Shopping online eases isolation for older adults

NEW YORK (AP) — Paula Mont did something new in November: the 86-year-old, who in close to one year did not leave her senior New Jersey living home, went on-line.

In order to support her trembling hands, Mont used the iPad to purchase a grand piano for her granddaughter.

She selected it from over a dozen models of the Amazon instrument.

"It's like a sense of wow.

I find it! I found it!

"Mont said. "Mont said.

During the pandemic the internet has become a vital gateway to the outside world, to which millions of people already have little access.

The absence of the Internet has also affected the capacity of older people to be vaccinated.

Yet the pandemic has also inspired a great deal of people to discover that they have been isolated at home or unable to leave their senior groups before now: how to buy food and more online.

According to NPD Party Checkout Monitoring, the number of people aged 65 and over ranged almost $187 a month online last year, up 60% from a year ago.

They are also smaller than the population that they pay for $238 a month, but by age group they are the fastest rising group of online shoppers.

Shopping is among many activities for older Americans, such as doctoral appointments and socialization through digital video such as FaceTime.

Such behaviour has been forced by nature — older individuals are at greatest risk of illness, so that they are more risky.

The online transformation was not always straightforward and often children and senior workers continue to assist, an opportunity that can be satisfying and daunting.

Barbara Moran, director of social services at Atria Senior Living in Mont, says that one of the main problems facing residents with their computers is that they are used to push rather than tap as if they are using a contact-tone telephone.

She also has to repeat tips.

"I'd lie if I didn't say I was sometimes frustrated," said Moran, who sits at the weekly shopping venue with Mont — masked with gloves.

Internet stores and providers expect more than 65 customers to sustain their online shopping patterns.

Freshly, which offers ready meals, is adding small quantities and low-sodium alternatives for older people; food distribution service Instacart developed a telephone help line; the delivery service of Target, Shipt, has scrapped $99 a year for certain low income older people.

The pandemic led Diane Shein, 73, from Bonita Springs, Florida, to Instacart and to Amazon-owned Whole Foods for food goods.

"I don't know how much it costs, but I don't care," said Shein.

"It's very easy, it's very safe."

Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran predicted that even though the pandemic stops, internet foodstuffs would be a "new normal for the elderly."

Nevertheless, there are numerous obstacles, including the fight to use modern technologies to high costs.

People 65 and older are less likely to have a home Internet or tablet than younger people.

According to a 2021 survey by Older Adult Information Providers, nearly 22 million, or 42 percent of Americans over 65 years old, lack internet at home.

The report says that low-income and elderly Black and Latino people are more likely to be left out.

"We ask them to stay at home, but many senior citizens are unable to connect," said Lauren Cotter of the Community Tech Network, a non-profit San Francisco organization which trains residents to technology and offers free tablets and hotspots.

Many with smartphones and the Internet will battle how to use an app or have the fear of providing personal information when they are concerned about fraudsters.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, online retail scams cost Americans $245.9 million last year.

And ordering online, with advice and shipping charges, costs more than shopping.

The pandemic has also highlighted the internet deficiencies, which also struggle to accommodate sight and hearing difficulties for people with disabilities or an ageing population.

Iris Berman, 93, lives in a helpful San Francisco residential center and bought her shoes online.

When her eyesight weakened, her son Eric Berman, who works in electronics, will support her digitally to share her phone.

During the pandemic he handled her entire shopping because her vision loss was too serious.

"None of these websites work well when expanded," he said.

Then there is the obvious truth that the elderly didn't grow up on the internet, so stuff can't be as intuitive as those who have.

Lynette White, 72, orders Amazon and Aim household clothes and products on her iPhone online.

Yet she considers other applications too difficult to handle, like the Safeway Supermarket.

As she wants to check out her shopping cart, she continues again.

She says it's disappointing that so many precautions are taken.

However, she said that she loves to learn new things and that she approves of her grandchildren, who she gave Amazon gift cards.

"I'm very impressed that I'm excited about technology at my age," White said.

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