Helping Your Folks with Technology: Yes, It’s Doable

by Dhiram Shah

Traveling back home during the holidays usually amounts to two things: talk about what’s going on, and helping your parents fix their computers and phones. 4 in 10 of those 65 and older now own a smartphone which will make these visits all-the-more enjoyable.

It’s good that technology adoption is up with seniors.

Technology is allowing them to experience their golden years with greater communication and access to vital everyday resources. Soon we could imagine retirement facilities and parks brimming with tech-literate seniors keeping up with the latest trends. And it goes the same for our parents wishing to stay in their homes during those retirement years!

Our Folks are Onboard with Tech
Smartphones have created an adoption entry-point for lifestyle-improving tech, too.

The adoption of smartphones is quite surprising. We have the smart individuals behind user interface design and usability to thank for that. Apps and general adoption of Web and real-world technologies have taken a page from smartphone design – making it easier-than-ever to integrate.

1) Online banking has become the norm; our parents are using the services for automatic bill pay, investment, and money transfers.

2) Stair lifts are commonplace in multi-story homes; their updated design and features are rebranding what was often seen as a mobility unit only for the wheelchair bound.

3) GPS, smart braking systems, and back-up cameras are being used in their vehicles; giving them better guidance and safety in an increasingly hostile roadway environment.

They’re also getting smart about common scams and phishing attacks given that older individuals are phishers’ typical target. This includes a better awareness against identity theft and credit card scams.

How We Can Improve the Adoption
Patience is the key factor when helping our parents understand technology. It’s quite easy to dismiss their usage since we’ve become so accustomed. It’s the same for our stress when they begin deviating from what we’ve told them – or having to completely fix the unit from their mistakes.

Pace yourself. Breathe.

1st: Don’t expect your aging parents to pick up new technology as quickly as you did. Set a couple of goals for them versus teaching entire platforms. Show them how to email or upload pictures instead of how to trade cryptocurrencies between exchanges while doing two-factor authentications.

2nd: Document the process with ample usage of pictures or videos. Place these tutorials in a neatly bound binder with tabs labeling each activity. Or maybe have a folder on their computer’s desktop where they can access these recordings and follow along.

3rd: Cut out the jargon and speak to them clearly. They don’t need to learn the acronyms and net-speak. Associate the activities with ones they’ve come to know. Let them learn as they go by being on the platform rather than trying to front-load it (which will only cause a stressful situation for both of you).

A lot of the issues your folks may have with technology may stem from their lifestyle. They have tools that already fulfill their needs – so they wonder why they need something new. Talk about the benefits (saving time, money, better communication) rather than the features; treat it like you’re selling the product or service!

It’s Nice to Be in Touch
Our aging parents mostly want to use technology to improve their daily lives and communicate with family. They’re not so different from you and me. It may take them a while longer to understand the concepts, but they shouldn’t have too much trouble adopting the tech once they discover the benefits.

Their adoption of newer tech and platforms will help take control of their finances and improve their quality of life with mobility aids. It will help them secure their health via apps, easier access to the healthcare system, and awareness. It’ll make your eventual task of caring for them much easier, too.

Do your nana and papa a favor – help them adopt technology.

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