Computer use is a fact of life in today’s world. But for someone who grew up in an analog world, the switch to digital can be disorienting. You can help make your senior loved ones’ time on the computer a much more enjoyable – and less frustrating – experience.
- Keep their computers updated. Make sure their operating system and virus protection programs have been updated recently. Many seniors either delay or altogether disable updates, but these are essential security measures.
- Password security. Set up a spreadsheet or text file where they can record all passwords and login credentials. Even better: get them a password manager program (like 1Password) to handle their passwords for them
- Make computer use comfortable. Sometimes, the greatest difficulties when using a computer are physical. Mice can be tough to use when your hands are arthritic. Keyboards aren’t always readable by those with visual impairments. Even sitting at a computer for long periods can be painful. But, devices like vertical mice, large type & high-contrast keyboards and ergonomic chairs can make using the computer less of a physical chore.
- Make flashcards for common commands or chores. Those of us who grew up with computers take for granted how difficult they can be for anyone else. Sit down one day while doing your basic computer tasks – web browsing, bills, email – and think about how many basic commands you may use in those tasks. Even simple things like right-clicking, copy-pasting, or holding shift to highlight text may be entirely unknown to your senior loved ones. Taking a few minutes to write down and explain some of the basic commands can make their computer time much less frustrating.
When helping your loved one with their computer, remember to be patient. This is often a new and daunting activity for seniors, and many technically proficient people tend to be a bit too brusque when trying to teach others about tech. Teach, don’t lecture.