Seniors who struggle with technology face telehealth challenges and social isolation

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Family gatherings on Zoom and FaceTime. Online orders from grocery stores and pharmacies. Telehealth appointments with physicians.

These have been lifesavers for many older adults staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic. But an unprecedented shift to virtual interactions has a downside: large numbers of seniors are unable to participate.
Among them are older adults with dementia (14% of those 71 and older), hearing loss (nearly two-thirds of those 70 and older), and impaired vision (13.5% of those 65 and older) who can have a hard time using digital devices and programs designed without their needs in mind. (Think small icons, difficult-to-read typefaces, inadequate captioning among the hurdles.)

Many older adults with limited financial resources also may not be able to afford devices or the associated internet service fees. (Half of seniors living alone and 23% of those in two-person households are unable to afford basic necessities.) Others are not adept at using technology and lack the assistance to learn.
During the pandemic, which has hit older adults especially hard, this divide between technology “haves” and “have-nots” has serious consequences.

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