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  • Nancy Spear

Cell Phones, Tablets, and Computers: Tips for Patiently Helping Older Adults

Most times, when I tell someone about my business helping older adults with technology, I get one of two responses:

1. “Oh, you must be so patient.”

2. “I need you for my mom. It’s so frustrating. I’ve told her the same things over and over again.”

Yes, it can be frustrating. And, yes, I am patient.

When helping an older adult, keep in mind that it's all new to them and it can be overwhelming. Do one thing at a time. Then do it again.

Here’s a scenario. Your dad wants to know how to attach a photo to an email. There are two ways to go about it:

Example 1: You’re getting ready to leave, putting on your jacket, and grabbing your keys. From the other side of the room, you say, “Okay, open a new email and click on the paperclip. Find the photo and click. Just add your message. Love you. Gotta run.”

If you are rushing out the door, it’s probably not the best time to show him. Instead, find a time to come back just for that reason.

Example 2: Sit down next to your dad. Realize that you’re not just going to be showing him how to attach a photo. You’re going to be spending time and visiting. No need to be in a rush.

Also, very important, decide if you’re going to show him how to attach it with the paperclip or by dragging. If you give him two choices, it's already confusing. Keep it simple.

Show him how to find his photos. Chances are they mean something to him. Ask about them. What year was it? Who was he with? He’ll want to show them to you as much as he wants to learn how to attach one.

Be mindful of the moment. Enjoy the time instead of thinking about your next errand or event. Know that the next time you see him, he might have the same question and that’s okay.

And, life is busy; if you don’t have time, call me. That’s what I do.


Nancy's Tech Help for Older Adults


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