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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeLearningThe Key to Mastering Technology in Later Life

The Key to Mastering Technology in Later Life

The simple key to mastering technology

Our mindset is the answer

A note from Johann

Most of us, as we get older, experience the frustration of being stuck in some or other technological challenge. We try to battle our way through it on our phones or laptops and feel like going mad with frustration when we can’t find the solution. I’m assured this isn’t a feeling reserved exclusively for my generation. In discussing this topic recently I’ve heard from many friends of various generations that this is a familiar feeling. Some years ago, I recall the internet being awash with videos of people taking revenge on less than cooperative office equipment – specifically printers.

This brings me to the key I referred to above. The key to the mastery of technology. There’s very little chance of becoming fully proficient at all things technological at my stage of life. Not least of which because I wasn’t so sure-footed out the starting blocks when it all came about. Yet what I have is the ability to learn, the desire to keep learning and access to many folks more skilled than me. And all I need do is ask – for help.

This can be a tricky hurdle to jump. After all, I like to be independent. I like to feel competent and I really don’t enjoy playing into stereotypes to do with aging. The interesting thing about asking for help, especially when it comes to dealing with technological challenges, is that solves a few other issues for me. Firstly, it shortens the period I spend utterly frustrated trying to solve an issue that might just be beyond me, but most importantly, it gives me to opportunity yo connect with others while also helping me to feel empowered by finding a solution albeit via an alternative course of action.

Our recent webinar guest, Andrew Dickson, confirmed this thought for me. He advocated that we build a relationship with an advisor or a trouble shooter that can be called on at short notice. Asking for help, he says, is a critical aspect of learning how to get out of a problem. A kind of ‘tech tutor’ is a good friend to have and to cultivate.

Andrew also reminded us how integral to the future technology will be. Managing our health and our overall wellbeing will increasingly depend on our understanding of how technology can help us. Even now, functions that used to require a visit to the doctor like testing blood pressure and heart rate, can be checked by a fitness device and soon, our phones. Imagine the functions that await in the near future! And all the more so when we aren’t afraid to ask for the next lesson.


We’re focusing on mastering the use of technology as we get older. The application of technology in making our lives easier, safer and more efficient is almost endless. And being able to make use of these benefits can be exciting. But keeping up with the advances in digital development can be overwhelming. How then can we bridge the digital divide? We suggest that an openness to asking for help is the key to staying in the driving seat of this skill set. Rather than being a passive consumer of media we can use actively use technology to improve aspects of our lives. And mastering your device can be as simple as asking a family member or friend and even the internet itself.

Our top 3 article picks this week:

How to Close the Digital Gap for the Elderly

More than just coping with the digital world, the elderly are starting to use their skills to feed the silver community.

An elderly man on his phone to symbolise closing the gap between the elderly and digital technology

Our take:
With a global trend toward an aging population, there is much work to be done to ensure that older people aren’t left behind when it comes to technological advances. Not only for their benefit and dignity but also because it benefits society to provide solutions to the challenges populations groups face. The World Economic Forum shares data and case studies on the realities of a digital divide and why we should work to close it.

Article excerpt:
Many young people have embraced the convenience of digital technologies such as online shopping, car hailing, digital payments, and telemedicine. But many elderly without a grasp of the latest knowledge are at risk of being left behind.

Several news reports in China during the outbreak of COVID-19 put this issue in the spotlight: an elderly woman who wanted to pay for her medical insurance with cash was refused due to concerns that her cash might be carrying the virus.

The woman, who had not set up mobile payment, was left alone in the service centre at a loss.

These incidents are stark reminders of the widening digital gap for the elderly.

The pandemic, however, has pushed a great number of elderly people online, in China and globally. The Chinese government issued plans in November last year to help elderly people overcome barriers to using smart technology.

Meanwhile tech companies, such as e-commerce company, are stepping up their efforts to ease the transition. Here are three major trends in this arena:

  1. Taking online in-store
    Brick-and-mortar stores have started to arrange assistants in dedicated zones to help elderly customers make sense of everything from digital payments to robot services.
  2. From louder smartphones to voice-activated home appliances
    Tailormade smartphones play an important role in easing elderly people’s transition into the digital space. Phones with big buttons, larger font sizes and high-volume speakers have popped up recently.
  3. Enabling the elderly is a good investment for brands
    Training goes a long way to abating the fear surrounding new technology. Last year, JD organised classes for the elderly on how to use digital devices, starting with basics like downloading apps, and increasing in complexity to cover how to line up for a hospital appointment virtually, scan QR codes, and use mobile payments.
    Click here to read the full article on

Alexa, Why Do I Need a Smart Speaker?

