Helping Seniors Get Acquainted With Technology

Written by on October 9, 2020 in Technology with 0 Comments


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Whether we realize it or not, technology is an integral part of our society. We’ve become so accustomed to using technology in every aspect of our lives that we don’t even notice it anymore. It’s almost like our second nature. For digital natives, a world without technology and the countless benefits it brings is almost unimaginable.

However, older generations are experiencing technology quite differently. Seniors are finding it harder to adapt to technological advances and they’re not as skilled as younger people when it comes to using gadgets and smart devices. That’s because they didn’t grow up having all these elements around them and learning new skills at an older age proves more difficult.

But that doesn’t mean the aging population is not willing to embrace technology. On the contrary, a lot of seniors would love to learn more about technology and how it can help them improve their lives. Yet they cannot do it alone. They’ll require assistance from someone who is willing to teach them the ins and outs of technology and make the process smoother for them. So, if you’re thinking about helping your parents or an older relative learn to use technology, here are some tips to get started.

Go slow

Seniors are not as disconnected from the digital world as some might assume. They do use technology to some extent, even though they’re not as digitally inclined as younger people. Statistics show that in 2018 66% of US seniors were already using the internet, a significant growth from the 14% recorded in 2000. The elderly are keen on learning to use technology, but it takes time for them to get accustomed with the ever-changing digital landscape. There’s a lot of information they have to process, so it’s better to introduce them to new concepts slowly in order to avoid information overload. You should have multiple short sessions rather than one interminable one and allow them to absorb the information they receive.

Be patient

As you can imagine, starting small and taking things slowly means that progress won’t happen overnight. It’s important to let your students learn at a pace that is convenient for them and not rush them into doing things that are too complicated. You have to be really patient and explain things over and over again, as many times as it’s necessary for them to get a grasp on what you’re trying to teach. They’ll also have a lot of questions and even though some might sound strange, you must encourage them to ask away. That will make seniors feel more comfortable and gain more confidence in using their newly learned digital skills.

Explain using simple terms

The language you use when explaining new concepts is also important. Terms such as emoji, selfie or GIFs have entered the common vocabulary and while most people have no problem in understanding them, they might sound completely unfamiliar to the elderly. Don’t assume they’ll understand all tech terms just because everybody seems to be suing them these days. Choose your words carefully and use simple terms that seniors can understand. Obviously, you won't be able to avoid using tech terminology. But when you do have to use them, take a moment and explain what those terms mean. To make it easier for them to understand, give them examples, or even better, show them what you’re talking about.

Let them practice

As always, practice makes perfect. Learning by doing is the best method to develop and strengthen new skills. You must encourage seniors to put all the theoretical knowledge they’ve gained into practice. As tempting as it might be to help them every time they have to perform a difficult task, it’s important to let them do things on their own. Seniors must learn how to interact with technology by themselves and the only way to do that is by allowing them to complete tasks without your intervention. This will also make it easier for them to remember the steps they have to follow in different situations.

Offer assistance when required

As important as it is to engage with technology on their own, seniors also need constant reassurance and assistance. The digital world can seem daunting and they need to know you’re there to support them and help them navigate this intricate and fascinating environment. Clearly, it’s not always possible to be next to them and offer the guidance they require, but once again technology can provide the solution. When you need to offer support for someone from a distance, you can use a remote pc access software that allows you to remotely control a computer or another device from another device.

Write things down

You can’t expect a senior to remember everything you’re trying to teach him in one go. It’s much easier to retain new concepts when they have them written down on paper. Besides, the elderly are accustomed to write by hand, since it’s a learning method they’ve already used in the past and will give them a sense of familiarity and comfort. Having a notebook where they can write the most important points in every lesson can prove extremely useful for the learning process. So, when they forget something or they want to practice some more, they can simply go over their notes and refresh their memory.

Celebrate progress

Sometimes, seniors can feel out of place when using technology. They might feel like they’re doing everything wrong and they won’t be able to develop any tech skills at all, even if they are actually making progress. You have to explain that it’s perfectly normal to deal with insecurities and feelings of confusion as a newbie in the digital realm, and most importantly you have to celebrate every little victory. Whenever they succeed at doing something, even if it’s just a small task, praise them for their accomplishment. That will serve as a motivation and make them want to acquire further tech knowledge.

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