New Tricks for Old Dogs: Teaching Computer Skills to Elders

How do I teach computer skills to my elders?

  • Know why they want to learn or at least why they would need computer skills.
  • Appeal to their hobbies and show them how they can practice them with the computer and internet.
  • Address all their apprehensions before teaching them.
  • Use the device, peripherals, and set up that is best for their purposes.

Caregiver services in Chicago are extremely helpful for making sure that our elderlies are being cared for constantly and assisted with daily activities. It’s still essential to make it a point to spend time with your elderly relatives though! One of the most productive ways to spend time with them is teaching them basic computer skills, especially if it’s your parents. After all, they were the ones who taught you all the basics of life such as eating with a spoon, so it’s only fair to teach them how to use new technology as well. This will also come in handy for when you want to communicate with each other more often. Or perhaps they want to learn for other reasons?

Establish the Reasons

There’s so much about computers to learn that it’s nearly impossible to teach them all, or maybe even learn it yourself. Before you jump to the technical side of computers, it is know what exactly they will need a computer for and what has prevented them from learning in the past. This makes it easier to stick to the basics and get straight to the point. This must be done especially for those elders that are not so tech-savvy.

Elders can have a lot of reasons for wanting to learn how to use a computer. They could be curious, looking for a challenge or entertainment, or wanting to relate and communicate with the younger members of the family. Keep these reasons in mind as you teach them certain skills.

As for the reason why they have not learned before, there are also multiple causes. Among these are fear of the unknown, apprehension to learn something new, limited funds, and inability to see the purpose of a computer. These are all legitimate and common concerns in elders when learning the computer and these must be addressed first before beginning the teaching process.

Prepare the Technical Stuff

When you begin the teaching process there are some technical aspects you must consider such as:
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Find one that is cost-effective. Bandwidth and speed are less likely as much a priority to them as it is to you, but again this depends on the type of usage.

Which Device to Use

Not all purposes really require a full computer setup. For example, some elders may just want to use Skype to call loved ones. In this case, a laptop or tablet would be a better device for them especially since they are not so bulky yet are big enough to see clearly in. These can also be used for many kinds of simple yet entertaining games.

Setting Up a Device

It will really help your elders in their learning process if their device is simple to use. Rearranging the desktop of a computer or home screen of a tablet/phone to only show the primary apps and programs that they want to use is useful. You can also set up the browser to immediately open the websites they need once open it.

Using the Right Peripherals

The peripherals of a computer or device is also important to help the user experience of your senior family members. A mouse may not be for everyone; try using a trackball which is useful for those with limited motor skills. There are also keyboards made for learning and you should consider having them use this first.

Cater to their Interest

You can’t teach someone not willing to learn. Before getting started, peak their interest so they are eager to participate. You can start doing this by teaching them based on their favorite hobbies and interests.

Some of the most popular activities for seniors is: studying family history, using the internet to call family and friends, playing online games, and looking up their old houses on google maps. Try teaching them these things first to get them interested in learning how the computer works. If you can do this, then they will end up being motivated enough to teach themselves or at least to be pro-active in the learning process.

In the modern age, technology has become a huge part of maintaining communication. Being able to get the elderly on board is important for maintaining a good relationship with them. Although it could prove to be hard, a stronger bond will be formed from a successful lesson and they will be able to reap the benefits of being computer-savvy.

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