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4 Tips to Help Loved Ones Use Computers and Smartphones


An older adult confidently using the computer

For much of the world, computers and smartphones are a necessity in everyday life. But for our older loved ones, these devices can provoke anxiety, hostility and resistance. To some older adults, learning how to use a computer or smartphone can seem like a very daunting task, but there are benefits to embracing technology and using devices. Here are some helpful tips to get them started:

1.    We can start by sharing the benefits of using technology to our loved ones that will resonate the most with them. E-mail and text messaging can be great ways to communicate with the people they care about, especially if they live far away. Skype and other video messaging services provide an easy, inexpensive way for our loved ones to see the people they love face-to-face. Facebook and other social media platforms can help them stay connected to family and community...and see photos of the grandkids!

2.    If our loved ones have trouble getting around, we can encourage them to try online shopping. Online shopping alleviates the need for them to go through the hassle of getting out to the store. Our loved ones can purchase anything from groceries to clothes online. However, we should make sure that our loved ones know how to spot a scam and do not give their credit card information to any illegal or suspicious websites. 

3.    Buying a user-friendly computer or smartphone designed with the needs of older adults in mind may be the best option for some loved ones. Touch screen computers and phones are often easier for older adults to navigate. We may want to consider getting a keyboard with extra-large keys and a lightweight mouse with multiple buttons and a scroll wheel. A tablet may also be a helpful option for our loved ones. They are light-weight and may be easier for our loved ones to carry than a laptop. 

4.    If we don't feel equipped to teach our loved ones to use a computer or smartphone, other relatives or family friends may be a helpful resource. They can help us show our loved ones all the basics of computer use, while providing our loved one the opportunity to socialize with someone they care about. Many local senior centers and public libraries also offer computer classes for older people, which may also be a helpful resource to consider.

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.

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