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Helping Seniors Fall in Love with Tech Devices That Change Their Lives

Helping Seniors Fall in Love with Tech Devices That Change Their Lives

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We have done a good job in getting our seniors to accept the latest technology, according to the latest statistics about seniors adopting technology.

More than accepting it, many now wonder what they did without it!

They have smartphones in their pockets, tablets for their apps and laptops on their dinner table. Now what?

If you have had the same experiences that we have had, you are probably pulling your hair out!

Let’s all take a breath and remember the benefits that they will get once they can say “I got that!”

Getting Seniors Started with Technology

With every new device or even app that our senior loved ones want to use and will accept – or that we are hoping they will – comes a set up and training session (at least one!).

Getting the device charged, registered, passwords established, wireless connections and printers installed does take a bit of time on our part.

This is very often just the beginning. What do they do next?

We need to show them what to do from the very beginning including:

  • how to turn on the device
  • adjust the volume
  • set the ringtones
  • adjust privacy settings
  • get their favorite backgrounds
  • open the apps after they are installed
  • take a photo, send it to social media or download as a file
  • sync their devices
  • charge the devices
  • use FaceTime
  • type onto a tablet
  • alter the font size for the reading app
  • download books using an account
  • surf the net on the device
  • protect the device with covers, cases or carrying bags
  • how to turn on the ringtones and then quiet the ringer

Don’t overlook how to simply make or receive a call, since those functions in smartphones are very different from home phones or not-so-smart cell phones.

Some of these things seem so minor to us but they can be overwhelming and at times deal breakers for our seniors. Helping them make their new devices as user friendly as possible will help them accept and use them more often.

Answering the Multitude of Questions

If your senior loved one is anything like ours, you will have to constantly answer questions. Oftentimes the questions get asked over and over again. Don’t get frustrated, because that’s a good thing. Better to ask a question until comfort is reached than leave us assuming they know.

Many times the questions come over the phone and we struggle to understand what the actual problem is so that we can help with the solution. We seem to end up saying we will come over and help or bring the computer next time you visit and we will do it together. Does this sound familiar?

“How do I send that picture to my email?”

“How can I print this photo on photo paper for the album?”

“Why isn’t my phone making a sound when you text me?”

We have begun making scripts that outline every process using step by step guidelines for every action so that what we show them when we are together they will be able to duplicate when they are home again.

It is natural that they have questions for a few reasons. They aren’t using the technology in the same way that we do and don’t use it often enough to become familiar and comfortable with it.

They may also be afraid one wrong move will kill the device and break the internet. It is hard to overcome the fear that they could do something wrong. They also have trouble remembering all the details, especially when they get a little complicated.

Updating Their Devices

Another area where our seniors seem to have a big issue is updating their systems.

One session we had with a family member and a laptop computer that needed 31 updates and took quite awhile installing them all. It seems there is some misunderstanding about why updates are needed and if it was safe to update when prompted.

After all, the computer worked, right? In the next breath, though, we learned of frustration the computer had been running so slowly of late.

Once it was updated, ran faster and worked without as many hiccups it became clear why the updates were necessary.

Keeping your device up to date with the latest software updates can actually protect your computer from malware and security breaches. Updates provide patches that can protect your computer from the latest problems hackers have invented.

Seniors need help understanding this concept and that updates don’t cost them money or hurt their computer.

Once they do, they may ask for help updating tech gadgets, such at TVs and Blu-ray players they never realized needed software updates.

Apps We Love for Seniors

With the latest, greatest devices come some really interesting and useful apps. We work with many seniors and find that there are quite a few apps that they find appealing.

