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Technology and the Older Person

By Patsy Trench December 27, 2023 Lifestyle

If you are reading this, I already know one or two things about you. Firstly, that you are (probably) over 60. You are (probably but not necessarily) female, and lastly, that you at least have some grip on technology.

We’re Online After All

And a lot of us spend a lot of time there. I could not now live without email, the web, YouTube, online banking and shopping, booking train tickets and the odd streaming service. I could not publish my books without a good deal of knowledge of technology. I communicate with my friends mostly online because I’m not that keen on using the phone. Nowadays, it seems intrusive, I feel I almost have to ask permission to call someone.

That Is Not the Case for Many Older People

I do know people who don’t own a smartphone or use the internet at all. I have absolutely no idea how they manage their daily lives, but they obviously do because for the most part – I assume – they have chosen to live that way. These are the people nowadays who I would argue are being discriminated against.

They are the people who find it difficult to buy a train ticket because so many ticket offices here in the UK are being closed. They are the people who rely on actual bank buildings and post offices because they do all their banking in the old-fashioned way, face to face, and banks and post offices are disappearing fast.

They get off their backsides and go to actual shops to do their shopping. Moreover, they don’t spend/waste half their time scrolling through social media.

You Could Argue These Are the People Who Are Most in Tune with the World Around Them

Who aren’t so glued to their mobiles on public transport that they fail to notice the elderly/infirm/pregnant person standing right next to them who could do with a seat. Who use old-fashioned printed maps to find their way around, so if their GPS fails or gets confused, they can still figure out how to get to their destination. Who aren’t so totally plugged into something-or-other as they walk down the street, they can still hear the birds singing.

And If They Do Get Lost, They Are Not Averse to Asking for Directions

Even men! (Well… ) I cannot figure out Google Maps for the life of me. I was standing in the middle of a six-road junction in Elephant and Castle recently (in London) figuring out how to find a theatre and the helpful Google lady told me to ‘turn left’. Eventually, I found an actual person who knew exactly where it was and – well, Bob’s your uncle!

Technology Serves Many Purposes

Of course, it does. I could not publish or publicise my books without it. I could not submit my tax return or transfer money to and from bank accounts without it. All freelancers have to have some kind of techie knowledge, if only to know how to create a website or use social media.

Technology Saves Time

So they say. But does it? People seem to be working longer and longer hours these days, and it’s not clear whether productivity has increased accordingly. That could be because the time they are saving online is being diverted, also online, to endless scrolling through cat and toddler videos (or are they called reels nowadays?) on social media.

Is Technology Responsible for a Rise in the Crime Rate?

I cannot be the only person who feels tempted to vent my frustration with a ‘computer that says no’ (a reference to a character in a TV series called Little Britain) by committing violence on something or someone – anything or anyone.

If you’re of the generation who were not taught these things, you pick them up – or try to – as you go along, in your own random way. Hence the frustration. There was a time long, long ago when pretty well everyone understood the machines and equipment they used. Car owners knew how to fix the engine and change a tyre. Nowadays you need a degree in IT to do just that.

My Two-Year-Old Grandson Knows What YouTube Is

And how to find it on my phone. He knows his way around my phone better than I do. Should I be worried? Probably not. I can’t wait for him to be old enough to act as my tech advisor.

The author and her bête noire (Sketch by Anna de Polnay).

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What frustrations do you have with technology? How easy is it for you to get around the internet and various apps on your phone? Do you think technology has made our life easier or to the contrary?

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My frustrations are not enough time in the day. I take my fitness classes online and love the wide variety of choices, I love to explore new things to me (Canva, Domestika classes, Patreon art classes). I do bible study online, I run podcasts in the background as I clean, listen to so much music, follow a CBT journaling app daily. If I can’t make it to church, it’s available online. I try to teach myself something new as often as possible via technology. I read a couple of books a month, half are ebooks, the other paper. Track all my notes on the books using an app.


I am frustrated that so many older people do not use technology, as you said. They are taking themselves out of the current World and missing communicating with their family and friends who likely don’t live nearby. They are also missing so many opportunities to learn instantly about anything they choose – but unfortunately, they don’t seem to care and say they have already learned enough in their life. It’s the PEOPLE I am frustrated with. I am frustrated that they are fostering agism with that attitude and making the rest of us look bad too. We live in 2023 – almost 2024. This is NOT 1960 and never will be again. Reality!

Pat Simes

I agree, Bella.


My father in law is almost 90 and uses things like Facetime, he was given an old iPad during the pandemic lockdown and is very good with that and his mobile phone.


Yes but for those who are 90 years or more and are out of technology, it’s impossible to teach them to use it and their lives are difficult in nowadays.
I offered a computer to my father in his 88 years and he don’t have patience to use it . He has a smartphone but only use it for calls. Everything in phone is very confused for him . My mother with 93 use a Nokia and even a message is impossible for her .
We have to understand that very older people lived all their lives without technology and it’s extremely difficult to learn to use it in their ages .
My father use to say that he is feeling that this world is not for him anymore because everything is online and in mail and he can’t do that . It’s sad , we have to understand them and not complain.


Unfortunately my brother and his wife have been saying that since their early 50s which was 20 years ago.

Corrine Tourand

Hi. I am not a big fan of technology. I use email, messenger, ffacebook and google. I love being out with people and interacting with people. I am not fostering agism but I find a lot of people are losing social skills.


I’m 71 and female. I love technology. I navigate Apple TV and use my smartphone and the internet daily. I would be lost without my cellphone. Older people can do it if they want to. It may take a little bit longer to learn if but it is so worthwhile

Vicki W.

I have over 7,000 emails and no matter how hard I work to delete them, more fill up my inbox each hour. I have been unsubscribing from the ones sending daily emails, but new ones appear from sites I never even subscribed to. Sitting and deleting emails does not bring joy.


I agree. A real psin.


Duel-edged sword here!! Easier to bank, shop, communicate quickly. Frustrating because since I am still working in publishing/communication/journalism, I nam never sure what are the must useful skills to have: Adobe creative suite? Google applications like docs, slides, etc? MS word, PowerPoint ? WordPress? Or another easy to navigate website/blog builder? Newsletters- Mailchimp, Canva?
But I would be list without Google search and my phone, texting!!

Sandra Johnson

I do struggle with technology. I am 73 and I do not use facebook often, but in Kentucky, that is the communicator for everything! Here is a funny storystory….when I was about 68 I had to rent a car, sat down and couldn’t figure out how to start it! I had to flag someone to instruct me. I still don’t have a pushbutton car! I am going to re-teach myself how to do XL to develop a spreadsheet. That will get my brain busy. I do like Google Search, but you have to question Fact or Fiction. Also this site has an extreme amount of popups. Anybody know how to eliminate them? Thank you for listening. SJJ

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The Author

Patsy Trench has been an actress, scriptwriter, theatre tour organiser and theatre teacher and lecturer. She now writes books about her family history in colonial Australia and novels featuring enterprising women breaking boundaries in Edwardian and 1920s England. She lives in London.

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