A Tale of Two Grandmas:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This is not a tale of two cities however, it is a tale of two grandmothers. I am sure that any other millennials out there reading this blog can relate, that in addition to any professional achievements in your career, you moonlight as a tech whiz for your grandparents. My grandmothers couldn’t be more different when it comes to technology – one grandmother niftily navigating scheduling her student’s piano lessons on her iPhone after just one training session, while the other still thanking me for sending her photos each time I upload a post to facebook.
Technology, for all of its drawbacks, opens a world of possibilities and opportunity. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, though still yearning for human connection, we were able to carbon copy our lives online, buying groceries, going to school and university, and dating all from the comfort of our own homes. For older adults that are often limited by mobility and health conditions, technology can be a real game changer. There’s only one problem – in order to harness the power of technology and to reap its benefits, you need to know how to use it. While it is a common misconception that older adults cannot master technology, 73% of adults 65 and older use the internet. Following these simple tips can help empower older adults to use technology to its full potential, and up their independence and wellbeing.
Slow is smooth, smooth is fast
When setting out to teach an older adult to use technology, taking it slow is important. This will ensure that you are not overwhelming them with information, and that you remain patient and do not grow frustrated. Try to remember that while something may seem like second nature to you, that this may not be what the older adult is experiencing, and taking it slow is key.
If you know the why, you can live any how
Connecting the older adult to the why of what they are trying to master can be the difference between a wall of resistance, and smooth sailing.
Privacy, privacy, privacy
Today’s seniors grew up in a world devoid of stories, tiktoks and even Facebook (if you can believe it). They are not used to sharing intimate moments with 3,741 of their closest friends, and geotagging their location so that anyone can follow along. Privacy is a major concern for older adults, and putting information out there on the internet may feel disconcerting. It is therefore important to explain the various platforms that the older adult wants to master from a privacy standpoint, and even research the various risks associated with these platforms in advance. This allows the older adult to make an informed decision, and to feel comfortable with the platforms they will be using.
Practice makes perfect
While you may be tempted to just go ahead and send that picture for the older adult, allowing them to practice while you guide them will set them up for success when performing the task alone.
Seniors have navigated the hills and valleys of life and everything that has been thrown at them. They are more than capable of mastering technology, and are often hesitant but willing to do so. By approaching the task of teaching older adults to use technology with the right mindset and empathy, you can open up a new world for older adults, and enable them to access the tools that allow them to remain at home independently, in safety and comfort. And me, I’ll be right back. My grandma just called to ask how to order buckwheat from Amazon.