Guest Blog Post: “Practice Makes Perfect” - Seniors Go Online!

Seniors go on-line using the computer

By Kelsey Hillier, Student Volunteer at Luther Village on the Park

Every day of your life, you age, you change and you adapt to new things.

Although it is constantly changing, one of the most mainstream things we learn to adapt to is technology. Everybody uses technology in some way or another. The most popular way to use technology is through computers and other technological devices such as the iPad, mobile phones or other tablets.

Over the last several years, older adults have been the fastest growing segment of the online population. More and more people over the age of 60 are learning to adapt to the idea of technology and social media, and most would say it has had a positive impact on their lives. A national survey revealed that for Canadians aged 60 and over, 53% are on social networking sites such as Facebook and 96% are using email as a way of communication. Between 7 and 8 out of 10 seniors are using technology in one way or another.

Because of the constant changes in technology nowadays, it is more difficult for most seniors to keep up, thus they still lag behind young people in their usage. It is a huge shift for seniors, having been raised in a generation where there was no such thing as a computer or “email”. That being said, technology can serve a great purpose in the lives of seniors for many reasons. It not only connects individuals with their friends and family but also is a way to stay updated about what’s going on in the lives of others and society. Almost all seniors are connected with email; it serves a great purpose in their lives by making it easy to communicate with their family and friends who may not be able to visit often.

When I began my volunteer placement at Luther Village on the Park, I was asked to teach computer lessons to the residents. Nothing too complicated, just teaching basic computer skills. My first few lessons started out simple, teaching individuals about the tablets and how to send pictures through emails. The more comfortable I got with my ability to teach the residents, the more in-depth I could go with every session. I am currently helping out individuals by fixing their tablets when an error has occurred as well as showing them how to fix the errors themselves, for future reference. I’ve created “How To” sheets for those who ask and help those who drop by the Events office with a question. Throughout the past four weeks I have seen tremendous change with each and every resident. Although some seniors may have poor memory, with right         instructions and the right teacher they can pick up on almost anything after some practice. I have seen immense growth with each resident I assist.

One of the more memorable sessions I’ve had with a resident was when I  began to teach the use of Google Maps. What makes it memorable was once the resident figured out how to properly use this site, he began to show me the places that he held dear to his heart from his childhood. I watched this individual  reminisce and it made me realize how good technology is for seniors. I watched how happy it made him seeing his old childhood house, and how his eyes grew bigger with every address he searched.

It really is amazing how technology can impact our lives day to day. I enjoy teaching seniors about technology. The greatest part about doing these sessions is how rewarding it is to watch each resident explore the abilities technology has to offer and how happy it makes them. Although it may be overwhelming or complicated at first, it will get easier and they will enjoy the use of it more.

I  always tell them: “practice makes perfect”.

Luther Village residents who wish to have assistance learning to use the computer, please contact the Events Office.