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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How To Celebrate 'Older Americans Month' by Empowering Our Seniors to Understand and Use Technology

The month of May has many holidays including Memorial Day, but did you know it's also 'Older Americans Month'. This holiday honors our senior adults by recognizing the challenges they faced while helping shape our country as well as helping empower them to help them live independently and to bring awareness to the challenges they face such as elder abuse. One of the biggest challenges seniors face is technology. The benefits of technology are endless, but constant changes that occur with technology make it difficult for seniors to keep up, especially when it comes to cyber security. Do you have an older adult in your life who struggles with technology? How about celebrating Older Americans Month by helping those seniors in your life who struggle with ever-changing technology.

Many seniors can feel left behind in our digital world. A lot of times, your favorite senior may have a hard time understanding the technical terms that are being tossed around. Most of the time, it's people who don't have the patience to translate those technology terms for older adults. but that doesn’t mean that they can’t start learning how to use technology. At Integral, we have many customers who are in their 90s who work with technology daily. So there is no excuse for anyone to understand technology

A little patience ... yeah yeah. Many of the aspects of technology, seniors will be facing for the first time. Just like it took you a while to understand it, it will take them sometime too ... especially since they may have never used technology before. Patience is important because it will encourage and motivate them to get a better understanding of technology. Remember to always say positive things and be there to help whenever they need it.

Make sure they understand the benefits. There are many forms of technology seniors don't want to embrace because they don't see how it will benefit them. There are many of you who will try to introduce a smartphone or tablet into the life of your senior because you find it useful. For many seniors, there is no benefit for a tablet ... sometimes not even a smartphone. Take a look to find out if the piece of technology is going to benefit them. You might suggest a smart home device for easy contact or entertainment, just make sure they will get something useful out of the technology you suggest. It's helpful if you find technology that will make their daily routines or hobbies easier.

Make sure tech devices can handle their limitations. Some seniors have physical limitations that make technology more challenging to use. If they have a vision problem, make sure the device you give them has the ability to zoom. Also, if they have poor circulation or arthritis, it can affect how they are able to use devices.

Let them work on it themselves. Most people learn how to use computers and gadgets by interacting with them, especially seniors. Most people will take the device away and let the senior peer at the gadget, but it's best you let them do the steps themselves because it will help with muscle memory and make it easy for them to learn how to navigate the device.

Don't forget to teach them about cyber security. Making seniors cyber aware is a must. Many cyberthreats are directed to seniors and you need to make sure they know how to spot spammy emails and texts as well as knowing not to give out sensitive information to the many criminals that will attempt to get their private information. It's also important to teach them the importance of using strong passwords and different passwords for online accounts.

Avoid Tech Terms. Stop with the geek speak and tech talk when you're with seniors. All you will do is confuse them. It's helpful to seniors when you use simple everyday words when helping them learn technology. Don't over-complicate the process and for the love of God, make them write stuff down.

When you follow these steps working with seniors who are struggling with technology, they will become more confident and will want to use their devices more and more. Give them positive feedback as they accomplish each step, and encourage them to continue to explore technology. I hope you can use these tips to help the older adults in your life learn more about their devices. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!

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