Betty White. Leslie Jordan. Oprah Winfrey. Arnold Schwarzenegger. George Takei. Baddiewinkle. What do all these wonderful people have in common? They are all seniors and they have millions of followers of all generations on social media. A good percentage of their followers are under the age of 40.
There is a misconception that seniors are averse to technology. Nothing could be further from the truth! Many seniors are embracing the internet, smartphones, and other devices with ferocity. Their kids and grandkids are all over social media. More and more businesses that everyone uses, including many services that are intended for seniors, are only available online. They want to feel relevant; they don’t want to get left behind. But technology can feel overwhelming for some. Helping seniors learn to understand technology can be a great bonding opportunity. We have some tips for how to teach seniors technology and get them connected.
Tip #1: Teach seniors the language of technology
It is so important to be patient in our approach for how to teach seniors technology. There are words that we throw around when we’re talking about our wifi being down, or a new app that makes our faces look like cartoons, or a critical software update that our iPhones need to protect them against a very dangerous spyware flaw. We know the difference between hardware, software, and an app. What a hotspot is, or a firewall, or how to navigate our devices to change our system preferences.
This can all seem completely overwhelming to a senior, who’s memory or cognitive abilities may not be quite what they used to be. Use the words sparingly at first, while you’re walking them through their smartphone, and encourage them to ask questions. Make it fun and connect the words to the actions. If teaching the senior in your life about technology is proving frustrating for you, there are a number of classes for seniors online that can take the anxiety out of it for both of you. Remember, when they are curious, they are engaged. Don’t do too much at once, either! You want them to remember it!
Tip #2: Research devices for seniors and show them they work
There are a number of great resources available to find seniors technology trends. They may need a smartphone with a bigger screen, or simply to be shown how to select a font and size that makes the words and numbers big enough for them to read easily. Maybe they received a health check-up and their doctor is recommending physical or memory exercises. Introduce them to wearable tech for seniors, to track their exercise and heart rate. From helping them learn how to set up a phone or tablet screen with the colors they like, to software features that they will value, like how to create a Word Doc to write a letter. Remember, taking it slow will help seniors to feel supported, inspire their curiosity, and encourage them to explore their phones, tablets, or computers.
Tip #3: Demystify the internet
Once you’ve gotten the senior in your life to a point of reasonable comfort with some of the language we use when we’re talking about technology, and introduced them to their gadgets, now it’s time to take a drive on the World Wide Web! This is where you and your kids can have a lot of fun showing them the content that is out there just for them. Whether it’s memory games for seniors online, chair yoga for seniors online, or seniors online dating sites, you get to help them widen their world and ease the isolation they feel as they age. Help them learn how to use a search engine by picking their brains. Do they enjoy cooking? Help expand your seniors’ recipes list with dishes they always wanted to try. Is your mom or dad showing signs of struggle with memory? Enlist your kids to help them find and play memory games for seniors online with them, or make videos together to post on YouTube or TikTok. Leslie Jordan shouldn’t get to have all the fun!
Tip #4: Teach seniors the dangers of the internet
Sadly, there are too many scams and viruses out on the internet, that any one of us might fall prey to. For a senior who’s thought skills have slowed down, they might not be savvy enough to pick up on the cues we are familiar with, that an email, text, online offer or phone call can sometimes have ulterior motives. Take some time to teach your senior loved ones about the telltale signs of a scam, and what to do when they encounter one.
- Don’t click on a link sent to you by email.
- Don’t ever give anyone your private security information.
- Don’t ever send someone you don’t know money.
- Don’t give anyone your passwords/use secure passwords.
- Use secure or verified websites.
- If you meet someone online and want to meet them in person, choose a neutral, public location.
Tip #5: Show seniors the benefits of being connected
Mom and dad are going to get frustrated with all the new words and bad people to look out for when they’re on the internet. So, you and the grandkids have to keep reminding them of how easy it is to stay connected. Point out the benefits, such as sharing pictures from family gatherings or old pictures from when you were a kid, talking on video chats and even watching a movie together, or playing an online game together. Researchers are studying the benefits for our beloved seniors to staying connected with their favorite people and the evidence is overwhelming that it helps them stay present and engaged. Technology is just one more tool to accomplish that.
Technology Programs In Place Today
In the Cadence Connections program we offer nationally, we have a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) continued learning Signature Program in which the area of study changes every month. Among other things, residents talk about the types of technology in this program that can help to improve their daily lives. Our current month’s program is focusing on Augmented and Virtual Reality and residents will go to an arcade with virtual reality games to fully immerse them in this new technology.
Another popular program in several of our communities is a Tech Class called Wireless Wednesdays. In a recent class, residents brought their tablets, laptops and smartphones and we helped them navigate with step-by-step directions to make these tools easier for them to use. Our communities are always engaging with our residents on a one-to-one basis too when they have questions about their smart devices or in-room technology. Our location in Woodbridge has recently partnered with the Chinn Park Regional Library through the Prince William Public Library System to talk about technology with our residents. We are excited to welcome a librarian and a technology trainer to come in and work with our residents on a wide variety of technology topics.
It is a good time to come and visit one of the Cadence Living communities, to see what we have to offer that can support the care of aging parents–for you and for them. We have accommodations for independent living, assisted living and memory care. We also offer activities that meet your physical and social wellness needs, as well as spaces and programs designed specifically for memory care needs. Give us a call to schedule a tour today!