Technology can be overwhelming, confusing, and often scary to older adults. It seems as though everyone is glued to their phones. It takes patience and practice to learn a new skill. The benefits of online services such as Uber and Lyft, grocery shopping and delivery services, and social connection are unlimited. The internet and shopping online can be intimidating but don’t give up!
What is an App? A mobile app or mobile application is a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone/tablet or watch. Some apps are free while others charge a fee for purchase. Think of it as a loyalty card to your favorite grocery store except it is a virtual card, not one that attaches to your keychain or stored in your wallet. Why do we need apps? It is an easier way to get the local weather, get directions, schedule a ride or access the news on your smartphone or mobile device.
Uber and Lyft are ridesharing services accessed through apps on your smartphone. The app requires you to enter your contact information as well as a payment method. You can schedule your ride immediately, usually within 10 minutes. Different drivers and their locations are displayed on a map which also shows your location. There is also the choice of carpooling or a private ride. The driver selected has been informed of your name and your location. If you choose to tip the driver, you can do so during the payment process.
If this process seems overwhelming or you do not own a smartphone, there is another option called GoGoGrandparent. GoGoGrandparent turns on-demand transportation companies like Lyft and Uber into services which help families take better care of older adults. Call 1 (855) 464-6872 and wait to hear: “Thanks for calling GoGoGrandparent”. Press 0 to speak with an operator about scheduling requests in advance or anything else. You can also make selections to immediately request a Lyft or Uber to your home or to request a Lyft or Uber to where you were dropped you off last. Assigned drivers usually arrive within 15 minutes and can take you up to 100 miles in any direction. The Concierge Fee (.27 per minute) covers the costs from when a request is processed and starts monitoring service on your behalf to when it stops This does not include the actual Uber or Lyft fee. Family members can receive frequent updates on the ride progress via texts. You can set up automatic requests for fixed appointments. The grandparent can choose to use the touch-tone phone or voice commands to schedule their ride.
Digital literacy training can give older adults the skills and confidence to access information and services online. Many public libraries offer free digital literacy training classes. There are many uses for computers, tablets, and smartphones. For example:
Browse the Internet
Manage your finances
Download and watch movies
Listen to music
Stay in touch with friends and family (via social media software such as Facebook or voice calls and video chats via software like Skype)
Sharing photo albums
Grocery delivery services
Becoming tech savvy is easier than you think. Start with your friends and family and of course your grandchildren! If you already have access to a computer and can use the Internet then there are several online services that offer technology lessons and instructional videos while allowing you to go at your own pace. Just try and keep an open mind and let go of any preconceived notions that technology is complicated and not ‘your thing’. Let technology show you what it can do for you.
Aging in Place (2019). https://www.aginginplace.org/how-to-become-tech-savvy-for-seniors-in-10-days/.