5 ways you can support your older loved ones using tech

Two people looking at a screen
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For many of us, spending more time with our families has become a priority over the past few years. But while there’s no shortage of devices, apps, and tech to help connect people wherever they are in the world, some of us are more comfortable using it than others.

Older relatives and friends, for example, can often feel alienated by our modern technology-driven world. From being overwhelmed with thousands of devices to millions of apps on offer, something that’s second nature for one person may be an anxiety-inducing minefield for another.

That’s why those of us who can navigate through the digital world with ease should not only use tech to better connect with those who feel intimidated by it, but also spend some time helping and teaching them, so that they can gain confidence and reap the same benefits. Embracing the right technology can significantly enrich lives, so we’ve rounded up just a few examples that show those who haven’t grown up with smartphones and tablets can feel empowered. Because knowledge really is power.

It’s good to talk

Physical distance can often lead to emotional isolation, — something that most of us faced during the pandemic. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams offered a fantastic way for loved ones to stay connected, fostering a sense of closeness regardless of location.  Allowing families to remain in touch during the challenging times of lockdowns and social distancing, millions of people remained connected to those that mattered most. From catching up on people’s days, to viewing grandchildren’s first steps, the value of these tools is priceless.

Thankfully, between the likes of Facetime, WhatsApp video, and other apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and more, most people are familiar with how to stay in touch remotely. What’s often not in their control however, is the quality of their connections.

EE's Work Mode is an example of technology that can further enhance this experience by prioritising bandwidth for video conferencing applications. This ensures a smoother connection and minimises disruptions, such as buffering or dropped calls, during those precious virtual interactions.

The best part though, is that it requires zero technical knowledge. Simply turn it on with a press of a button in the EE app, and it’ll automatically prioritise video calls over things like streaming services or online gaming, which can often cause dropped or laggy calls as everything fights to share the connection. By providing video call apps with a larger share of the bandwidth automatically, users will enjoy a more stable and reliable connection for their important calls with loved ones.

Three people looking at a computer screen

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New hobbies, new people

The internet is an invaluable tool when it comes to learning new hobbies. From countless YouTube courses on everything from woodworking to crocheting (and everything in between), to online forums filled with passionate people, guiding older relatives to the right online destinations can be a superb way to let them discover new passions, or rekindle old ones.

Being able to talk with like-minded people from around the world about a subject you’re interested in can foster a strong sense of community, while also providing an opportunity to not only learn new things, but share your own knowledge with others in the process.  Virtual spaces can include anything from hobbyist forums and subreddits, to Discord groups and more. These options are all particularly valuable for those with limited mobility or health concerns that restrict them from leaving home.

Health is wealth 

Technology has always played a vital role in healthcare, but never before has it placed so much power directly into our hands. Today, wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches can monitor steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns, encouraging a more active lifestyle.  Smart scales can track weight and body composition, while other devices like smart ECG monitors enable users to monitor their heart health at home. There are countless other examples too, from smart blood pressure monitors, to air quality monitors, and much, much more. 

Introducing these devices to older relatives and showing them how they work can not only prove beneficial from a healthcare point of view, but can also motivate them to focus on their health and wellbeing. Elsewhere, virtual healthcare services offer convenient access to medical expertise, without having to travel. Additionally, a wealth of online exercise classes, such as yoga or gentle aerobics specifically designed for older adults, are readily available on sites like YouTube. Ultimately, there’s no shortage of apps devices, and online resources to help people start or progress on their health journey — and it’s never too late to start.

Woman looking at her smartwatch

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Peace of mind

Technology can offer a valuable layer of security and peace of mind for both older adults and their loved ones. Smart home devices, such as Wi-Fi doorbells, security cameras, and floodlights, allow for remote monitoring of a property. You can even sign into the same account on your own devices, keeping you in the loop with alerts of any suspicious goings-on. 

Most systems such as doorbells allow for two-way communication, letting you not only (quite literally) keep an eye on visitors, but also allow you to talk to them too. This is particularly useful in instances where cold callers are a regular nuisance, but it can also be a godsend when combined with a smart doorlock. With this combination, you can, for example, verify that the person ringing the doorbell is a carer, before granting them access remotely via the smartlock app.

Staying safe online

Physical security aside, it’s also important to take online measures into account as well, especially in an age where there’s no shortage of nefarious online actors. EE's Smart Hub Plus with Wi-Fi controls offers advanced features like Web Protect and Safe Search, safeguarding users from malicious websites and online scams. 

Web Protect acts as a digital guardian, actively blocking access to known malicious websites or phishing attempts.  Similarly, Safe Search filters ensure that search engine results are appropriate and free from harmful content. It’s all done automatically — just turn them on in EE’s app, and they’ll work their security magic in the background, providing peace of mind for older adults who may be particularly vulnerable to online threats.

 For more information, feel free to visit ee.co.uk/home