How does IT help senior citizens?

Senior citizens in India often settle down in cities to take advantage of their professional connections. Information Technology helps them in four key functions.

1               Keep in touch with family and friends

With increased globalization, today’s senior citizens in India find their family members and friends spread across the globe. Earlier form of communication thru postal mail is just not feasible. Luckily, electronic mail and Video conferencing have suddenly shrunk distances. With free web-based email programs like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, one can be in touch with people around the globe effortlessly; with “chat” facility one can have interactive communication, often supplemented with voice / video, thanks to VoIP (Voice over IP) available in services like Skype.


2               Manage savings

For senior citizens, banking and financial services are important – getting pension credited, renewing fixed deposits and other investments (mutual funds and stocks). With practically all banks offering CBS (core banking services), one can do banking from the convenience of a home. Most CBS solutions offer online stock trading option as well. With Post Offices planning to introduce ATM, Core Banking and other services, and most insurance companies offering services online, senior citizens can manage practically all savings without depending on others.


3               Keep up with current developments

Professionals who have turned 60 and become senior citizens continue to be active till they turn 80+. Many of them will like to keep up with current developments in their profession as well as civil society. Luckily, most newspapers (Times of India, for example) are available free online. Most professional journals (IEEE Computer, for example) too are available at very low cost (Rs 1,000+ per year), permitting professionals to keep abreast of developments in their profession, not to mention “Current Science” that is free online.

4               Monitor health

Senior citizens need to monitor their health. While annual regular checkups are a must under the careful supervision of medical doctors, lots of informational articles can be read by accessing “Mayo Clinic” or ‘WebMD” sites. “GetActive” is a handy device (cigarette box size) that measures the number of steps, distance travelled and walking time throughout the day and upload the data to your personal web-site effortlessly (you simply plug into the USB port of an Internet-connected PC); it has memory for 30 days. Similar services would soon be available for blood pressure, glucose levels etc. If you have a smartphone like iPhone many free ”apps” allow you to monitor heart-rate, eye sight etc.,

Most of these services are free. All one needs is an Internet-connected PC!

Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views. He can be reached at

(Appeared in Education Times of Times of India, April 1, 2013)


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