NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Make Technology Easier for Senior Adults to Enjoy

Technology and Senior Adults

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

The digital revolution may be changing the way we live and work. But large numbers of older Americans are not going online, using smartphones, or even participating in the benefits of electronic healthcare tools specifically designed to help them.

The costs of not participating in electronic communications are growing. Government and the private sector are shifting to online tools as their dominant form of public communication. It saves time and money, and provides more responsive public services. But surveys of Internet and technology use show that many, if not most, older consumers are bypassed with online communication.

Seniors (and others) can use an iPad to keep their minds sharp by playing Sudoko while waiting at the doctor’s office. Or iPads can be set up to remind them of scheduled activities or when to take medications. Home computers can be used to chat with grandchildren via Skype or to reconnect with old military buddies through Facebook or email.

A key barrier for many senior citizens wanting to use technology is the inability to see the monitor or smartphone display.

There are several different ways to make the display larger on your monitor screen. First, adjust your screen resolution. The two most common screen resolutions for increased visibility are 1024x768 (large) or 800x600 (largest).

Turning on the high-contrast option changes the background to black and the text to white to make it easier to read.
Another simple tool for those who like to surf the web is to remember that pressing the control key and the plus-sign key simultaneously will increase the size of the text on the website. For other handy tips and tricks for making your computer more accessible, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/.

The mouse also can be frustrating for seniors because it sometimes seems to have a mind of its own. First, make sure the mouse is on a clean, even surface. If using a mouse pad, make sure your mouse pad is oversized so you have enough room to move the mouse comfortably.

If left-click and right-click are confusing, consider placing a green sticky flag on the left mouse button and a red sticky flag on the right mouse button. This is an easy way to remember that if you left-click on something you are “going” somewhere, whereas if you right-click you are stopping for more menu options.

When using technology, remember that it is a tool like any other. A cross-stitch pattern does not come to life overnight, nor does a saw make a cabinet by itself. It takes time and a few false starts; the key is not to give up or get frustrated. Make technology work for you.

Source: Mississippi State University, http://msucares.com/news/print/inbox/2012/120322.html

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