How to Teach Your Elderly Parents About Online Tools

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October 13, 2021
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By 2030, 1 in every 5 people living in the US will be 65 years or older. Using your smartphone or laptop is the daily norm for working adults and students everywhere. We may forget that our parents or grandparents grew up in a different time than us and do not know how to access the online world.

It may seem obvious that older adults do not use technology that much or are not inclined to try it. Like any new skill, try to understand how difficult it is to master it and understand that it may take time. 

Why should seniors learn to use technology?

Using technology can help your elderly parents connect with the community and build stronger networks. It can be a useful tool for the elderly living alone to access media and connect from home.

For older adults with limited mobility, they can use online video chat tools or browse the web to experience precious moments with their families and friends. Online tools and technology are instrumental in connecting with others, whether near or far. 

8 Tips to Teach Your Elderly Parents How to Use Technology

Below are tips for teaching older adults technology and technology for seniors made easy so that they can age in place. 

1. Connect abstract concepts to any existing knowledge 

Abstract concepts and new ideas can be hard for older adults to learn. For example, web addresses may be a difficult concept to grasp. Seniors are more likely to understand them when they are compared to a tangible thing, such as street addresses. 

  • Online banking may be a large topic to cover
  • Your parents may not feel comfortable with the idea of letting strangers online have their private banking information

This is a legitimate concern. Ease them into the process by showing them step-by-step how you use online banking in your daily life. 

2. Show your parents the value of technology

Seniors are reluctant to use technology if they see that it adds no value to their lives. After all, they have already lived so long without depending on it. There are so many things available on the web for them to explore!

  • Online shopping 
  • Grocery delivery
  • Keeping up with email correspondence
  • Photo galleries for memories
  • Downloadable movies to watch anywhere
  • Fun games on smartphone apps 

3. Determine which devices are right for your parents

Tablets, smartphones, desktop computers, and laptops are all online devices that the elderly can use. If your parents prefer to stay at home, update them on computer skills at home. If they are constantly on vacation or are fond of travelling, teach your parents about smartphones and tablets. 

4. Use a touch interface instead of a mouse

Because of the accuracy required with mouses, they can be difficult for aging adults with decreased motor skills. Allowing them to use their fingers to select something can be much more effective. 

5. Integrate tech-related terms and online language slowly

Expressive tools such as short-forms, emoticons or emojis may not make sense to your elderly parents. Explain why people use them and what they are used for. If they are interested, you can dive into how to use them and the situations you would use them for. 

6. Think of alternatives if your parents have trouble with their eyesight

As we age, our vision decreases. Fonts on iPhones and smartphones are too small to see. For example, seniors often choose 36 size font on Kindles when reading on their own. The average font size on an iPhone is 12 point font.

  • You can download a screen reading software on their laptops, tablets, or desktop computers
  • The screen reader will read out loud what is on the screen, allowing seniors with severe visual impairment to use a computer
  •  Turn subtitles on if your parents are hard of hearing or are constantly asking questions about a video
  • This is an aid and is included in most movies online. 

7. Discuss the importance of internet safety

This includes creating strong passwords, recognizing dangerous sites, pop-ups, and scam emails. Teach your parents never to give away personal or banking information online. Teach them where to download from, what to download, and how it works. Talk about online banking and if your parents feel comfortable using it. 

8. Be patient and teach at a comfortable pace for your parents

Acquiring a new skill at an old age is very difficult and will take time to master.  Patience is key when you are teaching a person of any age a new skill. Do not expect immediate results, but be prepared for some frustration on your end and on their end. 

Benefits of Teaching Technology to Seniors

  • Teaching your elderly parents about technology and online tools can be extremely helpful if they are living alone
  • They can connect with society and their loved ones on an online platform
  • You will have more peace of mind when your parents are aging in place if they know how to use and talk to you online

However, it can also be frustrating to teach seniors about technology and computer skills. If you do not have the time or resources, you can always hire a teacher on screened caregiver apps like Caremada to take your place. Our world is evolving to become increasingly online. Take advantage of these tips for teaching older adults how to use technology. 

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