Despite the widely held belief that senior citizens aren't making use of the internet, recent data shows otherwise. Inside Elder Care cites a 2004 study by Pew Internet that indicates that seniors' online habits are much like those of the younger generations. Two-thirds of seniors (66%) use the internet for product research, almost half (47%) purchase goods online, and 100% visit government websites.
The Pew Internet study is a few years old, but indicates promising future trends. In 2004, 22% of seniors were using the internet -- a figure that jumped 47% in the four years prior to the study. More recent data shows that the rising trend continued; a 2009 report from CTAM (cited on the AARP Global Network) finds that 77% of seniors (65+) shop online, a whopping 94% use email, 71% seek out health and medical information online, and 70% rely on the internet for daily news.
Inside Elder Care notes that both seniors and caregivers can benefit from being online. For one, long-distance caregiving can be easier with the use of daily email communication. Caregivers have peace of mind, and seniors who are able to connect with their families more frequently are less likely to be depressed. Making use of all the internet has to offer can maintain cognitive function, not to mention the sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering technology.
Senior care marketers take noteThis data is also great news for senior care marketers. We've known that caregivers are using the internet to find information, which we discussed in a related post, but the fact that seniors are also researching online means they can play a more active role in making decisions regarding their care.
Marketers should be aware that online strategies should be designed to appeal to two audiences:
- The caregiver market -- the families, children, and spouses of the aging or disabled who have traditionally made care decisions.
- The senior market -- the seniors themselves, who are now also actively researching health and medical information online.