Have you ever watched a three-year-old play with the apps on an iPhone? It’s amazing to see how easily and eagerly younger generations embrace new technology. Although many seniors struggle to send e-mails and access the Internet, children below the age of eight can often navigate their parents’ smartphones with ease. So if a senior in your life never learned the basics of computers, e-mailing, and the Internet, why not give them a hand? Not only are computers fun and convenient, but they can help seniors keep in touch with their younger family members and friends. Helping seniors with computers can be tricky, so be sure to take your time, move slowly, and use the six helpful tips we’ve listed below.
Helping Seniors with Computers
1. Figure out your starting point. Does your loved one know what it means to “click” on something? Can they organize their documents and photos in folders? Can they attach a photo to an e-mail? Figure out your starting point and work from there.
2. Discuss goals. When a senior decides to embrace computers late in life, they do so for a reason. What are your loved one’s goals? Would they like to send and receive e-mails? Play games and watch videos? Type, write, and save their musings? Join a social media site? Access online banking? Start with the easiest of their goals and tackle one at a time.
3. Teach them how to use Google. One of the reasons that young people are so successful with computers is that they aren’t afraid to explore the technology and learn things on their own. So one of your first lessons should center on how to use Google and search the Internet. If your loved one ever has a question and you’re not around, tell them to rely on Google. When it comes to computer education, you can find everything you need online.
4. Take notes or make study guides. If your loved one often forgets your lessons, have them take notes or create a simple study guide for them. Encourage them to make their own notes, because they’ll be more likely to understand their own words/drawings later. Having typed-out or written-down directions and notes are often very comforting and helpful to seniors who are learning about computers for the first time.
5. Use a book for extra assistance. When you can’t be around, your loved one might like to use a computer book for help. Just be sure to choose a book that focuses on the basics, is easy to understand, and includes pictures. Although a book isn’t necessary, many seniors are more comfortable with books than Google, especially when they’re first learning about computers.
6. Encourage them to take a class. Many retirement communities, schools, and libraries offer free computer classes for seniors. Even if your loved one has already learned a lot from you, encourage your loved one to take part in a class. A different teacher will offer different lessons, after all, and use different teaching techniques.
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In addition to these six tips, remember to move slowly, praise their accomplishments (even if they seem small to you), and have patience. And if you’re looking for a senior living facility in the Midwest, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place. Our eight senior living facilities are located in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee, and they all contain computer chat rooms! If you would like to take a tour of one of our facilities, please click here.