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Helping Hands: Teaching Tips for Seniors and Technology

Jun 20, 2018 | Senior Living

For those of us who grew up using computers, it can be challenging to imagine why someone wouldn’t want to use all of the great technology available. It’s important to remember, though, that for some, technology can be a bit intimidating. Or that sometimes it can seem unnecessary to make the switch from analog methods to digital ones.

Below are some ideas you can use to help seniors understand the benefits of new tech, encourage them to adopt new habits, and learn how to use these incredible devices.

Show Your Stuff

Sometimes, you need to see something to believe it! If you find a senior in your life is resisting communication methods like texting, video chat or group messaging, bring your own tools and show them first-hand how great these things really are.

Start with a laptop or tablet so the features are easy to see and use. Put the needed applications right on the Home screen, so locating them is a breeze. Then, have them do all the steps themselves (this can really help with memory and highlighting ease of use). Presto! They’re seeing their grandchild in real-time, or sending a quick sentiment to a loved one with a quick tap of a finger.

Practice Patience

This tip can be a two-way street. Remember, learning something for the first time is no small feat. And similarly, you don’t want to overwhelm your student with too much information!

  • Start with one relatively simple task.
  • Have the person you’re teaching repeat that task themselves a few times, so you’re both feeling confident.
  • Encourage note taking to further reinforce skills learned.
  • Check in frequently, “Is this pace okay for you? Do you need to see that again?”
  • When teaching multiple skills, don’t forget to take a break in between.

Use Analogies

Comparing a new idea to something a senior already understands can be extremely helpful.

“You’ll love using email. It’s like mailing a letter—but much faster!”
“Facebook is a great way to keep in touch when life gets busy. It’s like being able to call all of your best friends and family members each day for an update!”

You can couple your analogy with a real example to further highlight the benefits as well. “I’m just going to open up my Facebook so we can see Jamie’s new baby. I just type in her name here to see them…look at all the cute pictures!”

Listen and Encourage

Don’t discount feelings of doubt or concern. Make sure you’re actively listening and addressing any concerns that come up. Acknowledge those feelings, and at the same time, reassure the person that it takes time to get comfortable with new technology.

You’re Not Alone

There are some really great resources out there that you can guide seniors to use. Bookmark AARP’s technology section of their website for easy access. There’s another great website called Tech Boomers with free courses on using sites like Facebook, Amazon and Ebay.

Check Back In

Now that they’re using tech, they’re all in! But too much of a good thing is a very real possibility when it comes to the web. Make sure you’re keeping an eye out for proper use of these sites, and that the senior you know is properly informed when it comes to scammers and hacking attempts.