To help senior loved ones overcome the barriers keeping them from experiencing the benefits of technology, try these approaches:Share
- Ease into things. Start by expanding your senior loved one’s use of technology she’s already comfortable with. For instance, if Mom uses a cell phone only to make calls, teach her how to text with it. Once the senior is comfortable with texting, you can introduce the idea of getting a smartphone.
- Appeal to the heart—not the mind—to demonstrate the benefits of technology. If your loved one is skeptical of the benefits of using technology, start with the heart. Using your own tablet or laptop computer, show your senior loved one photos shared by family members on social networking sites. If the senior feels she’s missing out on these interactions, she’ll be more interested in learning how to get online.
- Choose the right device. The Pew Center report showed seniors feel much more comfortable with tablet computers and e-book readers than with smartphones. This may be due to age-related physical limitations, such as arthritic fingers, that can make gadgets difficult to operate. In this case, a tablet with a touch screen may be easier for a senior to use than a smartphone that requires precise manipulation to operate.
- Offer one-on-one instruction. When a senior just wants to learn how to read an e-book or go on Facebook, enrolling in a computer class could be overkill. A better approach may be to sit down with your loved one and teach him only the things he wants to know right now. This method doesn’t overwhelm him with unnecessary detail. If your loved one uses professional home care services, this might be a great activity for your loved one to do with his caregiver.
- Recruit the grandkids to help. No matter how much you love your parent, the role-reversal involved in teaching your parent a new skill may cause tension in your relationship. On the other hand, the grandchildren may not have to overcome this constraint, and they’re likely much more technologically savvy.
- Exercise patience. Your senior family member may need help time and again to remember all the steps involved in performing a particular task. Try to be patient, knowing that eventually this repetition may result in her developing a new skill that can bring her a wealth of knowledge and entertainment during her later years. (Read more.)