Must-Have Gadgets for Retirees

These devices are rapidly becoming a part of the retirement years.

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Older adults are increasingly adopting new technologies and the Internet. For the first time in 2012, more than half of adults age 65 and older use the Internet, according to a recent Pew Research Center telephone survey of 2,254 adults conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Here’s how older Americans are incorporating new technologies and utilities into their retirement years:

A broadband connection. Senior citizen Internet use has grown from just 38 percent in August of 2008 to 53 percent in 2012, the Pew Research Center found. People age 65 and older remain less likely to use the Internet than the overall population (82 percent). However, once online, 70 percent of seniors use the Internet on a typical day.

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It’s primarily young retirees who are going online. After age 75, Internet adoption drops to 34 percent. Many seniors are fueling their online habits with high-speed connections. Some 39 percent of people age 65 and older now have a broadband connection at home, up from just 8 percent in 2005.

Cell phone. The majority of senior citizens (69 percent) now own a cell phone, up from 57 percent in May 2010. And over half (56 percent) of people over age 75 report having a cell phone. Overall, 88 percent of adults have cut the cord, including 95 percent of 20-somethings.

E-mail. Almost all Americans, including retirees, now have an e-mail account. Seniors (86 percent) are almost as likely to use e-mail as the overall population (91 percent).

Desktop computer. People age 65 and older (48 percent) are about equally as likely as 20-somethings (51 percent) to own a desktop computer. People between ages 30 and 64 are much more likely than the oldest and youngest Americans to use a desktop computer.

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Laptop. Young people (75 percent) strongly prefer laptop computers. Laptop use declines as people age to almost a third (32 percent) of people age 65 and older, but that’s up from 24 percent in 2010.

E-reader. E-readers are most used by people ages 30 to 49 (23 percent). However, the proportion of retirees who prefer their books in digital format has increased from 3 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2012.

Tablet. Tablets have not yet caught on with the majority of the population. Tablet adoption is highest among people ages 30 to 49 (26 percent). Senior citizen tablet usage has grown from 1 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2012.

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Social networking sites. Young people ages 18 to 29 are the most prolific users of Facebook, LinkedIn, and similar websites (86 percent), and some 66 percent of adult Internet users are now part of an online network. Retirees are beginning to join in significant numbers. Social networking site use among Internet users ages 65 and older more than doubled from 13 percent in 2009 to 34 percent in 2012. And even 20 percent of people over age 75 use social networking sites.