Teaching seniors how to use technology often seems like an uphill battle. You might even eventually give up without really accomplishing anything other than getting into a fight with them. However, the right approach will let you accomplish this task much more easily! Here are six tips for teaching seniors how to use technology that will help you immensely.
The first thing you need to remember about teaching seniors how to use technology is that it will take time. They cannot master things as quickly or readily as they used to. Not to mention the many questions they will likely have every step of the way. A good example is needing to provide simple advice for seniors concerned about internet safety. They will have heard lots of concerning things about the internet. And they will require you to reassure them and show them how to avoid getting scammed or hacked on top of teaching them how to use the tech. This will naturally make for very slow going, and you will likely feel frustrated at times that they ‘won’t’ cooperate with you. In truth, they honestly can’t move at a rapid pace, and trying to force them into it will just backfire on you.
Repetition is key
When teaching seniors how to use technology, you will also find that you’ll need to backtrack often. They often forget what you had taught them before. Even if you’d seen them successfully use it at the end of one of your ‘lessons’. This is why you need to get them to repeat previously learned steps occasionally to ensure they do not forget things you’ve already covered. Of course, it can still happen that they will forget something, even with your insistence on repetition in play. But you can at least ensure that this will happen very rarely. And even if it does, bits and pieces will still stick in their memory, which makes relearning everything easier.
Help them through their frustration
The seniors you teach will definitely experience a lot of frustration, too. In their minds, they still remember the days when they learned easily. Days when they had their own successful careers and were in charge of helping others. The fact that they now need so much help and support to achieve basic tech competency grates on them. Besides, if it makes you upset that they’d forgotten the things they’d learned last week, what do you think it makes them feel like? So, you need to try and get ahead of this problem. Try and reassure them that they are doing well and that you are not really upset with them. Otherwise, they might get hurt and upset enough to refuse to continue learning. This would effectively ruin all your previous effort. By the time they get over it, you’d need to start practically from scratch.
Do not work with them for too long
Seniors, just like children in a way, do not have an infinite attention span. Quite past that, they also get tired more easily. As such, their attention drifts due to this. They will start learning slower and will absolutely forget the majority of the lesson once it’s over and they’ve gone to nap. So, to teach them and properly take care of the seniors in your family, be patient.
Take frequent breaks. Space out your lessons. Do not let them get stuck in the mentality of having to master everything at once. You can separate your lessons into steps and slowly impart them. The structured way of learning will let them remember things more manageable. Do not be surprised if they ask to take many notes, either. In fact, encourage it and help them make the notes better and more concise.
Focus on what they need
Of course, don’t try to be too ambitious when teaching seniors how to use technology. Trying to teach them how to use complicated sites or platforms they have no use for will be difficult and pointless. As an example, for you during a move, moving apps and how to use them to help you stay on track would be easy to master and of great help. For a senior, just learning how to use them would be more trouble than it’s worth. Focus, instead, on things they can use to contact family and grandchildren, such as messaging programs, social media platforms, and similar. Or even introduce them to YouTube and engaging channels and videos. They will have a much higher personal stake in the learning process and actually do their best to master everything.
Encourage them to practice
Our final advice for teaching seniors how to use technology is to encourage them to practice independently. This is where our previous advice will come in handy. After all, if they want to use what you’ve taught them, they will ‘practice’ it whether you ask them to or not. This will also contribute to the repetition tip we laid out previously and synergize amazingly with your efforts. It will also be beneficial to the senior in question. Getting in touch with their loved ones more often, or even introducing them to how older adults can socialize online, will make them happier and more positive. This should not be disregarded as unimportant since the mental state in older age seriously impacts physical health. Happier seniors tend to live longer and healthier lives than those who feel lonely or depressed.
By following our six tips for teaching seniors how to use technology, you will be able to help them learn and overcome their limitations. The only thing that you’ll need is patience. Just remember their love for you and why you are teaching them in the first place!
Author: Lindsay Denton