Internet and smartphones offer a great connectivity tool that can benefit the elderly, but many of them are uncomfortable utilizing these resources. Fortunately, you can help build a bridge between modern technology and their personal interests by showing them how to use these tools to improve their lives. Although some older individuals may initially be resistant, it is important to note that learning to embrace technology can have a big impact on their level of socialization, knowledge, and even their physical and mental health. That being said, you can use these eight tips to help your grandparents utilize modern technology.
1. Show Them How to Get Medical Assistance.
The medical world and technology have a great marriage, but all of the perks associated with online patient portals and tracking apps are lost to those who do not know how to use them. Sadly, a recent study indicated that most senior citizens are not using digital health resources. To help your loved one overcome this technological deficit, it is best to explain to them what the practical benefits are of contacting their physician online and turning to smartphone apps to manage their medical conditions.
For example, if they have high blood pressure they can use a wireless smartphone connection with a blood pressure cuff in order to track their daily results and report them to their doctor. Not only will this save a lot of time and money on office visits, but it could also end up saving their life.
2. Meet Them at Their Interest Level
Everyone learns best when their personal interests are engaged. Therefore, if you truly want to get your grandparents to learn about modern technology, it is wise to show them how it ties into their favorite activities. Bingo games that you can play online are definitely a good way to get many older people into technology. After all, if they want to play bingo or learn about other games from the comfort of their home, they will no longer need to invite several people over. Much in the same way that Pokemon Go is getting formerly reclusive gamers to leave their homes and walk for several hours a day, online games can be a useful bridge between the elderly and technology.
3. Keep Everything Simple
Computers can be overwhelming for those without a lot of technological exposure. The good news is that many companies have begun focusing on providing computers and tablets that are geared toward seniors. Touchscreen tablets are a good example because they are larger than smartphones, yet they don’t require as much navigational know-how as a standard laptop or desktop.
By giving your older loved one a tablet or computer that was created with the elderly in mind, it will be easier for them to get used to everything without getting frustrated and overwhelmed. Each positive learning experience will make them feel more comfortable about exploring modern technology.
4. Help Them Enroll in Local Classes.
Many communities offer free or low-cost computer classes for the elderly, which will enable your grandparents to learn with their peers. This added level of socialization is always a good thing, and the classes should be taught at a pace that the majority of older adults can keep up with. This will also remove the stress that they may feel when a younger family member attempts to teach them. After all, they may end up feeling discouraged if they are unable to learn the new information quickly enough to keep up with you. This factor should be removed in a senior computer class.
5. Engage Their Sense of Nostalgia.
One of the biggest things that attract the elderly to the internet is having the opportunity to see old photos and reconnect with lost family members and friends. Therefore, introducing them to their high school class Facebook group or a website of historical images from their hometown may be the perfect way to break through their technophobia. After they see how useful the computer and internet can be, they are likely to become interested in expanding their technical knowledge even further.
6. Show Them the Human Elements.
It is common for older individuals to decry technological advancements such as texting as impersonal. To get past this misconception, you will need to help your loved one focus on the human elements of modern technology. For instance, allow them to experience the joys of sending an email to a close friend or relative without waiting several weeks to get a reply via the mail service. This instant level of connection has inspired 81 percent of adults 75 or older to begin using email.
Another great way to get them in touch with the human element is by teaching them about online video chatting or the iPhone’s FaceTime option. Enabling them to see the person they are speaking to will enhance the positive mental health benefits of socialization, and it is also likely to help them more quickly become interested in using this type of technology.
7. Teach Them about the Dangers of Online Scams
Although you won’t want to intimidate them into not using the internet or their new smartphone, it is still imperative to have a discussion with your grandparents or elderly parents about the risk of cybercrime. Older adults are more likely than other age groups to become the victim of identity theft or an online scam. Therefore, when you teach them how to get online, don’t neglect to give them some tips that can help protect them as they get used to modern technology. Keep in mind that if they do fall prey to a cybercriminal, your odds of getting them to go back online are going to dwindle. Also, most seniors are on a fixed income, so it is absolutely vital to protect their financial interests.
8. Show Them How to Volunteer Online
Is your elderly loved one a big proponent of giving back to the world? Perhaps they used to physically volunteer somewhere on a regular basis but are no longer able to comfortably do so. If that’s the case, they may love being given the opportunity to help others by going online. Everything from donating rice to those in need by playing a trivia game to teaching young students how to speak English via the Speaking Exchange can be accomplished online. This can give philanthropic seniors a great reason to learn about technology, and it will also help them stay constructive during their spare time.
Ultimately, the best way to get anyone interested in new technology is by helping them see how it can positively impact their life. Therefore, whether they are a lifelong learner who will be enticed by free online courses or are a music lover who would get a lot of joy from Pandora and Spotify, you can show members of the older generation everything there is to love about embracing technology by meeting them halfway.
Featured photo credit: Beyond Access via flic.kr