You may have been good with tech when you were younger, but many of us tend to become less technologically savvy as we grow older. We find it hard to keep up with fast changing technology.
This can actually be dangerous as seniors are at a higher risk of tech-based fraud and scams. Seniors also miss out on the many learning, entertainment and socialising opportunities that tech brings.
We explain why it is important for the elderly to learn technology, and some simple ways to teach yourself or your elderly loved one basic technology.
6 Reasons Why Seniors Should Learn Technology
1. To Protect Themselves
Seniors are at a higher risk of various kinds of tech frauds.
For example, someone might pretend to be tech support and convince a senior that they have a serious virus in their computer. They then ask for hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix the problem.
Seniors also frequently fall prey to phishing scams when they unknowingly open and respond to fraudulent messages via email, text or social media.
Lack of knowledge on safe browsing is also a huge problem for the elderly. They are more likely to click on suspicious links and download viruses onto their phone or computer.
Learning technology, even just the basic stuff, protects seniors from a host of potentially bankrupting problems.
They’ll be unlikely to fall into a trap when they know how to browse safely online, how to spot suspicious emails, and when a deal is too good to be true.
2. To Make Their Lives Easier
Technology has made our lives immensely easier and more convenient. So why should the elderly not experience these benefits simply because they are not as good at tech as younger people?
There are plenty of ways seniors can use technology to make their life easier. For example, they can order for groceries and other things while at home, which is an especially huge advantage for seniors with limited mobility.
They can also easily request for services like transport, plumbing, electrical repair and so on.
Telehealth is another big area where the elderly can benefit by learning technology. It doesn’t replace doctor’s visits, but can make regular checkups much easier.
The bottomline is that learning technology gives seniors access to a wide range of products and services from the comfort of their home.
3. To Keep Up With Current Events
Knowing what’s going on in the world can help seniors feel less isolated from society, especially those who live alone.
It’s also important for them to be aware of what’s happening as it might affect them.
To be honest, newspapers are no longer enough to keep up with everything that’s happening in the world. The web is the best way to follow news and current events.
Simply knowing how to visit and log into their favourite news site can help seniors stay informed.
It’s also important for them to learn how to get news from trustworthy sources and how to spot fake news, which is a big problem today especially in social media.
4. To Socialise
It’s crucial that seniors meet up with other people often. It’s good for their physical and mental wellbeing.
Online socialisation can also help a great deal in combating loneliness and boredom. Social media isn’t just for young people. Sure, Facebook and other platforms come with risks like misinformation and scams, but that’s why it’s important for seniors to learn how to use them safely.
Being part of a Facebook group and being able to message far away friends is worth the effort.
In addition to social media, there are lots of niche online forums that older people can join. You can even join online communities for your hobbies like bird watching, knitting, photography and so on. It’s a great way to learn new things, share your work and make new friends.
5. To Have Fun
While the telly is fun, it doesn’t match the amount and variety of fun things that you can do online. So instead of watching TV all day, introduce your elderly loved one to fun activities they can do with their computer or phone.
Ideas include watching videos on YouTube, playing online games (include some multiplayer games if you want to combine fun and socialising), filling out crossword puzzles, playing music, shopping, reading and much more.
Even apps like TikTok and Instagram that are typically associated with young people can be really fun for seniors as well. They can even try their hand at creating and sharing content. Just make sure they consume content moderately. It shouldn’t get to a point where they spend all day online at the expense of face to face interactions.
6. To Learn
You no longer need to go to a physical classroom or even a library to learn. As long as you have a phone, tablet or computer and access to the internet, you can learn just about anything wherever you are.
For seniors who have trouble moving around, this is a big deal.
Learning new things not only keeps seniors occupied, it is also highly beneficial for their brains. It keeps your mind sharp, boosts memory, and reduces the risk of dementia. For seniors already with dementia, it can help slow down its progress.
Learning online can range from watching interesting YouTube videos to taking a full course in a particular area.
You can also borrow and read books online, attend virtual classes, learn a new language and even learn a musical instrument.
And the best thing is that there are plenty of free or low cost learning resources available, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money.
How To Teach Seniors Technology
Here are some tips for teaching the elderly technology.
- Introduce them to the wonders of technology. Many seniors don’t bother with technology because they don’t think it matters. Showing them that they can Shazam a song, identify a garden weed by taking a picture of it or order something and it arrives at their door can change their minds and get them excited about learning technology.
- Start with the basics. Most seniors know how to use basic technology like using email, browsing the web or downloading apps. But if they don’t know how to, start there. You can then build on these basics to teach them additional skills.
- Explain the benefits of what you are teaching them. Everyone learns more easily and enthusiastically when they know how something will benefit them. For instance, before you teach them how to download apps, let them know why they might need various apps.
- Use simple and easy to understand language. Words and terms that are commonplace for you may be technical jargon for them.
- Practise together. Don’t just explain how to download an app, do it together. It makes it a lot easier for them to understand. The same applies to things like email, browsing the web, using social media and so on.
- Don’t assume that you know everything. Even tech savvy adults can be bad at things like cyber security. Before you explain a concept, touch up on it yourself to make sure you cover all the important areas. For instance, here’s a great explainer on internet security.
- Emphasise safety and privacy. Show them how to set their privacy settings, how to avoid online scams, how to browse safely and how to share wisely on social media.
- Introduce them to online resources for seniors. Websites like Age UK, Silver Line Helpline, and Action for Elders offer information and various services to seniors.
- On the same note, look for apps designed specifically for older people such as games, medication reminders, emergency alerts and others.
- Make devices easy to use. Things like increasing font size or turning on accessibility settings can make a phone or computer a lot easier and more comfortable to use.
Make sure you regularly ask your elderly loved one how they are doing when it comes to technology. Ask them which challenges they are facing and any questions they might have.
As technology changes, help them keep up.