Four Ways to Help Your Elderly Loved Ones Learn Computer Skills

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As we enter a new decade, it can be amazing to look back and realize how far we’ve come in terms of technology. Recent innovations can be taken for granted as with each new year, the population demographics keep on shifting toward youth and entire generations grow up accustomed to technology. It’s easy to forget that seniors may also want or need to use computers, and the challenge they face in doing so.

Here in Utah, for instance, we have local initiatives for the youth to help seniors become more computer-literate. If you’d like to perform a similar service for a loved one, whether it’s your parents, grandparents, elderly neighbors or family friends, here are some essential practices to guide you.

Demonstrate the benefits

Many elderly people grew up without computers playing an essential role in everyday life. The benefits of computers that younger generations find invaluable or take for granted could be completely overlooked by your loved ones.

Align your approach with their interests. If they prefer doing their budget in a pen-and-paper organizer, don’t force them to use Excel – you can demonstrate instead how live streaming lets them stay in touch with their grandkids in ways that hadn’t been possible until recent years. Some may find games greatly entertaining, which can have the medical benefit of stimulating the mind and keeping them sharp as they age.

Start with basic skills

The learning curve in any new activity can be intimidating. Age doesn’t always make a difference, either; your grandfather may be able to repair his car and make benches for the kids, but he could be afraid to mess up on a browser.

Make things easier for your elders by reducing the difficulty and narrowing things down to basic skills and simple tasks. Teach them a couple of things at a time, and repeat the patterns – as they get more confident, their pace of learning will pick up.

Customize the setup

Most operating systems have increased accessibility features, but tend to come out of the box without any of these enabled. From a younger generation’s perspective, it can sometimes be easy to overlook things which make the experience harder for the elderly.

Do you know how to enable text-to-speech on a computer? How about increasing icon size or display contrast? Low-vision users will definitely appreciate these tweaks. Don’t forget to show them how to enable closed captions on video if they are hearing impaired. Many other settings can be adjusted, and sometimes additional features can be downloaded, to improve ease-of-use for your loved one.

Security and maintenance

As you help your elderly relatives navigate computers with increased proficiency, you’ll also have to deal with the dangers of online activity. Many internet scams, for instance, are designed to target the senior demographic due to common factors such as low computer skill level or being too trusting.

See to it that adequate cybersecurity measures are set up, and bookmark self-help resources so they can continue to educate themselves on internet safety. Refer them to a reliable computer repair store in Salt Lake City for quick assistance in the event of a hardware malfunction or possible virus.

Increased communication, mental stimulation, and a greater participation in the online community are all among the benefits awaiting seniors who can learn computer skills in the modern age. Help make the endeavor a success with these best practices.

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