Seniors Targeted by Mobile Providers
As one of the largest home, hospice and elder care agencies in SE Wisconsin, Horizon hears all sorts of stories from patients and their families. Unfortunately, some of these involve seniors who have been taken advantage of by scam artists and overbearing salespeople. The lamentable truth is that seniors can quickly become "financial prey" if they or their loved ones are not careful, particularly when it comes to modern day technology.
It is often argued that the amount of technological advancement in the past few hundred years far outpaces that of any other time period in history. It just so happens that the Baby Boomers and their parents (the "Greatest" & "Silent" generations) have seen the world's global communications explode before their very eyes, and with each new generation comes the "new normal" of the state of technology. So, while many of the Baby Boomers have caught up with cell phones and internet technologies, their parents likely have not.
So when the elders of our society, who often struggle with "elderly isolation" (for a great article on the subject by the Journal Sentinel, click here), the promise of a device that connects you to your loved ones can be outrageously appealing. Sure, some will not go near these "new" technologies because of the learning curve, and that division will never go away, but there are plenty who will. More and more seniors purchase try these technologies for the first time every day.
The moment Grandma, Grandpa, Mom or Dad try to purchase a cell phone, tablet, computer etc., they become a potential target. This pattern also exists in other industries, but this article focuses on technology.
They walk into the store trying to buy a phone. BOOM. They immediately get hit with complicated jargon about a contract/payment plans, data, upgrades, etc. that becomes overwhelming for even today's average consumer, let alone someone who has never had to deal with this before. But going the opposite route where salespeople under-explain what owning a phone entails is no better. Seniors often face a bipolar scenario of information overload or complete lack thereof, when all they wanted was to stay in touch with their family. And when the alternative for many is a lonely apartment, home, nursing home, etc., it is easy to feel caught between a rock and a hard place.
Does your heart feel a heavy yet? Here's the kicker. When tablet sales were low in 2015, carriers were encouraged to add a cellular tablet to a plan for some extra "low" cost per month. So not only is the knowledge gap hard to overcome, you can have sales staff pushing more expensive or extra products on seniors that they don't even need or want.
Be engaged with your elderly loved ones when it comes to their use of technology. Talk with them about what owning that technology entails. Tell them what you pay for your plans. Do some research. Help guide them in their purchases. You don't necessarily need to do it for them if they are of sound mind and equipped with the proper knowledge, but if you can help, it could be well worth it. Many have experienced how awesome it is to have a relatively tech-savvy grandparent or parent who can Skype, text, or even go on Facebook to stay in touch with family. But we should do everything we possibly can to make sure that leap into technology does not start with a scam or a rip-off that your loved ones cannot afford.
Please note: There are plenty of reputable, reliable organizations and people who genuinely help seniors engage with technology and even set them up with devices that suit their ability levels/needs. You just have to do your homework.
piece written by Casimir Panawash-Bielinski, Social Media Specialist at Horizon Home Care & Hospice.
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