How we can help our (really!) elderly parents adapt to today’s technology.
Breaking tech-talk into byte-sized chunks for the benefit of those even more challenged than us!
26 March, 2020 by
Technology is becoming more important in every industry, not in the least healthcare. It has also become a crucial component of our relationships. Technology allows us to connect with family members, exercise our brains, and stay up to date. Seniors who are not used to new technologies can fall behind in these areas. It is up to their adult children to guide them. 

34 per cent of elderly people say they have no confidence when it comes to online or electronic tasks. 48 per cent say they need assistance in setting up new devices and learning how to use them. Here are some ways you can help your older parents adapt to modern technology. 

1.      Use Informal Language

Seniors might not understand what “WIFI,” “broadband,” or “HDMI” means. Using this type of language when explaining the technology could confuse them or make them feel frustrated and overwhelmed. You can make this a positive learning experience by meeting them where they are at. Ask them what they already know about the technology you are showing them. Then, build on what they already know with easy-to-understand language. 

2.      Slow Down and Be Patient

For younger adults, pulling up Skype on a tablet only takes a second. However, for someone who has never done it before and has not been using a tablet for years, it takes time. When you show them what to do the first few times, go slow. Break it down into easy steps. You may even want to write down steps for them. Then, be patient as they learn. Your positivity and encouragement are so important to this process. 

3.      Build Their Confidence

It is easy for a senior to forget the steps or make a mistake and then give up altogether. This is especially true if you make them feel unintelligent for making those mistakes. The biggest tool in your toolbox as an adult child is encouragement. Emphasize and compliment when they are picking something up quickly or when they learn something new. Tell them how impressed you are with how fast they are learning and that you know they will have it down in no time. 

4.      Play Games

Sometimes, getting used to the physical aspect of technology is hard, especially for seniors who have decreased motor control. Games are a great way to help them get familiar with the device and practice their coordination. The game apps, 2048 and Threes, are tile-swiping games that help with motor control. There are even games that digitize classics like Scrabble, Monopoly, Yahtzee, and Chess. If your parent loves specific games, find them the digital equivalent. 

5.      Make Their Devices Easier to Learn

Did you that there are apps that can make your parent’s smartphone and tablet easier to use? Senior Safety Phone is an Android app that simplifies their home screen with large, clear icons for the tasks they actually do. Simple Social is an app that streamlines all their social media apps and makes them less cluttered and overwhelming to new users.