One of the many amenities we provide at the assisted living community of Bethesda Gardens in Frisco is designed to help our residents keep connected with friends, loved ones and the fast-evolving world of the internet. The free Wi-Fi internet our community supports is, however, difficult to enjoy fully if you're not comfortable with computers or smartphones. Even where income constraints, visual impairment or other physical conditions don't make the use of technology more difficult for them, more than a few seniors still struggle with feeling a little lost in the hyper-technological 21st century.
Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can close that gap and join the ranks of tech-savvy seniors, even if you've never previously been a computer whiz.
Basic literacy in the use of digital technology brings several direct benefits that can improve your overall quality of life.
Keeping abreast of the internet can have surprisingly positive effects on health and well-being. As an AARP report notes, it's helpful with:
- Using new kinds of services and benefits and navigating existing benefits and programs more easily
- Ease of access to powerful apps that provide money-making, volunteering and social connection opportunities
- Videoconferencing and real-time document sharing that can help you feel more connected to friends and loved ones
- Improvements in preventative health and health preservation, from apps and games that promote exercise and cognitive health to closer connections with health professionals
In the age of COVID-19 especially, it's useful to be able to access a range of delivery services for basic shopping tasks. The internet puts those kinds of services in easy reach.
Now that we've recognized some benefits of tech literacy, here are three key things to keep in mind on how to get them.
Tip #1: Let go of fear and cultivate an open attitude.
One of the primary factors that holds people back from getting tech-savvy is fear: fear of looking foolish, fear of breaking something if you hit the wrong button, fear of failing to learn. Conquering your fear is one of the most crucial steps in taking on a new field of knowledge.
The key components to this step are:
- Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Most people can remember when they weren't tech-savvy themselves. They're not going to judge you, especially if they're people of a younger generation — for whom tech literacy comes much more naturally — since these people are likely to be running any classes or training courses you take part in.
- Don't push yourself too hard. Everything won't come in the first moment or the first day. Give yourself time to learn and adapt, and don't judge yourself for failures or missteps. Those are the primary engines of learning.
Get familiar with the various devices prominent on the market and what they're best used for. Though this can seem like a dizzying task, they can be boiled down to some simple essentials.
- Desktop Computers are the original, iconic personal computer. They’re comprised of a monitor (the screen), the actual computer (usually tucked underneath the desk), a keyboard and a mouse (for control) and various other accessories as needed. They can be used to store photos and videos, manage your finances and write documents, send emails, play games, and use the internet to contact people and catch up on the news.
- Laptop Computers are just like desktop units but with everything built into a single package that you can fold up and carry with you. They tend on average to be a bit less powerful, dollar-for-dollar, than their desktop counterparts.
- Mobile Devices include both tablets and smartphones. They have touch-screen interfaces instead of keyboards and can be used for nearly anything a normal computer can be used for. They’re commonly used for surfing the Internet, staying in touch with friends and family, saving photos and videos, using new apps (meaning applications) and keeping up with the news.
If you're mostly going to use a mobile device to manage your connection to the internet, it's best to start your learning process on one of them. If you're more inclined to typing up documents and tracking finances with technology, starting out on a desktop or laptop unit would be easiest.
Although some seniors might lag behind the general population in tech adoption, it's highly likely you know someone in your assisted living community who knows the basics of how to manage battery power, turn on the machine and use search engines like Google. Don't be afraid to seek those people out and get them to teach you those basics.
Once you have those under your belt, you can start seeking out online courses to learn more about how to get the most out of your tech:
Or contact nearby community centers and see if they offer computer training classes. Especially once the era of social distancing ends, they'll be able to help you benefit from being tech-savvy in your assisted living community.
Posted on Tue, June 16, 2020
by Shawn Deane