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Tips for Helping the Elderly with Technology

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

For someone who isn't particularly IT confident, or grew up in a time where IT resources weren't as common or integrated in to day to day life as they are now, using tablets, touch screens and laptops can seem like a very daunting and overwhelming task.

Technology is a really useful resource with lots of scope to improve our quality of life in various ways; such as providing access to prescription requests from the GP or accessing online shopping which can be fantastic to help someone who struggles with their mobility to remain independent at home. However, the web can seem scary and inaccessible especially with news circulating about the increase of scams and hacking attempts in recent years.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can support an elderly friend, relative or loved one to become more confident online to help them get the best out of these resources. To help, we have 5 handy tips to help you get started.

1 - Emphasise Internet Safety

Even though the internet can be a brilliant resource it's important to be aware of scams, harmful websites and viruses and how to recognise them to help stay safe online and keep your device working at it's best. Talk to your loved one about the importance of running virus scans (you could even set a scan to run monthly for them so that it does so automatically).

Talk to your loved one about how to stay safe around scams, recognising potentially suspicious emails, and the importance of never giving personal details away over email or phone or to click on suspicious hyperlinks. Remind them that if they are ever unsure to always check first, and if they think they may have accidentally given information to a scammer to be open and honest so you can support them.

2 - Stay Calm and be Patient when explaining

It can be really frustrating feeling like you're on repeat when you're showing someone how to send an email, or access a video for the first time. Patience is absolutely key. Everyone learns at a different pace and this is the same no matter what age or ability you are.

It may be helpful to write notes down for your loved one to help them later on if they find they struggle with a specific step in a task. Either way remaining calm will make your loved one much more receptive to trying again if they struggle on the first few tries which will help boost their confidence later on.

3 - Write Out Clear and Manageable Step Beforehand

Planning ahead can really help whilst supporting someone to learn new IT skills. Set a clear and attainable goal for each session so you can both leave feeling a positive sense of achievement which will help to encourage your loved one to approach the following session with the same level of enthusiasm next time. Write clear and simple steps that your loved one can look back one and refer to afterwards. You could event put these into a folder to make an ongoing handy 'how to' booklet so that your loved one can practice while you're not there.

4 - Take it Slow

Slow progress is better than no progress. Make sure you set small goals that are easy to attain to help encourage a sense of achievement at the end of each session. Then build on that each time. Keep your sessions encouraging and always end them on a positive note to encourage enthusiasm and perseverance through learning.

5 - Start by Using Basic Games to Increase Confidence

Many people learn really well when things are fun and engaging, and simple games can be a brilliant tool to help aid this. Many computers are installed with some basic games such as chess, solitaire and minesweeper. These games can be a really good starting tool to help your loved one get used to clicking and selecting features, using simple navigational systems and menus.

You can also download simple games on most phones and tablets for free through the systems store app.

Remember: Supporting your loved one should be a fun and engaging activity. If you find either person is starting to feel frustrated or unhappy, don't be afraid to call it a day and try again another time when things are feeling more settled.

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