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MAKING TECHNOLOGY USE EASIER: EXPERT TIPS


Establishing technological literacy can be an obstacle for older adults. But a major reason for this is that technology companies target a younger audience and leave out the older population.


According to Pew Research Center, 25 percent of adults ages 65 and older report never using the internet. This is significantly higher than the younger populations ages 18 through 50, with only 3 percent accounting for non-internet users.


It is not that older adults don’t find technology valuable, rather it is that most of them don’t have the training and skills to use these digital innovations—and companies don’t do much about that.


This lack of technology equity among older adults can exacerbate isolation and loneliness. While many assume older adults are not in need of smart devices or won’t find them valuable, the reality is different; they may need it more. Providing technology literacy gives opportunities to engage with the world through digital news, social media, video conferencing services, and more.


Abbie Richie, CEO of Senior Savvy (seniorsavvy.net), provides one-on-one technical support and training workshops for seniors learning technology—on topic including iPad basics, Zoom ethics, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, smartphone secrets, and iPhone photography.


“They have the technology at hand,” says Richie. “Our job is to empower and give them the confidence to use it.” The following are some of her tips for loved ones and for caregivers on introducing new technology.


BE GRATEFUL. “I still have four parents and one in-law living! The fact is this could change any day. In June of 2020, we lost my AOL-loving father-in-law to cancer. Now, when I support my folks with their tech, I approach their needs with gratitude. This puts me in the right mindset.”


BE AWARE OF TIME: “I tell them, and myself, let’s focus on this for a half-hour, ok? I don’t want to take up all their time with the grandkids, nor do I want to be stuck behind their computer when it’s my day off. If we need more than a half-hour to finish the task, we schedule for me to come back during the week.”


BE PATIENT: “I expect my folks and my clients to need a double dose of patience. A recent Pew Research Center study found that 77 percent of older adults needed assistance in learning how to use new technology. Our modern-day devices were just handed to them, without any explanation or formal introduction. This is contrary to how people learn. React like they’re a teenager who has just started driving. You wouldn’t expect a new driver to immediately understand how to operate a car, would you? That’s why there’s driver’s ed, and why you have to practice before you get your license. The same applies to our folks’ technical learning curve.”


BE VISUAL: “Boomers LOVE visual guidance. Write down the simple one, two, three steps you went through with them, so they can refer to that guidance when you’re not there…For example, if they need assis- tance unsubscribing to an email in their Gmail account, write down simple steps such as:


1. Open your inbox. 2. Click on the email you want to stop receiving.


3. Select the stop sign icon up top to report spam (which also unsubscribes).”


BE PREPARED: “There’s a very strong likelihood that you’ll have to review these concepts with them again. So tuck this fact in your back pocket: They’re going to ask you for help again, and it could very well be on the same topic you helped them with last week. When they ask for your help, repeat the steps.”


SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021 ARGENTUM.ORG 13


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