Here is a list of those that we think are fun and beneficial for seniors:

  1. Books – print and audio. There are a multitude of sites that provide a reading/listening experience so whichever your senior and you like best or works with your operating system would be great. We like Kindle, BookShout, Audible, Nook and iBooks. Many books can be found for avid readers that are free. It takes a bit of looking through free books on these apps but you can find many good titles and self-help books for free or a very low price.
  2. GPS/Maps – even for those with all their routes memorized, having a mapping app handy can help when in a new location or looking for a store or landmark that isn’t on the usual route. Be sure to show them how to set it up for walking vs. driving directions so they get the best route no matter their mode of travel.
  3. TV Guide – being able to see at a glance what TV programs are coming on and bookmarking your senior’s favorite shows or channels is much better than waiting for the newspaper with the small print.
  4. Cable TV – many cable providers have apps that can be used wirelessly to stream onto their tablets. They can watch their favorite programs on the tablet while they sit on the back porch or in the swing in the yard.
  5. Calendar app – a good calendar app that has features they need, like appointment reminders, that can be set an different time intervals using familiar sounds is a great idea. They can set up medication reminders, birthday reminders and any type of alert they want to remember. We like Informant but there are many others from which you can choose.
  6. Social Media – apps on the tablet or smartphone for social media sites they use will make it quick and easy to see the latest family pictures.
  7. Music – being able to stream their favorite music from apps like Pandora where they can set up favorite music or iHeart Radio that allows them to pick their favorite station/genre, as well as iTunes that lets them download and buy songs and make playlists. They will have music wherever they go.
  8. Pharmacy – adding the local pharmacy’s app to their devices allows them to pre-order prescriptions, check if they are ready, get coupons, get reward points for purchases and order printing of photos from their device. It also provides a ready list of all their prescriptions in one place along with their refill status.
  9. Weather – getting an app that gives them hour by hour forecasts, alerts for storms and radar images so they know when to take shelter promote safety not to mention just cool!

Our senior loved ones will enjoy these and SO many other apps.

Avoid “Too Much Too Fast”

Be care not to overwhelm them with too many apps right away, though, or it may confirm assumptions new technology is just too hard to learn.

When we ease senior loved ones into it, they can find their devices and apps are great for entertainment, mind engagement, social activity, memory creation and enjoyment, and for staying safe.

What other apps do you know that will provide real benefits to your senior loved ones?

We may always have to help them through and answer their questions and even troubleshoot regularly, but that just cements our bond and makes us indispensable to them! That’s a good thing for family caregivers.

If sometimes their need for help is overwhelming for you, involve a grandchild who would love to have an opportunity to show grandpa how to do it!

When we help them love their technology devices without fear or frustration, we will help them realize immeasurable benefits — and realize some for ourselves.

6 Responses to Helping Seniors Fall in Love with Tech Devices That Change Their Lives

  1. This is wonderful. I have been searching for a way to get my regional Directors involved with teaching tech to our seniors.
    Thank You a thousand times over.
    Fred Olsen
    Alberta Council on Aging

    • You are welcome Fred, we hope that we can help all caregivers improve the life of our beloved seniors! Good luck!

  2. Really need to learn more !! Beyond, barely, the Basic of my laptop, but want to learn sooo much more. Please let me know where. Thank you

    • Carole, we hope that you will be able to learn more about technology so that you can gain all its benefits. There are many places that are helping seniors learn about their devices such as local aging organizations, libraries, cellular providers, and lifelong learning centers. There are always private individuals who will be happy to help you learn how to use your devices to their fullest! Good luck!

  3. My mom has gotten to be pretty savvy with her iPad. The iPhone, too. FaceTime is a must for us as she is hard of hearing. We are trying to get her to learn to use her Mac to start writing again. We thought we were doing a good thing by getting a user friendly Mac but she had used a PC so long we should have stuck with that operating system. Live and learn.

    • We think a tablet is a great idea for seniors who might have trouble with a smartphone due to vision or dexterity. They can read books, visit with family and friends, engage in social media, shop online, surf the net, play games and manage just about anything with apps. We advised our seniors to keep the operating systems all the same for just that reason — not having to learn a new platform or having difficulty syncing with other devices. Good luck and congrats that you are helping your mom be tech savvy!

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

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