Men and women 65 years and older make up just over 12 percent of the US population*. Of those, only about 30% go online**. There are lots of reasons for that, I’m sure, including health issues. But I know from personal experience that fear stops many from giving it a whirl. Even if someone helps them to try it, they run into such a learning curve they give it up sooner rather than later. It’s frustrating for those of us who are watching that happen to people we care about. I know that if they could just get over that “learning hump” they would love getting email from relatives who don’t live close. They could enjoy the thrill of discovering a new recipe or finding help with a recalcitrant plant. The news and weather junkies among them would thoroughly enjoy immersing themselves in the options available online. And for those who are social but can’t get out because of health problems, there are lots of forums specifically geared for senior adults.
I remember trying to help a dear friend when he got brave and bought his own computer. I helped him set it up, spent hours explaining everything to him many times, and answered all his telephoned questions patiently. But after a couple of months, he gave up and decided he wasn’t that interested. I think part of the problem was that he felt like he was the only one who didn’t get it.
Today I went to the bookstore and discovered several books specifically geared for older adults who want to learn to use a computer. I wish they had been available then! There’s something about holding a book in your hand with the help you need, to make you feel like you are not alone. If he could have had even one of these books, he could have read it on his own and realized he was NOT alone. And that others really HAD done it. And that he COULD do it!
I would also have bought one or two of these books for another special friend of mine. She determined that she was going to learn to use the computer on her own, even though she lived so far from anyone who could help her with it – and she did! But these books would have made it so much easier for her.
Since computers, and computer books, become obsolete very quickly, I generally recommend buying the most recent book available. At this moment, that would be “Computers For Seniors For Dummies.” I personally love the Dummies books. They are funny, interesting, and informative. This particular one starts at the very beginning with purchasing the computer. It takes you through the initial setup and customization, teaches you how to work with files, then branches out into scanners, printers, and fax machines. From there, it goes into using different programs such as word processors, spread sheets, media, music, and games. Part three is all about the internet including email, webcams, and blogs like www.SandwichINK.com (I couldn’t resist!). The final section covers protecting and maintaining your computer. All in all, this is a very well-rounded book. It explains things in a manner a non-tech can understand, and covers fun things as well as serious. And, of course, it has the normal Dummies cartoons that I always enjoy.
If you have a special someone in your life who would like to learn to use the computer or learn more about it, you might want to send them a copy of this book. You can CLICK HERE for the latest books on computers for seniors to check out what Amazon currently has. I would suggest getting a copy for yourself as well so when they call to ask questions, it’ll be easy for you to help them find the information they need.
*Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics
**Pew Research Center