Making it Easier for Older Adults to Adapt to New Technology

Adapting to new technology can often prove difficult. Virtually every device we use on an everyday basis has its own subtleties, and the methods used to perform any number of tasks tend to work differently on various operating systems.

Indeed, users can experience a steep learning curve when first using new devices. Still, America’s baby boomers have historically been late adopters to the world of technology compared to younger generations. And as we advance in age, the more difficult it can become to adjust to these changes — and many baby boomers and seniors simply don’t bother. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s a helpful guide to help older adults adapt to new technology.

Staying Connected at All Times

According to AARP, fewer than 35 percent of seniors age 75 and older own a personal computer. Experts say that’s a major missed opportunity in the way of connecting with loved ones and keeping one’s mind sharp. In fact, considering the many benefits of social networking and the ability to boost cognitive functions through various apps, the world is definitely their oyster should they choose to invest in a smartphone, tablet, and/or computer.

In addition to keeping older adults entertained, informed and occupied, owning a smartphone also means ensuring family and friends can contact them at a moment’s notice and from virtually anywhere. And whether they lead an active lifestyle or enjoy a more solitary way of living, staying connected can also keep them safe in case of a fall or medical emergency.
In particular, the Jitterbug, a cell phone tailored specifically for seniors, features voice dialing, medication reminders, a 24-hour live nurse service and more, making it an invaluable tool for seniors to stay safe and connected.

Understanding Apprehension and Fear

Like anything new, keep in mind some older adults and seniors may be apprehensive or fear using an iPad or iPhone over concerns of “breaking this wretched device.” In fact, you might hear familiar refrains like, “What if I do something wrong?” or, “I think I broke the darn thing,” which may stop them from wanting to learn more about how these devices can benefit them.

But if that’s the case, then it’s best to nip it in the bud early on. With that in mind, take the time to address their concerns head-on and reiterate, time and again, that breaking modern devices like a smartphone, tablet or laptop is actually pretty difficult. In fact, remind them that, more often than not, their fear of a major snafu is actually a quick fix.

Tailoring the Experience

When teaching an older adult about new technology, it can be tempting to start off by showing them how to use the apps you use most or the ones you think they would likely benefit. Resist the urge. Instead, figure out how that person learns best and start there. For most people, starting with a game is a worthwhile strategy, while others may take to learning how to send an email. Do whatever works best for the older adult in your life.

Remembering the Next Steps

You’re never too old to learn something new. Still, helping an older adult adapt to new technology isn’t a one-time activity; in fact, your tutorials are bound to span several hours or days with them to better acclimate to this new experience. However, don’t get frustrated or overwhelm them with countless tutorials, as it often takes the brain some time and repetition to remember key steps.

Additionally, you should make sure your pupil learns and knows where to turn for the answers to their burning tech-related questions when you’re not around. Truthfully, many older adults may feel embarrassed or simply don’t want to be a bother to their children and grandchildren regarding the use of smartphones and tablets. But if they can easily find the answers on their own, then they’re bound to feel more comfortable and empowered using this technology.

Getting the Right Device

Finally, get the right device. For example, the Apple iPhone X is designed to be intuitive, and therefore many settings and features are intended for this audience in mind. In fact, Apple’s latest smartphone has a host of features that older adults may find helpful, including TrueTone technology, which makes any displayed colors appear brighter to make reading easier.

Additionally, the iPhone X uses facial recognition — not fingerprint authentication — to unlock it. While fingerprint technology provides numerous safeguards, it can prove difficult for older adults and seniors whose thumbs or fingers are frail. Moreover, simply lifting the smartphone to eye level in order to unlock it is much easier. But wait, there’s more. The iPhone X also employs wireless charging, so the older adult in your life won’t need to fiddle with or locate a charging cable.

Knowing how to use new technology is a skill set that may prove difficult for older generations. Like anything new, it can take time to feel acclimated and comfortable using a newfangled smart device. But today’s smartphones, tablets and laptops are designed to be intuitive and easy to use for people of all ages. Ultimately, with a little patience and practice, older tech neophytes can learn to use these devices and, as a result, enhance their everyday life.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.