The Baby boomers and those before them may hesitate to embrace the use of digital tools but they should be encouraged, because they still have so much to gain from joining the smart generation.
Seniors have witnessed a drastic turn in advances in technology during their lifetime. Rotary telephones have giving way to smart cellular phones. Televisions no longer pull in programming over the airwaves but instead receive hundreds of high-definition digital channels through fiber optic cables. Automobiles can park themselves, and respond to voice-controlled media programming via a full-color screen in the dashboard. “It happened so fast.” They say.
Considering the highly digital world we live in, it has become necessary to help the elderly become confident and empowered when it comes to using a smart devices.
Here are a few tips to help encourage your loved ones to embrace a variety of different tools.
Make it appeal to their existing interests: Consider the types of activities your parent or family member enjoys doing. For example, do they prioritize staying connected with friends, grandchildren and other family members? Introduce such a person to social media networks like Facebook and Instagram to do so, ensuring they know how to use it and are not abused while using it.
If your loved one is an avid reader, introduce them to e-readers, audio books and related apps. Perhaps they are a movie buff but can’t easily make it to the theater anymore. For movie lovers, streaming services like Amazon and Netflix would do a lot of good. For a news and politics enthusiast, teaching them to stay up to date with a news app, online versions of newspapers, podcasts or even Twitter.
Keep it simple: Understanding some of these smart devices and apps can be tough for the average person of any age to navigate. Plus, some of our seniors still prefer analogue methods and haven’t had as many years of technology exposure as those in younger generations have. It’s important to be patient while teaching them, using simple terms. In my mind’s eye, I can see my mom looking utterly lost and confused when I use words like Algorithm, Search Engine Optimisation or robotics while teaching her to use social media or take a selfie.
Additionally, it would be worth the while to consider the fact that many seniors have gone decades without using such tools and survived just fine. This alone could make them want to drop it like it’s hot if it’s too complex for their understanding.
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 should be the last option. A better approach would be to sit down with your loved one and teach only the things (s)he should know right now.
Let the grand-kids offer to help: Let them teach their grandparent in their own language. Sometimes the laughter and bantering when granny makes a mistake helps.
Encourage them to join their peers: The number of seniors accessing the internet, and using smartphones or tablets is increasing. Seeing someone of your age and circumstances, doing it already can easily be a motivator.
Adopting new digital habits may not happen overnight but how you usually help them adapt to new devices matter. In the end, technology is helping the senior population continue to lead quality and independent lives.