Consumer markets have seen a flood of new devices and services which can help improve our quality of life as we age. This rapid development of new products can drive new solutions but may also lead to frustration and fear in adoption. The rapid pace of change in technology can cause users to feel “left behind”. Fortunately, caregivers, friends, and relatives can help. Here are 4 practical ways we can help the aging adopt and use technology.
1. Relate new technology to things they already use
New products are often built by enhancing or adding features to existing technology. Most of us have used or are at least familiar with communication products like text messaging, email, and video calls. So for example, you can relate a new fall detection device to familiar technology by explaining that it is simply a device that sends a text message to loved ones whenever a fall is detected.
2. Keep it simple
Complexity can lead to frustration. When looking at solutions spend time to see what it is like for the end user. Wherever possible, make the experience easy by configuring the solution for the aging user. You can also help by making shortcuts on their phone or computer to make it easier to navigate.
3. Make a cheat sheet
A simple checklist that explains how to do basic tasks (preferably with screenshots) can really help an aging user to become comfortable with a new technology. Consider laminating the instructions so that they are more durable and easier to locate.
4. Use remote administration
Wherever possible, setup the technology to allow remote administration using an account that you can access. This will allow you to help configure and troubleshoot technology without needing to walk the aging user through a complex series of steps.
Helping loved ones increase their comfort with technology as they age is an important contribution we can make to their enjoyment of life and to the pleasures they discover in longevity.