“Mom, you have to start now. It will be easier now than when you’re 70,” her son told her.
Then he continued with the jaw dropping clincher, “You had better learn to use a computer now, while you can, before you get old and using a computer is the only thing you have left that you CAN do.”
I would never have had the guts to say that. But he’s right. It’s easier to learn now than it is to learn later.
Computer technology and social media offer outlets never before available to those who face physical challenges. They have an opportunity to connect with the outside world, whether it’s beautiful outside or there’s an ice storm. New tech changes will make it that much easier for older people to stay independent and involved.
Skype is a growing trend among seniors who want to stay connected with family members in other areas. Some families have dinner together via Skype.
How do you help an older family member or friend be more independent on the computer? When I’ve worked with senior citizens, the following helped.
- Go slow. Repeat often. Write down steps and have them follow the steps with you.
- Have them click the mouse. If you take over the mouse, they will never learn to click.
- Begin with solitaire. This teaches them to drag and drop, click, and double-click. Explain what click, double click, and right click are used for.
- If double-clicking is a challenge with a traditional mouse and they want to use a mouse, teach them to hold the mouse still and think “tap tap” instead of “double click.” The words “double click” have fricative sounds, and people jiggle their hands more with those sounds than when they think “tap tap.”
- Spend time teaching them to minimize, maximize, and close windows.
- Make sure they understand how to cut, copy, and paste.
- Help them save photos to a place where they can find them later.
- Be sure their system is backed up.
- Repeat the same topic several times if needed.
- Make sure they have shortcuts to get to the programs they use most often – most likely email and maybe social media.
If you’re a senior, what poses the biggest computer challenge to you? If you’ve helped senior family members, what tips can you share to help others?