Why Computer Competency for Aging Parents-How to Start Them Out Right

“People who are mentally sound and physically able to move a mouse can successfully use a computer, regardless of age.” When dexterity is a problem, computers offering voice recognition are another–although I believe more expensive–option.

Why Computer Competency for Aging Parents: 4 Reasons

  • Business: Saturday’s post made the case for aging parents in business (especially when they’re in business with their computer-savvy adult children) to have computer competency.
  • Staying connected: We know connections with others are one of the 3 most important factors in healthy aging. A former highly regarded computer educator and consultant in Scarsdale, NY, (quoted above) talks about connectedness as a big part of her former student’s, Theresa’s, life.   Now 99 and using her third computer, Theresa began computer lessons at 86. Someone set up the computer for her, then came the lessons: basic instructions, then word processing, followed by internet and spreadsheets instruction. Theresa used her computer to do all the finances and monthly meeting notices for a group she belongs to, then delved into genealogy software to research her ancestry and greeting card software to stay connected to family and friends.
  • Socialization and games: Many elderly computer users like the socialization and games aspect, which join the generations and become part of a looked-forward-to daily routine. An 88-year-old widow has played poker for years. I’m guessing we all know elderly, compulsive, competitive bridge players.  And we’ve been reading about Seniors on Facebook.
  • Learning before it’s too late–whenever that is.  Sr. Advisor, R, says if she knew she was going to live this long (she’ll be 98 next week) she would have learned to use a computer when she was in her 80’s.

5 Ways to Start Parents Out Right

  • Find a teacher or someone who understands how people learn. In most cases don’t try to teach your parent.  Remember the frustration when your Dad decided he would help you with new math homework? (Perhaps your experience was better than mine. Dad was great regularly helping several guy friends, but it didn’t work with me.)
  • Being taught at home on his/her own computer is the most effective way for an older person to learn.
  • If adult/senior computer courses create enthusiasm, it’s important that the computer used in the class is the same make as the parent’s; then there’s carry-over at home.  (If you and your parents have the same computer, you can help when a question arises–but only deal with the specific question–too much information=confusion.)
  • Desktop arrangement is very important. Only needed icons should be there (again, reduces confusion).
  • A folder for the desktop, with an individual file giving simple instructions for each procedure is essential. Instructions are at-the-ready if/when an older person forgets.

Lastly, with all the information out there, aging parents can find answers to almost anything–including how to age well!


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