There is nothing like being on a cruise ship mid-ocean with intermittent internet to make you realise just how much I depend on my devices. I wasn’t checking my smart phone or using my iPad often, but when I chose to, it was frustrating that I just couldn’t get connected.
You may question why would I want to use my phone on holiday anyway? Interestingly, the cruise ships are doing more for the environment, and this means having everything on their mobile app. So it is hard to escape from tech.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a geek, but I do like tech that helps me to do what I enjoy, helping people plan for a purposeful and enjoyable retirement. That involves technology at almost every stage, from the obvious emails and online calendars to hosting online training and reading research papers.
The latest report I’m re-reading is “Four pillars of the new retirement”. It’s packed with interesting quotes and thought-provoking stats, but one really leapt out at me today.
“Smartphones and internet access have become essential to socialize, carry out everyday tasks and access health care. If you only have a telephone, you are disconnected.”Tom Kamber, PhD, Founder and Executive Director of Older Adults Technology Services
Why is this important for retirees? According to Statista, at least 82% of UK adults aged 16 to 64 inclusive now own a smart phone. However, this drops to 69% for those aged over 65.
Company and current tech
Having your own up to date tech is a major financial (and expertise) consideration when you retire.
Those of us working for large companies or corporations may not actually own devices of our own. We may have a company laptop, smartphone or even subsidised broadband for home working. When something goes wrong, we ring tech support and they sort it out (or we ask a teenager).
When we retire, that support and tech will disappear. Moreover, tech will march on regardless. So we need to keep pace with it.
Experts predict that even Moore’s Law will be obsolete by the 2030s thanks to rapid advances in quantum computing.
“In 1965, Gordon Moore posited that roughly every two years, the number of transistors on microchips will double. Commonly referred to as Moore’s Law, this phenomenon suggests that computational progress will become significantly faster, smaller, and more efficient over time.”
The digital divide
To stay in touch with friends, family, and more, we all need to keep on top of the tech. In fact, we’ll probably use it more in retirement for keeping in touch, planning holidays, and most importantly for online banking and health services.
With more and more bank branches closing, access to your bank account/s is increasingly only possible via a browser and/or via a dedicated smart phone app. You’ll need to have the required tech to make payments, check your balance, transfer money, authorise payments and much more. Many pension schemes, share trading and other investment services are online too.
What’s more, unless you have installed the latest operating system, apps will often just stop working. Older tech can’t handle the upgrades, potentially becoming unusable in just a handful of years.
If you cannot get online, you are effectively shut out of a whole range of health services which rely on patients having internet access. Access often includes using online portal for e-consults, details on hospital appointments, and repeat prescriptions, plus telehealth options.
More money for tech for GPs
On Monday 8 May, the government announced a new wave of investment in tech for the NHS, some of which is going towards replacing analogue phone systems at GP practices with new digital systems.
As Minister for Health Neil O’Brien said:
“(Other new) really easy to use digital tools allow a lot of patients to get the help they need without ever needing to go in for an appointment, which will help cut waiting lists. Investing £240 million in these modern tools and the help GPs need to move onto them will make things more convenient for patients, but also make the workload more manageable for general practice teams.”
Old tech, old skills
Imagine negotiating all these new apps and systems (and remembering the passwords) if the last time you touched a computer was ten years ago. If you don’t keep up with the tech when you retire at around 65, this would be your reality at age 75. That’s a serious concern:
“A large percentage of retirees, especially those over age 75, are not online or digitally adept. On the wrong side of the digital divide, they are severely disadvantaged and likely more isolated socially as well as medically.”Pew Research Center, USA, 2019
A European study in 2018 found much the same:
“A nationally representative survey conducted across 17 European countries showed that 51% of people age 50 and older do not use the internet.”
Working and tech ability
Staying in touch with tech is a major benefit of working beyond retirement. Any employer will require some form of tech usage, even just to message you or so you can access information on a company portal. It keeps you engaged with how tech is used every day, rather than just headline fancy features.
Your retirement tech budget
Whatever device you’re reading this on, chances are it won’t work as well in three, let alone five years’ time. Just as you might like to include a holiday budget in your retirement planning, why not include a tech budget too?
This should cover the annual cost of:
- Broadband contract (and speeds)
- Mobile phone calls and data
- Smart phone handset replacement
- New/upgraded tablet
- New/upgraded desktop or laptop computer
- Landline rental
- Streaming TV services such as Netflix
- Upgrading your smart TV
- Other new and replacement tech, from mesh wifi to smart speakers, sat navs and bluetooth key fob finders!
Need help with retirement planning?
Do get in touch. I’m only an email or online enquiry form away!