Posted by Rachel Bashford

Seniors And Digital Skills: An Essential Guide

Elderly couple look at phones with headphones on

Keep reading for all the latest news on:

  • Why digital skills are vital for older people’s quality of life.
  • What key digital skills are necessary to make senior’s lives easier.
  • Best ways to acquire digital proficiencies.
  • Where seniors and their families can find out more information.

Why Are Digital Skills Vital For Older People?

As a society, we are encouraged to believe that more people than ever are technologically literate and connected through an array of smart devices on a daily basis. Particularly during the pandemic, it appeared as if everyone was online and learning new digital abilities by the minute.

However, this may not be a totally accurate picture of what is happening with older people in the UK. In light of a new piece of research completed by Age UK, it would seem that there hasn’t been a dramatic revolution in online activity with the over-65s.

In essence, Age UK’s new report Digital inclusion and older people dispels the fallacy that ‘everyone’ is online.  In fact, the study suggests that, although 24% of over 75s are reporting that they are using the internet more, this figure actually relates to those who were already users increasing their daily internet time.

Average internet use since coronavirus

For those older people who did use the internet pre-pandemic, around 10% say they now use it less. What is more concerning is that the report states 42% of this age group don’t use the internet at all.

In support of these findings, The Centre For Ageing Better has also commissioned a study into digital inclusion for older people. It asserts that 5 million over-55s are not digitally literate and don’t use online services.

Why is this of concern? Well, with the pandemic raging through 2020 and 2021, many businesses, public services and entertainment companies raced to put their products, services, advice and procedures online.

Increasingly, people’s social lives, leisure time, medical or health services and communication with loved ones have moved online.

But, without the appropriate aptitudes in digital technology, how can older people access these services to overcome the challenges of entering a whole new digital world?

Explored in this short video are the reasons why some older people feel digital inclusion is so meaningful for their lives. Some seniors discuss the impact that learning new digital skills has on increasing feelings of positivity.

Of concern to many invested groups and charities is the fact that some older people are detached from online health, medical and wellbeing services to the extent that they are missing out on vital help or support.

So, which digital skills really matter for seniors today?

Top Digital Skills For Older People To Acquire

Lots of over-65s have plenty of digital literacy. They may have a smartphone, tablet or internet-based entertainment facilities in their home.

However, there is a large proportion of this age group that is not completely familiar with all the necessary abilities to access everything required for a full life

In light of this, the Tech Partnership’s Basic Digital Framework outlines the key skills that enable people, particularly older people, to stay connected with the world:

1. Accessing Information

Using a search engine to look for information, downloading and saving something discovered online.

2. Communication

Creating messages through messaging services and writing emails.

3. Transacting

Purchasing items or services online, such as banking and navigating apps.

4. Problem Solving

Ensuring information is correct and solving problems using a digital service.

5. Creating

Completing online application forms, or creating something new from existing images, video or content.

This report also highlighted that 40% of all low-digital, low-financial capability adults were aged over 60, shining a light on the real need for an increased digital awareness in this age group.

Percentage of low digital, low financial capability adults. Split by age. Source 1
Source: UK Consumer Digital Index 2018.

Online Banking

With many high street branches closing down and cashpoints becoming fewer and far between, learning how to bank online and use banking information safely are vital competencies for older people, particularly in light of the pandemic.

This guide from Compare The Market is an ideal starting point if you or your family want to access clear guidance about setting up and managing banking or saving accounts online.

Online Shopping

Once an older person becomes more technologically competent, online shopping can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s for food, groceries, health facilities or gifts for others, being able to buy what you want online and have it delivered to your door is convenient and easy once the skills have been developed.

A great place to start for advice is Digital Unite, where there is plenty of clear, simple information and assistance about getting connected with online shopping.

Online Communication

Communicating with loved ones is a crucial aspect of everyday life for a vast swathe of over-65 people. If it can’t be done in person, then seniors may begin to feel isolated if they don’t have the necessary digital skills to connect with friends and family online.

Accessing digital systems, whether seniors are in their own home or being looked after in sheltered accommodation or care homes, is really important in keeping links with loved ones open.

Autumna has some clear, simple guides to support both older people and their loved ones in using digital systems for communication. A key example would be for family to understand how care homes or care support staff create digital care plans and how to interpret these.

You may be about to go into a home or be very new to the systems. To guide you or your family through virtual visits, Autumna has created this handy guide.

If you’re interested in how digital family portals or Relatives Gateways work, then these content features can give you all the information you need. Person Centred Software are instrumental in giving seniors and their family clear advice about how best to communicate.

Best Ways To Acquire Digital Proficiencies

In truth, public services and businesses have started to become more aware of the lack of inclusion for older people in the digital landscape. As a result, many charities and companies are offering accessible courses to teach seniors how to develop digital skills and apply these practically online.

Here are just a few of the courses available:

There may be a family member who wants to learn the processes of thriving online to pass these on to older loved ones. If this is the case, then there are quite a few courses for this purpose, such as:

Where Can You Find Out More Information About Digital Inclusion?

Starting to discover the digital world can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re older and unused to the technology involved. Autumna has some great guides to help you get started with digital learning.

Age UK and the Centre For Ageing Better can also provide seniors and their families with really useful guidance about accessing digital skills and improving digital inclusion for everyone.

Equally, The Silverline charity supports older people with anything from feelings of loneliness to getting connected for a better life.

What Is The Best Way To Research Information About Care And Support In Retirement?

Growing numbers of people are turning to Autumna for support and information when they want to find out more about retirement options. Older people and their families are searching for reliable advice about what to look for and how to secure the best possible future retirement home or care.

Starting an internet search without really knowing what to look for can be tricky. But, as users quickly discover, the simple search tools on Autumna help people to rapidly find what they are looking for, with plenty of detail about the lifestyle different retirement developments offer.

Search box

Autumna has almost become a one-stop-shop for people interested in discovering more about retirement living. It covers all aspects of the market, from luxury retirement villages to more cost-effective choices.

If you’re searching for retirement homes, Autumna does the hard work for you, helping you to refine your choices and giving you the best and most relevant information.

You can either search through the easy-to-navigate, easy-to-compare directory yourself or get help from a real person. Just send an email request or book a free call back at a time that is convenient for you.

Autumna has gathered detailed information from a wide variety of sources, and consolidated it into a rich information resource that will help you, quickly and easily, find exactly what you need, when you need it.

And if you’re not sure what you need, this quick video presentation by Autumna’s founder, Debbie Harris will give you some useful pointers.

How to Find Care Homes, Home Care, Live-In Care and Retirement Communities That Suit Your Budget and Needs

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Let Autumna help you. Complete this short form to let us know exactly what type of care is important to you, and we’ll send you a free shortlist of providers who can help.

Alternatively email us here: or call our Advice Line on 01892 335 330. Our phone line is open seven days a week. (8:30am - 5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm Sat, 10am - 4pm Sun).

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