While technology is often associated with younger generations, the older population can benefit tremendously from learning the ropes when it comes to computers, the internet and smartphones. These tips and tricks can help.
Benefits of technology for seniors
The benefits of learning to use technology even at an advanced age are many:
- Paying bills online eases the burden of running errands and can even automate the bill-paying process
- Email allows your aging relative or friend the ability to stay in touch with busy friends and family without the added cost of postage and inconvenience of snail mail
- The internet offers an endless array of learning opportunities to pass the time and prevent cognitive decline
- Social media keeps your friend or family member in touch with their kids, grandkids, neighbors and friends and allows them to access photos and stories in real time
- Many healthcare providers allow their clients to access their test results, upcoming appointments and even their physician through online portals, allowing your friend or family member to stay involved in their own healthcare
- Most communities use their social media pages or websites to share community events with residents; it’s a great place to see what’s going on in the community
Getting started is easy
The first step in getting set up with technology is answering the question, “What device is appropriate?” If your friend or family member already knows how to operate a computer (specifically the mouse – that’s often the hardest to learn), you may choose to purchase a desktop or laptop computer. Many older adults find it’s easier to learn on a mid-sized device, like a tablet, with a touchscreen and those living in retirement communities may already have access to a computer or tablet and the internet, so no purchase is necessary.
Once a device has been chosen and is available for use, assist your friend or family member by setting up the device for simplicity. Ensure they have access to the apps they desire and assist them in creating accounts and setting up automatic logins wherever possible and safe.
Finally, spend some time accessing the internet together and using it for the purposes that make the most sense. Demonstrate how to send an email, for example, or how to pay the electricity bill. Show them how social media works and help them make their first post or send their first message. If you aren’t easily accessible for questions that arise later, consider creating simple guides to keep handy, such as “how to check your email” or “how to check your test results.” Include every step and even screenshots if possible.
Tips and tricks to create ease of use
While technology may seem easy for the children and grandchildren of older adults, it’s important to remember that your aging relative hasn’t been using technology their entire life and in most cases, it’s just not easy at first. These tips and tricks can help your friend or relative master technology.
- Find somebody who can help with troubleshooting issues; in a retirement community, a staff member or friend may be willing to help
- Leave easy-to-find guides near the computer so they can choose what they want to do and simply follow the steps. Address problems in the guides, such as, “If you see this error, click here.”
- Start small. Ask your friend or family member, “Why would you like to learn how to use the internet?” If they say, “To stay in touch with family,” then start with social media. If they say, “To connect with my doctor,” then start with their provider’s smart chart application. Once they get the hang of one platform, you can introduce another.
- Talk about safety early. Tell your friend or family member that some people use the internet to scam others out of money, personal information and more. Share warning signs of a scam and tell them what to do if they worry about safety or authenticity. Remind them to never share their personal information over the internet.
With a little help, many older adults can learn to use technology to their benefit. As a matter of fact, many Lake Park residents say technology has brought them closer to family members and friends and given them more time to do the things they love. To learn more about technology for seniors or Lake Park retirement community, contact us today.