Technology can have a positive impact on the lives of senior citizens. From being able to communicate with others virtually to staying up to date with current events, there are many reasons why technology use can be beneficial for seniors. However, many seniors do not know how to use modern technology or understand all the different ways it can be used. These tips and ideas can be a helpful place to start when teaching a senior about how to use technology.
Have a conversation about technology
Having a conversation with the senior about technology can be a good starting point. Getting an understanding of what the senior already knows and what might interest them about technology will be helpful. It may also be beneficial to explain what technology can be used for and how it can have a positive impact on the senior’s life.. Some seniors may live far away from loved ones and technology can allow them to connect virtually with them. It can also be important for seniors to understand technology well enough to stay updated during emergency situations. Other seniors may find it useful to be able to order items they need online. Simply talking about technology is a great way to begin.
Be detailed when teaching
It is important to be thorough when explaining technology to the senior to ensure they understand new concepts. Keep in mind that many seniors are unfamiliar with modern technology, as it probably has not been a significant part of their everyday lives. Be patient and understanding. What may appear like a simple concept may not be easy for a senior who has not used a certain technological device before. For example, if explaining how to use a cell phone, make sure the senior knows how to turn it on and off and understands that the device needs to be charged regularly. Starting with these types of lessons in the beginning is helpful if the senior is unfamiliar with the new technology.
Don’t just show the senior what to do, have them practice using the technology with you there to assist them. Have the senior use the technology multiple times with you there to guide them, as repetition can help them to commit it to memory. Additionally, write down the directions or create a video demonstrating what to do. After you have finished your tutorial, having a written or video presentation for the senior to review later, will also help to reinforce how to use the technology. Of course, if you create a video, make sure that you also provide the senior with written directions as to how to access the video.
Introduce new concepts gradually
Trying to teach everything at once will likely end up being overwhelming for the senior. Teach based on their own pace and do not rush to explain it all at once. Remember that these are often brand new concepts for seniors and it is entirely understandable if they need to take their time while learning. Consider setting up a scheduled time, such as once a week for 30 minutes, to teach the senior if they wish to learn in that way. Gradually introducing new concepts to the senior will likely lead to a better learning experience overall.
Use accessibility features if needed
Many devices, such as cell phones and tablets, have accessibility features. These can typically be found in the settings of the device. These features can make it easier for some seniors to use technology. If a senior has issues with their sight, for example, many devices have an option to read the text on the screen out loud. There are also ways to increase the text size and zoom in on the screen. For seniors who are hard of hearing, there are often ways to set up closed captions as well, or show them how to attach headphones. Accessibility features can facilitate learning for some seniors.
When you introduce technology to the senior, you need to teach them about security features, and install safeguards. For instance, you should make sure that all cell phones, tablets, and computers have legitimate virus software installed, and when necessary, you should install it yourself. Teach the senior about creating secure passwords, and securing them properly. You may want to install a password manager for them, and even have an account that is shared with you, so that you can assist them with creating and using their passwords.
Teach the senior about phishing emails. If necessary, create whitelists for their email program so that only emails that you know are legitimate will be delivered to them. This can prevent the senior from clicking on a fraudulent email.
Allow time for practice and questions
While learning about technology, it is important that the senior practices using it and actively participates in the lesson. If teaching how to use a tablet, for example, allow the senior to actually use it and practice what they are learning instead of simply showing them what to do. This lets the senior be directly involved and will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the new technology. Additionally, make sure the senior has the opportunity to ask questions. Encourage the senior to ask any questions they might have as they learn.
Use outside resources
Consider using outside resources to help a senior with learning to use technology. Some local libraries have classes specifically for senior citizens to learn about technology. Online resources can also be helpful, such as YouTube videos or online classes. Senior citizens can also practice using technology if they are involved in organizations such as Conversations to Remember. Through Conversations to Remember, senior citizens are able to video chat with student volunteers on a weekly basis. This encourages seniors to regularly use modern technology, which can help them become more comfortable with it.
Be supportive and encouraging
When teaching a senior about technology, it is essential to be supportive of their learning experience.New technology can be daunting and overwhelming at times. Remember to be positive, understanding, and patient. Ensure that the senior is having a positive experience and feels encouraged while they are learning. Being supportive and reassuring is an important part of teaching a senior to use technology.
The Benefits of Technology for Seniors. Saint Simeon’s. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://saintsimeons.org/blog/technology-use-seniors/
Brookdale Senior Living. (2018, April 1). Tech Tips: 10 Tips for Teaching Technology to Seniors. Brookdale Senior Living. Retrieved from https://www.brookdale.com/en/brookdale-life/blogs/2017/04/tech-tips-10-tips-for-teaching-technology-to-seniors.html
The Goodman Group. (2021, March 4). Teaching Seniors Technology to Inspire ‘Active Aging’. The Goodman Group. Retrieved from https://blog.thegoodmangroup.com/teaching-seniors-technology