Here are nine simple smart speaker functions that will improve your life.

Hands holding a speaker

Our take:
Do you use a smart home speaker? If so, we’d love to know what you find it most useful for. And if not, have a look at this article about smart speakers and how these home assistants can make life a little more convenient. And they’re easy to set up as long as you have a home connection. And remember, if you need help, just ask.

Article excerpt:
Smart speakers have taken off in recent years with voice control being the defining characteristic. Also known as digital home assistants, because of their wide range of functionality controlled merely by speaking.

The full capability of smart speakers includes shopping and controlling connected smart home devices like lights, doors and alarms all with your voice. However, even the more basic features make the price tag well worth it.

This type of technology can seem daunting to some but once set up, it actually simplifies the technology in one’s life along with many daily activities.

There are several brands of smart speakers on the market now. Amazon, Google and Apple are the key players with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri being their respective voice assistants. Their devices are all excellent, and they each offer a rich ecosystem of services to make their smart speakers do a lot for you. At their full utility, these devices can control many functions within your home and even do your shopping for you, but you don’t need to use them to the full extent to get good value and great use from the one you choose.
Click here to read the full article post on

This 81 Year Old Learned to Code to Create an App for Seniors

Masako Wakamiya is motivated to help fellow seniors stay connected and lead more fulfilling lives.

An elderly’s hands with a phone to symbolise the app that this elderly individual created for seniors to stay connected

Our take:
We’ve posted about Masako Wakamiya before but we think her story bears repeating especially in a week about mastering technology. At 81 she taught herself to code so that she could build an app with games that would be more suitable for her peer group since she wasn’t satisfied with the offering at hand. Talk about resourceful! We love this attitude and hope to inspire you by sharing her story.

Article excerpt:
When was the last time you thought you couldn’t do something because of your age? Elite gymnasts “retire” at age 22, football players tap out around 40, and we retire from working lives in our 60s or 70s. But what comes next? What do we do after that if we’re told we’re too late, too old to start something new? Here’s the thing: society is wrong, and you’re never too old.

Masako Wakamiya, a native of Kanagawa, Japan, saw a need in her community. There were no good mobile apps for people her age. So at 81, she looked around and said in no uncertain terms, “screw it, I’ll do it myself!” Her story teaches us all that we’re never, not ever, too old to try something new.

We often think of coding as complicated and intimidating – at least I know I do. But Masako had a different view – she thought it could be fun. Coding can take anywhere from a few months to multiple years to learn, depending on how complicated your end goals are, the type of work you want to do, and how long you spend at it every week.

Masako never used a computer until she was 58 years old. Having no experience with technology, she originally asked some younger app developers to make something for her. But when they voiced that they didn’t know what seniors wanted in an app, she took matters into her own hands. That day, her game Hindan was born. Masako made it her mission to help senior citizens get engaged with technology so they can stay connected and lead more fulfilling lives, preventing the isolation that often comes with aging.
Click here to read the full review on

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Other highlights for the week:

Most Popular Daily Thought

I believe that, young or old, we have as much to look forward to with confidence and hope as we have to look back on with pride. – Queen Elizabeth II
Since learning the news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing I’ve been reflecting on two main themes. Succession and responsibility. She certainly carried out her responsibilities till her very last days. Her line of succession is firmly in place and I believe she did her utmost to prepare the monarchy for the future by leaving a legacy they can reflect on with pride.
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Quote by Queen Elizabeth the II – I believe that, young or old, we have as much to look forward to with confidence and hope as we have to look back on with pride.

Weekly Question

Last week’s question:
Which element of technology do you find most challenging?
Some of the responses we received:
• The fact that young people think you are not capable of using it.
• I still struggle with Instagram.
• I find printers the most challenging.
• Online banking is still a struggle for me.
• Figuring out if I’m actually decoding Atmos sound content properly in my home theatre.
• I still struggle with my phone every day.
• I honestly find it pretty useful.
• Understanding cell phone costing structures and processes. Airtime, bundles, upgrades, cancellations, etc.
• Figuring out new Ipod programs.
• Smart TV settings and full use of its’ features.
• I still struggle with getting used to a new phone.
• The fact that all companies assume that you will have a printer.
• I still struggle with the software of it all.

This week’s questions:
Which aspect of leaving a legacy motivates you most?
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group


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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.