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Internet for the elderly

Thursday, 14 October 2010 | By Michelle Hammond

start up ideas for oldiesGeneration Y is the default target market for most entrepreneurs who launch online-based, businesses but a slightly greyer demographic could prove the basis for a start-up.


A recent report from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education advises that residents in nursing homes should be encouraged to get online.


The study shows that surfing the net and using Skype could improve seniors' health and provide mental stimulation.


While about 2% of nursing homes currently offer internet access, that figure is likely to change, particularly with so much talk of our ageing population.


With that predicament comes a promising business opportunity - educating seniors about computers and the internet.


This could be facilitated through courses, whereby consultants visit nursing homes and act as tutors.


It would be fairly easy to convince seniors to complete the course given the convenience of being able to pay bills, write business letters and communicate with family members, all online.


As part of the course, tutors could help seniors to overcome their fears of computers by taking apart an old computer and pointing out the different components.


This could be followed by getting them to switch a computer on, talking them through the various Microsoft products and helping them to conduct a simple internet search.


Once they're up and running, introduce software tailored to their needs, such as programs with large text and plenty of images.


The courses and products wouldn't have to stop with senior citizens. Immigrants and people of non-English speaking backgrounds would also benefit, particularly if they're looking to apply for jobs.


Old age is an inevitable part of life and, with technology moving at the speed of light, there'll always be a market for internet users who feel like they've been left in the dark.