Studies are being conducted to develop technology that will help prevent falls in the home. New tools such as these can reduce costs and keep seniors in their homes longer.

Medication adherence can be greatly improved with technology. A smartphone or e-mail can be scheduled to send notifications to remind a senior that it’s time to take medication.

For seniors who live far away from family members, the Internet can make the miles disappear. Social media, Skype video calls, and e-mails allow seniors to stay connected and see the new baby in the family!

Whether it’s a bank, grocery store, or clothing outlet, it is possible to shop online and have items delivered to the senior’s home. Cable and electric bills can also be paid online.

One worry for anyone who is online is cyber-security. How do you teach seniors, who tend to be more trusting, to avoid scams? Here is a common scam that will serve as a good teaching example: “You receive an e-mail from Jack who claims to be your daughter’s best friend. He says he is in the Bahamas, all his money has been stolen, and he is asking you to send him money. The most important question is, even if you know someone named Jack, wouldn’t he be calling you? Never, EVER, send money over the Internet.”

Establish these rules and write them down to post next to the senior’s computer:

  • Never open a suspicious email or link. Delete the message immediately.
  • Keep personal and financial information, if possible, on an external hard drive. Plug it in only when needed; otherwise keep it in a secure place.
  • In particularly sensitive cases, such as bank accounts, set up “multifactor” authentication, which in lay terms means you will have to enter your own secret password and security question answer before gaining access.
  • Let’s help to get more seniors on the web. We can become a closer community. In a digital world that is evolving every day, we can use it to improve the lives of our seniors.

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