How To Assist the Elderly with Today's Technical Gadgets

Modernization can be a problem to the elderly.  This is primarily because they did not have state-of-the-art equipment during their time, and that at their age, it seems unnatural for them to be "techie".  The people of today, who are advanced in using modern equipment such as cellular phones, digital cameras, PSP, DVD, mp3, and computers, are given the job of teaching the elderly how to operate the afore-mentioned gadgets.

  1. It is imperative that you provide a list of instructions or a manual.  This would give the elderly a know-how of the procedures.  However, since these manuals contain technical jargons, it is best that you explain the details very well.  For example, in using the cellular phone, tell him what a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card is.  If the phone is more techie, like if it has bluetooth features, then you better explain what bluetooth can do, such as transferring files from the computer or vice versa, or sharing data or documents with other users.  Another example would be the digital cameras.  Of course, the elderly is accustomed to the "old" and Polaroid ones.  In introducing the digital camera, take note of the gadgets' advantages, such as taking lots of pictures without having to waste on the film.  Pictures taken from digital cameras have more megapixels and are clearer.  Plus one can edit them on the computer.
  2. When you explain how a gadget works, giving a demonstration would help a lot.  An elderly person tends to be visual and kinesthetic learners.  He has to see and try to use the equipment.  In using the computer and the Internet, be ready to be hands-on with your "student".  Be patient in telling him where to click the mouse, and be more patient in answering his queries.  Furthermore, you can try to make analogies between these latest gadgets to those materials the elderly are acquainted to.  For instance, you may compare the Internet to a huge library, and the links are like the shelves.  Make sure that you explain using simple terms to eliminate confusion and frustration on the part of the elderly student.
  3. Repeat procedures for a few times or at least until your elderly student has understood the basics.  Do not leave him without fully explaining the primary steps needed.  On the other hand, do not be hard on him, too.  The elderly only needs to know the basic techniques. He does not have to focus on advanced tutorials.
  4. Be kind enough to provide notes to your student.  The instructions in the booklet may be too many for him to process, so extend the gesture of restating these directions.  Use mnemonics for easier reference.  List down the concepts which he finds difficult to comprehend, and make an effort to look for ways to break the technical barrier.
  5. Clarify the services given by a gadget - that not all phones contain the same features, that computers have different memory capacities, or that televisions do not have the same number of cable channels.

The elderly may be technically-challenged, but they are teachable.  It just depends on how you deliver your lesson.  As mentioned, be exceptionally patient, for these people actually observe how a thing works, but are oftentimes scared to try using them.


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