The data keeps piling up that seniors are accessing the internet more than ever. The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) discusses the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which indicates that 42% of individuals age 65 and older are now regularly accessing the internet; a figure that has grown 50% since the 2000 Census data. This population uses the internet to read email and access news online, but they don't typically watch online videos or participate in instant messaging.
An AARP Bulletin Poll from December 2009 also examines Internet Use Among Midlife and Older Adults. The survey sample included more than 1,000 adults in the U.S. age 50 and older. 32% of respondents reported that they don't use a computer at all, but 60% say they access a computer at home, while another 26% access a computer at work.
Of those who reported using the internet, 74% said they use it daily, and 38% said they access the net several times each day. In addition to reading online news and emails, purchasing products online, online banking, and travel reservations are among the most common internet uses for this population.
How long respondents have been using the internet varies. 42% have been using the internet for more than ten years, 32% between six and ten years, 20% between one and five years, and 4% for less than one year. Interestingly, most of those who reported that they've never used the internet aren't interested in learning (71%). That figure is skewed by age; those over 65 are less likely to report being interested in learning how to use the internet (78%) than those between the ages of 50 and 65 (63%). It will be interesting to see how market saturation of web-enabled mobile devices impacts these figures in the coming years.
As the current 50-65 popualation continues to age, the number of individuals who are either already accessing the internet on a regular basis or are interested in learning how to use the internet will increase. Not only do assisted living providers and retirement communities have better chances of reaching seniors online, but those offering computer and internet access along with opportunities to learn technology will be more attractive to this technologically-savvy senior population.
Photo by Jakub Krechowicz