Can Your Aging Loved One Learn To Use Technology?

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Hello again. 
 
Mikol here.   We hope this finds you well.

Today, I want to share with you an experience I had with my Mom, who was 86 when this happened. 

My Mom, Alice, was computer phobic before Dad died. She wouldn’t even touch a computer and walked away when Dad tried to teach her. My Dad spent hours on the computer every day.  She always refused learning.  She was quite stubborn about it, too.  Then, Dad was gone after a brief illness.

After we got her settled trying to learn how to live alone, she realized she would have to depend on her kids to pay her bills, not because she didn’t have money, but because Dad always banked online and she didn’t know how. She didn’t like the idea of being dependent on us.  But even though her seniors community had computer classes, she was not willing to take a class. I was going to have to be her teacher.
I was able to convince her that she just had to learn to use the computer, at least a little. She told me she regretted not learning from Dad, but she was ready now. The motivator in her case was the unwillingness to be dependent.  Maybe that will motivate your elder too.  It’s worth a try.

I flew out to spend a couple days with her and I sat with her side by side as I showed her the most basic elements of a computer.  She is not a particularly fast learner, but I am patient and she did learn. If you have an aging parent who is open to the idea, I encourage you to try this.  If you can’t do it, a willing grandchild might be a good teacher too.  Learning to pay her bills online made her so happy. She is really proud of her independence.

Many seniors are online now, but there are still a lot who aren’t. Of course the internet allows more and better connections to others, increased enjoyment of communication and the fun of mastering something new.  It can also allow you to  monitor your aging loved one’s financial activity, as a protection against scammers.  It can open a new world of email, Skype and other useful applications.

Some elders may be embarrassed that they don’t know a thing about a computer and won’t go to a class for fear of showing their ignorance.  In that case, a kind and patient attitude and offer by family to help teach them can get past their resistance.

As a caution, I need you to consider that some aging loved ones will not be able to learn something new.   Any aging parent with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other cognitive problem will have trouble learning.  It’s not their fault of course, but it is what to expect with cognitive impairment.  For others, we wish you the kind of good luck I had in teaching my Mom to become basically computer literate. It serves her to this day.  

Until next time,
 Dr. Mikol

Agingparents.com

 

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