Retirees and technology can, and should, live happily ever after


    When it comes to people incorporating technology into their lives, it’s likely no surprise that eager adoption declines with age.

    But retirees have ever more ways to seize opportunities borne of the Internet. The digital marketplace has evolved far beyond simple e-commerce, and older people will find whole new ways to live, make money and interact with people.Here are five ways technology can change retirement for the better.

    The ride
    Senior-drivingSome people finish their careers and find themselves bored, but they don’t want to jump back into a full-time job. Technology has made flexible work easier than ever. Take Uber, for example: When drivers sign up as partners for the ride-sharing app, they can drive whenever they want.

    “The number one thing we see for partners of any age is that they drive because it’s flexible,” says Susie Heath, a spokesperson for Uber Canada. “Retirees are a big part of that.”

    Uber has more than 22,000 drivers across Canada. Most are in Toronto, across southern Ontario and in Quebec. In the United States, the company has already partnered with AARP to recruit older drivers.

    In Toronto, Ms. Heath says, people often sign up because “they want to save up for a trip they’ve been planning their whole lives, or their grandchild is going to school, or their daughter’s getting married.”

    Change locations
    If you’re headed somewhere warm for the winter, there’s no reason to let your home sit idle. Snowbirds and those who own multiple properties can rent them out on Airbnb.

    cottage-smallThe site allows you to host tenants for as short or long as you like, giving you the chance to net extra cash when you’re not around, without worrying about a long-term lease.

    Hotline bling
    Only 11 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55 typically access the Internet on mobile devices, according to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. But smartphones have made reaching out to loved ones almost bafflingly easy.

    Joseph Coughlin, head of MIT’s AgeLab, a research program that studies how technology can improve quality of life for older people, has written about the concept of “dinner by Skype,” or using video chats to stay in touch with friends and family. Skype may have been a forerunner in video conferencing, but now Gmail, Facebook and Apple offer their own video-chat services that need little more than a mobile phone and wireless connection.

    Digital dash
    senior-on-computerRetirement isn’t all about kicking back – you’ve got to make sure that your nest egg stays padded. Financial institutions offer electronic dashboards to monitor finances, but people who want to take a more hands-on approach, or who want independent assessments and projections, can choose from among numerous options online.

    RetireWare, a Web-based tool developed by Toronto’s Apeiron Software Ltd., is one option. Marc Des Rosiers, Apeiron’s founder and a pension actuary by trade, says about 80 per cent of its users are affluent self-directed investors. Do-it-yourself investors can find plenty of free generic calculators online, he says, but they they are too rudimentary to truly assess whether someone is ready for retirement. RetireWare subscribers can set goals, including for varying incomes over the course of their retirement.