Computers for older people

Young people and those in the world of business aren’t the only people using computers these days

More and more older people are getting interested in computers, because they want to stay in touch with their families

Some families stay physically close to one another throughout life, but that’s not the case with everyone. There are also families scattered across the country or across the world. They aren’t close physically, but they still often want to stay close emotionallyBecause of that, they turn to computers – and doing that can leave the older members of the family out of the loop

Getting the ageing started with a computer (Watch our video)

Fortunately for most older people, there are family members and friends who will help them learn to use a computer. If they don’t have that kind of help close by, there are classes they can take in order to get comfortable with things like the Internet and email. Even if they don’t type very fast, or are a little bit unsure of what they’re doing, they can still connect with their loved ones and with people all over the world. Increasingly, older people have been joining social networking sites too, just so they can reach out to more people and make new friends

The benefits of internet connectivity for older people

The internet can be a source of emotional therapy for those senior citizens who might be feeling a little lost. They can keep in touch with family and friends via email and see them on screen when calling via Skype. Socializing on the internet can at least help keep their mind sharp and a sense of belonging to the world. Older people who don’t have a lot of family members, or who aren’t particularly close to anyone, can find ways to get and stay in touch with people they’ve known for years and chat to people they’ve just met through social networking sites

Computers can transform how they shop and how they entertain themselves

If your ageing parent is immobile, computers can give them access to a whole new world, where they can access shopping, information and contact. The computer can promote life-long learning, where older people can research areas of interest, or take on-line courses. Today’s technology can help alleviate loneliness and gives older people a chance to share their wisdom–whether they participate in chat rooms, maintain a personal blog or give children and grandchildren advice

Those who might be currently living in a nursing home, or having hospital treatment might be feeling a little less independent, or be a little depressed at their state of life. The internet can provide them with information regarding their specific ailment, chat to patients going through the same thing and even suggest an alternative treatment of which they might be unaware. All of these things help the ageing to keep their minds agile and active. For older people who are adventurous enough to try it, the Internet can be a great tool

Problems older people can have with embracing the computer

By far the biggest problem is lack of confidence. Most older people encountering computers for the first time believe that it will all be far too difficult for them to make sense of at their age. One feature of computer applications which older people often find difficult to master is the large number of details that must be remembered in order to accomplish tasks.  Each detail is small in itself, but all must be learned in order to make use of the software. Once this is pointed out to them, and their confidence established, they can then use strategies to master the software, such as having reminder sheets by the keyboard, or making good use of online help facilities.

Another difficulty is knowing how to move confidently from switching the computer on, to making use of the wanted application.  Again, instilling confidence is an important factor here, as is a chance to repeat the process of navigating from switching on through to launching the desired applications confidently. A physical skill that many older people find very difficult at first is using the computer mouse.  Many report that this problem alone has meant they have abandoned attempts to do classes in introductory computing, since they are embarrassed at their slowness in acquiring this minor but important physical skill. A few hours practice  with the mouse usually solves this problem, but this must be done before any real applications involving using the mouse are attempted, or confidence will suffer

Mastering the computer with other older people can help, as it avoids the embarrassment the learner might feel with a younger person who knows all about the technology. Also, having an older person as a teacher provides a constant role model and proof that the technology can, in fact, be mastered by someone who is no longer young

How to solve problems older people might have with computers

Check your local education authority, or other local educational of groups, many of whom will run very useful beginners courses on computing. There are a number of helpful computing books available, such as, which come with a DVD. If the mouse is a real problem, there are touch screen computers available, which can take away the fear of using the computer. All they need to do is touch the screen. If you can persuade your ageing parent to embrace the computer, they will be able to live more fulfilling lives due to the access it will give to them.

Watch our video of the best iPad apps for the elderly





  1. Happy people live longer | My Ageing Parent says:

    June 14th, 2012 at 1:59 pm (#)

    […] So what are the important factors? It appears that social interaction is the key.  Even if people are less mobile and therefore less able to get out themselves, it’s critical to have contact with others, whether that is via visitors at home, at day centres or even communicating with friends via the internet. […]

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