Want to be able to Skype with Grandma and Grandpa? Wish that your aging father could successfully use a cell phone?
Seniors and technology often don’t go hand-in-hand. Seniors don’t always understand the benefits of technology and may be resistant to use it. However, younger generations understand the benefits of technology and want their elderly loved ones to join in on the fun.
Many advances in technology aren’t just fun. They also can provide social connection and a sense of safety.
And, most children and grandchildren of senior citizens worry about their safety. They also worry that they will be lonely and isolated.
And, most senior citizens prefer to not live in nursing homes. Instead, they would rather live independently but still may need a little help. Technology may be able to give senior citizens some of the help they need.
For example, technology can remind them to take their medications. Other technology can alert others if they fall. And, using a computer can help them to feel connected to their family no matter where they live.
So, how can we teach senior citizens how to use technology? Read on to find out.
Seniors and Technology: How to Teach Them to Become Tech-Savvy
We live in a Digital Age where nearly every task can be done online. We can order groceries, pay our bills, or update our loved ones about our recent vacation. However, senior citizens didn’t grow up with this technology.
Even though internet technology was created in the 1960s, it wasn’t a tool that was widely used until the 90s.
Many of us take for granted these skills because we grew up with them. But, for senior citizens learning about technology can seem like a foreign language.
But just because senior citizens didn’t grow up with tech-savvy skills, doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Explore the following teaching strategies to use when seniors and technology meet in the classroom.
1. Understand Interest
First, it’s helpful to assess how interested your loved one is in learning about technology. If they’re not interested, then you can likely expect some pushback. But, don’t take their disinterest at face value.
Their disinterest may be due to fear of using technology.
If they are interested in learning about technology, then find out what excites them about it. Discover exactly what they want to use technology for and plan your lessons accordingly.
2. Explain Its Value
Senior citizens may not know about or understand the value of using technology in the Digital Age. Because it is so foreign, some may consider it a nuisance altogether.
Explain to your elderly loved one the benefits of using technology. When doing so, try to appeal to their interests and core values. For example, if your grandfather enjoys fishing, explain to him that he can find fishing shows online at any time of the day.
For an elderly loved one interested in staying in touch with their grandchildren, explain how they can send them emails and video chat with them. Getting on social media may also pique their interest.
3. Determine a Starting Point
Based on your loved one’s interests, determine a starting point. Start with just one mode of technology and then move on to the next lesson after they feel more comfortable.
For example, a good place to start when using a cell phone is to teach them to make calls. Once they are comfortable with this skill, teach them how to text.
After that, move on to using social media online.
Do your best to relate to skills your loved one already knows. For example, when you explain texting you can relate it to typing. When you explain email, relate it to sending a letter in the mail.
While this may seem rudimentary, don’t expect your loved one to understand jargon like “texting,” “refresh,” or “likes.” Seniors citizens will need to understand these concepts in ways they can relate to before they can use these functions effectively.
5. Make How-To Handouts
For everyone learning a new skill, it’s hard to retain everything. This is especially true for senior citizens.
To help them remember and practice skills on their own, make how-to handouts. Provide a list of steps for using each piece of technology and its functions.
For example, when texting you could tell them they first need to go to their messages from the main menu by clicking on the envelope image. Then, they need to find the person they want to text and push “ok.” From there, they can type their message.
6. Have Patience
Remember that seniors citizens didn’t grow up with digital technology. Have patience with your loved one as they learn new skills. Speak to them in a calm manner and set aside enough time to allow them to ask questions.
Prepare to re-teach the same lesson or skill more than once. Just like learning to ride a bike, your elderly loved one likely won’t get it right on the first try.
Seniors and Technology: Practicing Regularly
When it comes to seniors and technology, one lesson won’t do. These technical skills need to be practiced on a regular basis. Schedule regular teaching and practice sessions with senior citizens to help them further their skills.
You should also discuss with them internet safety. Many con artists and scammers target senior citizens precisely because they don’t have advanced technical skills. They may employ these scams over the phone or online.
For this reason, senior citizens need to use caution. Explain to them that they should never reply to suspicious emails. They should also under no circumstances send money or provide financial information online or over the phone unless they trust the source.
You should also tell them to never click any unknown links. This includes emails, pop-up ads, or on a webpage. They should also only seek to visit secure websites with the lock image beside the URL.
Want mom and dad to stay nearby so you can more easily assist them in learning about technology? Check out our blog post detailing 4 tips for building an in-Law suite.