If you’re an adult child or grandchild in this day of ever-evolving technological advances, at some point you’ll likely find yourself teaching seniors technology. With so much happening online and through our smart devices, it’s natural to want senior loved ones to be able to join in. Some seniors, of course, will have already taken to new technology like a fish to water or they’ll be excited to learn more, but if they feel hesitant, you may want to start by highlighting the benefits of technology for seniors.
Benefits of Technology for Seniors
Texting, video chats and social media are all great ways for seniors to stay in touch with family and friends. If they want to know how their grandchildren’s vacation was, they can check out the photos on Instagram. If they want to see a new great-grandchild who lives far away, they can video call on Skype, FaceTime or Zoom. One of the best tactics for how to encourage seniors to use technology is explaining how it brings their loved ones closer.
Almost anything they may want to learn is on the internet. They can find endless audiobooks on Audible or library apps and e-books for their e-reader. Podcasts cover myriad topics, and they can make workouts or car rides more interesting. If they really want to pursue education, they can even finish a new degree online.
Games with grandkids, daily crosswords, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, email trivia — they can play almost any game on their phone, tablet or laptop. There are even specialized games designed for seniors to sharpen cognition and memory.
More and more doctors are offering tele-health appointments and new health reporting options. Doctors’ offices can now connect to patients’ smartwatches to gather up-to-the-minute data about heart rate, oxygen levels and activity reports.
Smartwatches can also send alerts to emergency services or loved ones if a senior falls and doesn’t respond. If a senior loved one is showing signs of dementia, you can find smartwatches that allow you to set a safety perimeter. That way, if your loved one wanders over the perimeter, the smartwatch will send alerts to emergency contacts and help you find them. Loved ones are finding these new innovations are some of the best apps for seniors with dementia, because they give everyone added peace of mind.
Tips for Teaching Seniors Technology
- Patience (for both of you)
If you grew up with the internet and computers, there may be many aspects of technology that seem like second nature to you but are completely new to seniors of a certain age . It’s important for both of you to start this process with the knowledge that it may take time for them to feel comfortable and confident without guidance — but it will be worth the effort.
- Highlight the Benefits
Some people are natural learners — they’re excited by the mere act of learning something new. Others need a little more incentive to put in the necessary work. If that’s the case when you’re teaching technology to seniors, help them focus on what their goals are with technology, maybe some of the benefits listed above.
- Speak Their Language
There’s a lot of jargon around some of this new technology, and while the terms may seem clear to you, they may confuse a senior who is unfamiliar. For example, instead of “upload a file” you might just say, “transfer a file.” Or instead of saying “plug in the USB,” just say, “plug in the connector.” You may even point out terms they’re already familiar with, like CC on an email. Tell them it stands for carbon copy — they know what that is! Connecting new skills to ones they already know can help them feel more comfortable.
- Let Them Do It
It can be tempting to speed through things that seem simple to you, but take it slow and talk the senior through each step of a task. Let them develop the muscle memory and familiarity that comes with practice.
- Encourage Notes
Suggest the senior keep a notebook with step-by-step instructions of each task. Writing helps reinforce memory, and they can keep the notes close by as a reference for when they practice without you there.
- Make Sure They’re Safe
Teach them about internet security. Encourage them to always look for the lock icon in the address bar of a website before they provide personal or financial information. Warn them not to open emails from sources they don’t recognize. Advise them not to click on links that look suspicious. Seniors are common targets for scams, so whatever you can do to help them stay safe will offer you both great peace of mind.
Technology influences some of the wonderful activities at Sagewood, including the popular Wii® tournaments. To find out more about the vibrant lifestyle here, please reach out. A member of the team would be happy to discuss it further.