Tackling Tech: Tips for Using Technology for Seniors
These past few years of pandemic life have forced many to turn to technology as a means of connection. Doctor’s appointments turned to video visits, typical in-person social engagements became phone calls or text chains, and classes and activities moved to Zoom and other virtual platforms. This large shift, happening almost simultaneously, can be confusing to navigate. How do you set up your new tablet? How can you use an app to order groceries or download library books? How can you give an Alexa device commands to check the weather? There are endless possibilities of what technology can help you to do, especially as a senior, to enhance your life, but navigating just how to do so can be a challenge. Here are a few tips.
- First and foremost, identify what you’d like to accomplish. Just jumping in and trying to learn everything at once is overwhelming. Set a goal to focus on just learning how to do that one thing and give yourself the grace to do so over multiple sessions.
- Start small with activities such as turning on a device or setting up an email address. If there are barriers to getting started, such as internet access or affording a device, identify these barriers and reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging where you can be connected to resources.
- Ask for help if you need it. It is okay to not know everything and if you hit a wall, it can be helpful to turn to a friend or family member for guidance and input.
- Seek out resources. If you don’t have a person to turn to for questions, you can use one of the many resources below.
- GetSetUp: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services partnered with GetSetUp, a digital education platform for older adults, to offer 150+ technology and enrichment classes, all taught by retired educators. www.getsetup.io/partner/michigan
- Making IT Easier Series: The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan has a video series designed to teach seniors how to use technology to enhance their lives. You can check out these videos on our website, including lessons on how to use Facetime, order grocery delivery via Shipt, get a ride with Lyft, and more www.aaawm.org/tech
- Senior Neighbors Technology Support Program: Through workshops and one-on-one support, local seniors in Kent County will receive person-centered services to provide access to affordable internet and devices, develop technical skills, and find confidence in utilizing technology. You can learn more about this program at www.seniorneighbors.org/tech
- Older Adults Technology Services (OATS): A national program, with Senior Planet as its flagship, OATS provides courses, programs, and activities to help seniors learn new skills, save money, get in shape, and make new friends. You sign up for their newsletter and participate in online offerings at https://seniorplanet.org/ You can also call the Senior Planet Tech Hotline: (888) 713-3495.
- AGING Connected: Partners with telecommunications companies, nonprofits, and public entities to bring low-cost internet options to older adults nationwide. Call for support: 877-745-1930
- Practice online safety. Write down your account information and passwords to online accounts and keep them in a safe place. Check your links and attachments to ensure they are from trusted sources, oftentimes an “https” before a website link is a good indicator that a link is secure.
- Use Accessibility Features. It can be hard to see a screen, type on a keypad, and click through screens. You can utilize accessibility features to make devices more user-friendly, these include options such as voice commands, magnifier and zoom options, color filters, dictation features, assistive touch, and more.
Want one-time one-on-one support? The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan will be hosting a drop-in technology event at Scottville Senior Center (140 S. Main Street, Scottville, MI 49454) on Tuesday, September 27 from 10:00 am-2:00 pm. Individuals over 60 and in the nine-county region (Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, or Osceola) can take part. You can bring in your device and receive assistance from staff. Don’t have a device? A limited number of tablets will be available to participants who do not currently have a device. Participants may take home their new tablet following the event. Questions? Call Brandon Beck at (616) 222-7024.