skip to Main Content
Midway, PA (724) 796-3040 Erie, PA (814) 315-0123 Franklin, PA (814) 209-4699

Basic Computer Skills for Seniors

Our lives are intertwined with the Internet of Things (IoT) – a world of digital devices connected to the internet that streamline tasks and have become an integral part of our everyday routines. Typically, the younger generations are very adept at navigating technology, while many seniors feel overwhelmed by it. The good news is that learning the basics and becoming a tech-savvy senior is not that hard. Take the necessary time to get acclimated and find guidance in online tutorials or personal assistance. Digital literacy training will give a senior the confidence and skills they need to access more information and online services in the future.

A Short History of Computers

Computers are electronic devices that manipulate information in a coded format. A computer can store, retrieve, and process information or data. The data is rendered through software applications that provide screen displays of written text, pictures, video, and sound. The personal information age began with the desktop computer.

  • A desktop personal computer (PC) has a screen (monitor), a keyboard and a mouse for input, and a hardware tower. It’s connected by the main power cable and is stationary.
  • A laptop computer, or notebook, is a self-contained, thin device that opens like a clamshell with the monitor at the top and the keyboard and mouse below. Laptops are portable, and while they have a power cable to plug into a wall, they also have a battery that can last for hours without needing a power outlet.

Smaller Devices

The newest versions of computers contain small but efficient microprocessors to create tablets, smartphones, and wearable devices. A tablet is a wireless, portable, lightweight personal computer that uses a touch screen to interact with your fingertip. It’s a single flat surface monitor with a camera for photo and video capabilities. Like a laptop, a tablet is charged in a wall outlet but has a battery that.

Smartphones and wearable devices like a smartwatch or health care tracker have cellular capabilities for internet connectivity and are essentially a portable mini-computer. Like a tablet, they have a touch screen and camera. These tiny devices use cellular tower connections or Wi-Fi connections, referred to as hot spots. Wi-Fi is wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide high-speed internet and network connections. These devices all have batteries that must be recharged.

Interacting with the Internet of Things

All of these types of computers can connect to the Internet of Things  through embedded electronics and applications that enable you to:

  • Browse the internet
  • Use email
  • Play games
  • Listen to music
  • Watch movies
  • Engage in social media
  • Chat by video
  • Shop online
  • Edit or share photos, videos, and documents

The Internet of Things integrates with your living environment to use a smart home to adjust lighting, heating, or cooling. You can share vital signs with your medical professionals via a wearable diagnostic device, remotely monitor your front door with a doorbell camera, and even manage your finances through a secure online connection.

If you have children or grandchildren, talk to them about which type of computer is best suited to you. Many computers are designed for the aging population with larger font sizes and buttons, offering voice controls. Once you select your computer, get help connecting the device to the online world. Eventually, you will learn how to configure your connectivity settings, but your first steps should be about familiarizing yourself with the basics of the technology.

Learning to Operate Digital Devices

If you are unfamiliar with using a computer, a variety of computer self-help books describe different types of technologies and how to use them. The book by Nancy C. Muir, Computers for Seniorsfor Dummies, is a good book that simplifies learning. If you already have access to the internet, several online services provide technology lessons and instructional videos at no cost. These tutorials allow you to work at your own pace and repeat a section that you might find particularly challenging to grasp. GCFGlobal and are free websites that can help you learn computer basics and skills to engage in Internet of Things (IoT) apps and devices. If you are somewhat familiar with computers, you can also search online and browse YouTube for video instructions that provide quick overviews of general computer understanding and specifics like setting up a Facebook account or creating a Zoom account.

The Benefits of Technology for Seniors

Even if you have zero computer experience, don’t be afraid to engage in computer and online technology. Grab a trusted tech-savvy friend, child, or grandchild who can help you take your first few steps. Being online can connect you to friends and loved ones or medical professionals. It can minimize feelings of isolation or boredom, allow you to explore the virtual world, and spark new interests to keep you mentally engaged. Once you’ve mastered computer technology basics, you can simplify tasks at home, expand your interests, and have some fun.

Our estate planning and elder law firm is dedicated to educating families about issues that affect seniors who may be experiencing declining health. Contact our elder law attorneys for more information about technology for seniors that make daily living easier. We can also discuss long-term care options, like in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home facilities, as well as ways to pay for services.

This article offers a summary of aspects related to long-term care planning. It is not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, we invite you to contact our offices in Midway, Erie, and Franklin PA.


Back To Top