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Technology for Aging Adults


Now now, I know we're all technically aging, I'll certainly be slightly older by the time I finish this blog piece, but I didn't want to use the word elderly in the title for a very good reason.


Elderly doesn't imply any particular age. By definition it's something more along the lines of; aged, aging, or old. In reality it's something that no one ever wants to admit to being, and to be called elderly by another person I would no doubt consider to be a bit insulting. So aging it is, and that's something that we're all doing, all the time.


Now a nice thing about getting older is that our confidence in ourselves builds. We become more experienced, and the certitude with which we approach things becomes a very powerful asset. There is a point somewhere along the curve though that our confidence tends to decrease, and when it comes to older people and technology this lack of confidence is the biggest problem.


From the start they tend to believe that they just can't figure the thing in question out, and that's not a very good frame of mind to be in when trying to learn something. That something might be an Operating System, an iPhone, a Tablet, or any one of a number of other devices, but it must be remembered that once upon a time that thing was something else (GPS, Voice Mail, etc.) something that has been mastered already, and become engrained in the learner.


Instilling confidence has to be an integral part of any efforts to work with an older person to help them learn a new technology, and for older people reading this here I have the following advice, "Don't get down on yourself if you don't feel like you're learning as quickly as you feel you should, everything you learn each time you try is a building block in the foundation upon which you will stand when you try again tomorrow."


To learn a new technology is akin to memorizing a sequence of details, a very basic example of which could be:
  1. Turning the Computer 'On'
  2. Logging In
  3. Using the Mouse
  4. Launching a Program
  5. Saving your Work
  6. Shutting the Computer 'Off' (properly)
Now there are a lot of parts I've left out between launching a program and saving your work, but those steps, just like the other steps in the list come one after another, and in due time.


Email is a great thing for older people to learn, the typing aspect of it is more or less intuitive, and as the needs arise for them to venture into the different drop-down menus and other buttons it is relatively easy to learn those one at a time as well (even I forget where I found something now and then, and Iím only aging on forty currently, so don't sweat that either if you now and then forget where something is).


Learning a web browser is another great tool for an older person (depending on the person and level of supervision required, the computer can easily be configured such that the account that the learner is using doesn't have Administrator privileges, for that matter the primary user account shouldn't have Admin rights for day to day things either, not without re-entering a password if such rights are required). They can check the weather, read up on current events, research topics of interest to them, and eventually even learn more about the computer they're using right then and there. From there the sky is the limit really; Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, some manner of Accounting Software, whatever the person feels most interests them really after they get the basics down (should I say more about the convenience of online shopping, especially for someone with mobility issues?).


Confidence is key though, whether it is something to be maintained or encouraged, it is absolutely necessary when learning a new technology. I'll have to do some research into the availability of community-based programs that teach the basics of Information Technology, and IT Security to older people, and in the event I can't find something in my area, perhaps find a way to volunteer. Technology can really make our lives easier if we understand it, and the options it affords us.