DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What resources can you recommend to help seniors learn how to use technology devices? I am particularly interested in learning how to text, email and use Facebook so I can keep up with my grandkids. — Tech-Shy Senior

DEAR TECH-SHY: Keeping in touch with the younger generation these days is a lot easier if you know how to use basic cellphone and computer technologies. Here are several tips and resources that can help you get started.

While seniors make up the fastest growing group of Internet and email users in the U.S., they still lag way behind the younger generations. One of the best places seniors can turn to for help using their cellphone or computer is their own grandkids, who have grown up with these technologies and are experts at operating them. If that’s not an option, ask your friends or other family members who are tech-savvy to help you.

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to get help through your public library, local senior center, schools or community college — many of which also offer basic computer and personal technology classes to seniors. To find out what’s available in your community, call your Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 to get your local number) or your public library.

Also check out SeniorNet (seniornet.org, 571-203-7100), a national organization that offers a variety of basic online computer courses as well as instructor-led workshops at around 60 learning centers throughout the U.S. A first year membership fee of $40 is required.

Another nice resource that can help you is Eldercare Locator’s new publication called “Staying Connected: Technology Options for Older Adults.” This simple six-page guide will take you through the basic facts about how to use tools like Facebook, email and texting, including privacy and safety information.

The guide also introduces YouTube, Twitter, Skype, instant messaging and blogging. To get a free copy, call 800-677-1116 or you can read it online at www.eldercare.gov.

The “For Dummies” books (see dummies.com), offer dozens of technology guides for seniors like “Computers for Seniors for Dummies,” “Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies,” “Instant Messaging for Dummies” and many others. These can be found in bookstores nationwide or online at sites like amazon.com.

And some great online resources to check out are seniorconnects.org, which provides basic computer, Internet and email training materials tailored to seniors that can be viewed online or printed out for free. And teachparentstech.org, a site created by Google that offers a number of simple videos that explains how to do many computer functions.

Having the right tools can also make technology a little easier. Senior-friendly cellphones like the Jitterbug J (jitterbug.com, 800-733-6632), Doro phones sold through Consumer Cellular’s (consumercellular.com, 888-345-5509), and Just 5 (just5.com, 800-709-0509) are all easy to see, hear and operate, and they all have texting capabilities.

For computers, Hewlett-Packard’s SeniorPCs (enablemart.com, 888-640-1999), the Go Computer (thegocomputer.com, 877-671-5846) and KiwiPC (kiwipc.com) are three options developed specifically for older adults.

— Hometown Content

 


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