Guide to Encouraging Our Elders in the Use of Gadgets and Technology

Your grandma’s 75th birthday is fast approaching, and you’ve decided to get her something. Her cupboard is already filled with fine china and clothes are out of the question. Then you decide to gift her something useful – a mobile phone.

Feeling great, you give it to her and wait for the look on her face just to be puzzled by her confusion. She thanks you, but is soon followed by “I don’t know how to use this, can you teach me?” You assure her that you can, but it will prove to be quite the challenge.

If you need some help, here are some suggestions for you.

Focus on the Benefits

There’s a first for everything, and not all of them are pleasant or easy to understand. The same can be said about seniors trying to use modern gadgets. You can start by telling them about the benefits that they can receive.

For example, a mobile phone can be used whenever they have an emergency, and they need to get in touch with their doctor or family members. Technology also helps them with ailments. With old age comes degrading eyesight, and there are assistive technologies for the visually impaired that are available.

You may be met with hesitation when opening up such topics, but when you help them realise how they’ll benefit, they’ll surely come around.

One Step at a Time

Older adults are sometimes ready to answer with “I’m not interested” when it comes to matters related to technology. You don’t see many of them using computers, laptops, or modern smartphones. But if granny needs some help trying to use one, be there to assist her.

Don’t overwhelm her with apps that only you can understand. Start with the basics such as unlocking the phone, turning it on and off, and the call function. Once she gets the hang of it, then you can advance to using other apps or even opening a social media account so she can get in touch with others.

Acknowledge and Praise

Since it’ll be a “testing the waters” moment for them, it’s crucial for you to recognise that light bulb moment when they finally understand what you’ve explained. For them, it’s hitting another milestone even into their retirement years.

It’s like teaching a child how to ride a bike and capturing that priceless moment when they go “eureka”. Use words that acknowledge their achievement to encourage them to keep on learning new things.

Practice What You’ve Taught Them

Now that they’ve seen how to do basic navigation, it’s now time to let them put everything into practice. This helps them get used to all the things that you’ve just shown them and let the “magic” unfold in their fingertips. Most of all, this boosts their confidence in the technology and their use of it.

For example, you can ask them to try and call your number by themselves. Don’t worry if they get it wrong on the first few tries and assure them that they’ll be able to grasp it eventually when they get to do it regularly.

As we age, we tend to miss the “good old days” when technology was limited, but life was certainly better. Nevertheless, technology is a big part of our lives and civilisation. Without it, we can’t move on from striking stones together to induction cookers.

Always be positive and remember that our elders need all the help we can give, even in teaching them how to use today’s gadgets.

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