Fall River Jewish Home

Seniors and Technology: Keep Them Safe Online

The internet is a powerful tool for helping seniors keep in touch with friends and family across the country and around the world. It’s an invaluable tool for building new connections, engaging in lifelong learning activities, and entertainment.

Unfortunately, it also represents many perils and the potential for risks. That’s why it’s important to make a point of keeping aging adults safe while wandering the twists and turns of the World Wide Web. Here’s what you can do to help keep your loved one safe online.

Educate Your Loved Ones about the Risks

It’s difficult to teach someone to guard against unknown risks. So, let them know about specific risks. Teach your loved one about specific risks, such as offers of free vacations, discount prescriptions, inheritances from long lost relatives, phishing, IRS or SSA scams, and banks requesting personal information. The more specific you can be when describing the risks, and the information these scammers are looking for, the better prepared your loved one will be to react appropriately when the time comes.

The state of Hawaii, for example, warns of another type of risk senior citizens face online – cyberbullying. While most commonly believed to impact children and teens, senior citizens are also affected by this treatment, mostly in the form of emotional abuse. Other forms include threats, accusations, and silent treatments, and similar actions.

Some aging adults, though, are the victims of cyberbullying in the form of financial abuse where the abusers take actions designed to gain access to account information so they can steal their money. Since many seniors don’t even understand what the term means, they are less lik
ely to report it.

Many of them, even if they understand what’s going on, fail to report these incidents out of shame, feeling as though they are at fault, or fear of continued or worsening bullying if they speak out. Explain the risks to your loved ones and let them know they can always turn to you for help, without fear of being shamed.

How to Guard Against the Risks

The solution is simple. Adults should limit what they post in social media. The more identifying information they put out there about themselves the greater their risks. Never share information about vacations until after the return home, for instance.

Teach them to respond responsibly. The federal government isn’t going to approach them via social media or email. Banks will not ask for personal information or information confirmations via email.

Teach them about the importance of privacy settings. Whether they use them or not, they need to know how far reaching information on the Internet is and that they do have some control over their privacy. These things will not prevent all dangers on today’s web, but it will protect seniors against many of the more common risks.

Don’t burn yourself out with the responsibility of day-to-day care for your aging loved one. Consider respite care instead. It gives you the opportunity for a quick recharge while knowing your loved one is cared for. Call Fall River Jewish Home at 508.679.6172 to learn about the respite care options we have available for your loved one.

Content on this page is provided by a third party who may inadvertently publish inaccurate or incomplete information. Please contact us with any questions regarding the contact on this page.