Community & Current Events

Top 5 tech tips for seniors

Bertha Kronenberg <br /> Photo courtesy of Revera Image by: Bertha Kronenberg <br /> Photo courtesy of Revera Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

Top 5 tech tips for seniors

From the music we listen to on our MP3 players to the recipes and pictures we share on Facebook, technology has become a huge part of our daily lives. It surrounds us and influences the way we communicate, share information and do everyday tasks. While the online world is typically considered the domain of the young, that stereotype is swiftly changing as older generations become more aware of the benefits that modern technology can provide.

How technology helps connect elderly family members to the world
At 88, Bertha Kronenberg (seen in image at left) is a self-taught computer whiz and is a part of the growing number of seniors taking to technology for entertainment and social purposes. She uses her computer to keep in touch with her family and friends scattered across the world.

"It's as though my computer is joining hands with me in exploring the world," Bertha says. "It takes me across the globe to South Africa to connect with my sons and lets me see pictures of my grandchildren. I can be with them as they change and grow, even though they live so far away."

Using the computer as a learning instrument
For Bertha, a computer is an invaluable resource because of the knowledge it provides and because it allows her to further her education on a broad range of topics. She says it's not something seniors should be afraid of or dismiss as useless.

"I think some older people get the idea that this is an instrument that will keep you for hours playing games and wasting time," Bertha says. "You've got to use it for the specific things you enjoy. But don't overdo your time on it."

Stay connected to family and friends
Technology has the potential to play a key role in helping seniors stay independent and socially active. It gives them the tools to remain connected with family and friends, keep in touch with the larger world through news and even take part in enjoyable physical activity through the use of gaming systems such as Nintendo's Wii.

Page 1 of 2 -- Is your elderly friend or family member skeptical about using technology? Discover simple tech tips to get them interested on page 2.How to get an elderly friend or family member online
Your loved one may be skeptical about the use of technology or may need some guidance. It's important to remember to be patient with them, says Trish Barbato, senior vice president of home health and business development at Revera Inc.

Don't be afraid to show your loved one how to use these tools in ways that are valuable to them and that can benefit them in their everyday lives.

Seniors may find the task of learning to use technology daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Dr. Ronald Baecker, founder of and lead researcher at the University of Toronto's Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab, shares the lab’s top five tips on technology use for seniors.

1. Ask them if they'd like to learn about technology
Seniors may be interested in learning to use technology but reluctant to ask for help because they don't want to be a burden. Encourage them to ask questions often and to learn by your example. 

2. Integrate technology into their everyday routine
Seniors may develop more of an interest in technology if it relates to their lives. Introduce your loved one to different apps and programs that can connect them to family and friends, give them access to health information, help them engage with people who have similar life challenges and provide them with mental stimulation and entertainment.

3. Show, don't tell
Visual learning is perhaps the easiest way to pick up a new skill. Help seniors get comfortable with technology by taking the time to sit down with them and show them how it all works. Allowing tech-savvy grandchildren to play a role in the teaching process creates a great learning environment as well as family bonding time.

4. Balance online and offline activities
Technology is a great tool, but it shouldn't be a replacement for the hobbies and activities people love to do offline. Encourage the seniors in your life to split their time healthily between online activities, outdoor recreation and face-to-face socializing.

5. Choose wisely when purchasing tech gadgets
Just as you wouldn't wear heels on a hiking expedition, don't buy technology that doesn't fit a loved one's needs. Do your research and choose your tools carefully. Consider factors such as user-friendliness and technical support availability rather than basing your purchase solely on price or your personal preference.

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