Your toddler has figured out how to navigate your iPhone, so surely your elderly mother or grandfather can do it too. While this is true, it is decidedly more trying to teach an elderly family member to use the latest technology. Here are some tips to make it a little easier to help your family member to learn how to use a new smartphone:
Why They Should Learn
Your elderly parent has gotten by for decades without a mobile phone, so they may ask why they really need one now. And while it may present a major challenge for them in the short term, the long-term gains are well worth the effort.
Learning how to use a smartphone can be the key to maintaining their independence, no matter their age. It is a lifeline to the rest of the world and can help users of any age get out and explore. For instance, your elderly family member probably has limited their driving or quit altogether, instead relying on family and friends to get to the grocery store, doctor appointments and the pharmacy. But with a smartphone, they can now use rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to get around on their own without inconveniencing anyone or paying more for taxi rides. Or they can have someone else do their errands for them using an app like Postmates or Instacart. A smartphone is also useful for keeping in touch with family and friends who live in other cities. Now they can FaceTime or Skype with people anywhere in the world and maintain personal connections to help keep them social and feeling their best.
Navigating the Options
To a novice, the smartphone options can be incredibly overwhelming. Help your elderly loved one shop for a device and narrow the options for them. One way to do so is to choose a provider and then select one device from each of the available operating systems, like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. For instance, the iPhone SE is a reliable option. Both it and the Samsung Galaxy S7 are packed with features, have an adjustable size text display, large screens and are designed to be intuitive to use.
Choosing a plan may prove to be equally confusing, so help by selecting the best option or getting a prepaid phone. Alternatively, it may cost less to simply add a line to your own cellphone plan for your elderly family member, thanks to the many affordable family plans available.
Teaching Them How to Use a Smartphone
Teaching your elderly relative how to use a smartphone requires a lot of patience and empathy. It’s critical to keep an open mind to help you understand where they are coming from if they are having trouble following along. As an avid mobile user for years, it is easy for you to skip over things that seem obvious, but may be confusing to a new user. Above all, take your time and cover a little bit at a time. Encourage your family member to try doing tasks themselves after you show them.
Expect some frustration. But remember, this is helping your family member in more ways than just the tasks that a smartphone allows them to do. Learning something new like this is also a great brain exercise, providing ample neurological stimulation that has been proven to help senior live a longer life. Practice using apps like Uber and Instacart with your loved one so they can get comfortable with them and ask relevant questions. Before long, your family member will get comfortable enough to use the phone on their own and will enjoy a whole new world of options.