NEW YORK – Paula Mont did something new in November. The 86-year-old girl, who has not left the community of senior residents of her state of New Jersey for almost a year, went shopping online.
Mont used an iPad with a stylus to help him shake his trembling hands as a toy for his granddaughter. He chose it from more than a dozen versions of the Amazon gadget.
“It simply came to our notice then. I found it! ”Mont said.
During the epidemic, the Internet became a powerful link to the outside world, from which millions of people still have no access. In older adults, the lack of internet has even prevented them from getting vaccinated.
But the epidemic has pushed many who are isolated at home or have not been able to leave their senior communities to learn something they have hitherto resisted, such as buying food, etc. online.
Last year, Americans over 65’s online online averaged about $ 187, up 60 percent from the previous year, according to Checkout Tracking, a market research firm at NPD Group. They generally spend less than $ 238 per month on average per capita, but they are the fastest growing group of online shoppers by age group.
The largest online spenders were people between the ages of 35 and 44, who spent an average of $ 306 a month last year, up 40% from the previous year, according to the NPD.
Shopping is one of the few things older Americans now have to do online, such as doctor’s appointments and communicating via digital video like FaceTime. Such behavior was forced due to necessity. Older people are at greater risk for infection, so it is more dangerous for them to go outside.
Switching online has not always been easy, և kids և senior staff often have to help, an experience that can be և fun, և difficult.
Barbara Moran, Mont’s director of social programs at Atria Senior Living, says one of the biggest challenges for residents with devices is that they are accustomed to pushing rather than tapping, as if using a touching phone. He has to repeat the advice often.
“I would be fooled if I did not say that I am sometimes disappointed,” said Moran, who sat with masked and gloved Mont in the dining room of the institution during weekly shopping.
Online retailers and delivery services are hoping that people over the age of 65 will continue their online shopping habits. Fresh, which prepares ready-made food, looks for smaller portions, low-sodium options for the elderly. Food delivery service Instacart created a telephone support line; Target delivery service Shipt cancels $ 99 per year for some low-income seniors.
Diane Shane, 73, of Bonita Springs, Florida, turned to Instacart and Amazon for Whole Foods for food because of the epidemic.
“I’m not sure how much it’s worth, but I’m not interested in it,” Shane said. “It’s very easy and safe.”
Instacart President Nilam Ganetiran predicted that online foods would be “new to normal” for seniors, even when the epidemic is over.
There are still many obstacles, from the struggle to use new technology to high entry prices.
People 65 և older are less likely than home internet or smartphone. Nearly 22 million, or 42%, of Americans over the age of 65 do not have broadband at home, according to a 2021 Adult Profit Technology Services Survey. The study says that low-income, elderly Latinos are more likely to drop out.
“We’re asking them to stay home; many seniors are still unrelated,” said Laurent Cotter of the non-profit San Francisco-based Tech Network, which trains low-income residents with technology, providing free tablets and hotspots.
Those who have devices և internet can struggle over how to use the app or be afraid to provide personal information as they worry about scammers. Last year, online shopping fraud cost Americans $ 245.9 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And online grocery shopping, which includes tips և shipping, costs more than shopping.
The epidemic also revealed the shortcomings of the Internet, which often can not accommodate people with disabilities or the elderly with hearing or hearing problems.
Iris Berman, 93, lives in an auxiliary living center in San Francisco and buys her shoes online. When his eyesight deteriorated, his son, Ed Berman, a techie, would help him by virtually sharing his screen. He completely stopped shopping during the epidemic because his vision loss was so severe.
“None of these sites work well when they are expanding,” he said.
Then there is the simple fact that older people do not grow up on the Internet, so things may not be as intuitive as those who have.
72-year-old Lynette White buys clothes, household items from Amazon և Target online with her iPhone. But he finds other applications, including Safeway Grocery One, extremely difficult to navigate. When he tries to check his basket, he finds that he starts all over again. He says it is disappointing that there are so many steps to take.
Still, he said he loves learning new skills, confirming his grandchildren, whom he sends gifts to Amazon.
“They are very impressed that at my age I am inspired by technology,” White said.
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