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Computer Help for Seniors

The internet plays a ubiquitous role in the lives of most adults. The Pew Research Center determined 87 percent of all adults are online regularly. And – despite lingering stereotypes to the contrary – the popularity of internet amongst seniors is not far behind. Pew found nearly 60 percent of seniors have embraced the internet. (This marks a significant bump. Less than ten years ago, only 35 percent of seniors surfed the net.)

Yet many seniors today may still be puzzled by technology in general – and computers.

Why Seniors Love Being Online

seniors technologyBut computers and the internet made things both easier and a little challenging. Sure, you say, I could download music on my computer, but I could also inadvertently download a virus. I enjoying staying in touch through email, but I get tired of spam. I am also concerned about identity theft. And I’m always afraid I’ll do something wrong on my computer – or that I’ll need to call my children or grandchildren to help me work through a problem.

These are all valid concerns. But the online world is here to stay, and, as Pew’s research shows, more and more seniors are onboard. Newspapers now update their online sites first. Most popular products can now be purchased online (for less). When you miss out on Facebook, you miss out on reconnecting with old classmates or seeing the latest pictures of your grandchildren posted by your kids. And if you’re a genealogy buff, chances are good you found one or two websites that help you trace your family tree in detail.

So how do you approach what seems to be a tangle of jargon, equipment and expense?

One step at a time.

Computer Basics for Seniors

Think of a computer as a typewriter connected to a screen that’s connected to the world. Anything that’s available in the world, can be accessed online. It’s just a matter of learning some simple commands and finding the things that will make it easier for you.

If it helps you to start with a book, do that. You can probably find these at your library or local bookstore if you aren’t adept yet at Amazon.com. The “Dummies” series of books is popular, and there’s one that is ideal for seniors puzzled by technology: Computers for Seniors for Dummies by Nancy C. Muir. The “Idiots” guides are similar: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Using Your Computer – For Seniors by Paul McFedries is worth checking out. There are also many guides made to help you understand various software packages – software that runs your computer programs. Also, you can find similar books written to help you with your Mac or PC, your iPhone or Android phone, your iPad or tablet.

You should also know many libraries offer free computer lessons for seniors.

Sometimes small adjustments can make computers more accessible for seniors. For instance, did you know that you can adjust the type size on most computers? On PCs, it can be done by holding down the Control button while rolling the wheel on the mouse. In Apple computers, you press the Apple and J keys together, which brings up a box that lets you increase the text size. And if the text on your keyboard itself is too hard to read, there are large-print keyboards or large-print keyboard stickers you can buy.

Additional Options for Seniors Using Technology

In some ways, a tablet may be easier to learn than a computer, and it gives you access to many of the functions you may find most important: email, calendars, the ability to see digital photos, social media, internet access, and popular apps that range from games to brain exercises to retail stores. You can even video chat with the grandkids using popular free apps like Skype or Facetime. Tablets are touch-screen, which means simplicity (though some come with keyboards if desired). Almost every computer or mobile phone manufacturer makes its own tablet now. The most popular ones are Apple’s iPad, Microsoft’s Surface, Samsung’s Galaxy, Google’s Pixel and Amazon’s Fire and Kindle. Cnet.com, a reliable consumer technology site, ranked several in its best of 2016 list and included various price ranges.

There’s even a computer just for seniors: The Wow! computer people designed a computer that irons out many of the problems seniors encounter when using technology. The screen is large, and it’s a touch screen (though you also have a keyboard). You never lose your place on the screen because the main menu stays visible at all times (menu options are Home, Video Chat, Email, Photos, Calendar, Contacts, Weather, News, Web and Games). The computer is pre-loaded with software, including anti-virus software. It also has instructional videos and a live support line.

Take a step. And then another, and then another. It won’t be as hard as you think. The truth is, the fact that you’re reading this article right now means you’re already on the way.

If you would like to see additional tips about how you can make your home more “senior friendly,” be sure to read our new free guide, Safe Home. Happy Home. Get your free copy now!