9 Easy Ways Seniors and the Elderly Can Improve Their Digital Literacy

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

To increase their digital literacy, seniors and the elderly must be intentional about it, stay patient, and ask for lots of help! It is also important that they learn about cyber security to prevent them from becoming a scammer’s next victim.

seniors learning digital device

To increase their digital literacy, seniors and the elderly must be intentional about it, stay patient, and ask for lots of help! It is also important that they learn about cyber security to prevent them from becoming a scammer’s next victim.

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In a world where almost everything is done online, digital literacy is a skill that everyone should have. Unfortunately, the digital era has caught many seniors and elderly citizens off guard. And rightly so, if we existed in their time, we’d hardly be as techno-savvy as we are today.

Well, if you’re a senior struggling with grasping your digital literally, there’s nothing hard under the sun! And we’re all products of what we are exposed to, and how much we’re willing to learn. As such, with a few key tips and willpower, you can be as digitally capable as your younglings.

Is it necessary? Yes, it is.

Senior citizens need to embrace change and acquire digital literacy skills. That way, they will be autonomous when it comes to paying their bills, communicating, and even shopping online. Besides this, digital literacy will help them to evade online conmen and fraudsters.

What Difficulties Do Seniors Face When Trying to Achieve Digital Literacy?

First, what holds seniors and the elderly back from becoming digitally literate?

Lack of Internet Connectivity

While internet connectivity sounds like a basic need for every home, most seniors do not have access to the internet. This makes it hard for elderly citizens to learn how the online world operates.

The Notion that the Internet is For the Youth

Unfortunately, most seniors still believe that the internet and social media platforms are for young people. While most seniors may have lived for many years without using the internet, the world we live in today is different. As such, seniors must first change their perspective and understand the importance of having digital skills.

Lack of Digital Devices

To acquire digital literacy, seniors will need devices such as basic laptop computers and easy to use smartphones. Unfortunately, many seniors still cannot afford such devices. However, this does not mean that you should give up. Simply look for affordable or refurbished brands and you are good to go.

9 Ways Seniors Can Improve Their Digital Literacy

Here are some quick ways that older adults can become more tech savvy:

1. Be Intentional and Create Time to Learn

To achieve digital literacy, older adults must be intentional about creating time to learn about computers and other digital devices. Remember, you will need to stay consistent to see significant results from your efforts. For example, allocate a specific time of day, say from 10 am to noon, for digital lessons.

After allocating learning time, set goals and objectives. The goal for Monday can be to learn how to send and open emails. That way, you will learn something new every day. Caregivers who want to assist their elderly loved ones to achieve digital literacy should make sure that they stay on the set schedule.

2. Use Every Resource You Can Find

Acquiring digital literacy is not easy, especially for elderly citizens who have spent their entire lives without using the internet. For that reason, numerous companies offer digital literacy resources for seniors. Choose the resources that are suitable to you and learn as much as you can.

If you are a caregiver, help the senior find perfect resources in your area. Most of these resources can be searched online. What’s more, there are plenty of free resources online that your elderly loved one can take advantage of.

3. Start by Learning about the Benefits of Digital Literacy

If you are not fully convinced about the importance of the elderly being digitally literate, all your learning efforts might be futile. This is because you will not have the motivation to keep learning when you do not have an interest. That said, always start your journey by understanding why it is important to acquire digital literacy.

Even as caregivers introduce smart gadgets to the elders in their life, it may be beneficial to emphasize the difference that they will make. This encourages them, and as long as they can maintain this attitude, they will find it easier to embrace and grasp the new technology.

In addition, you can demonstrate how using technology can make the senior’s life easy. For example, show them how much easier it is to pay their bills through internet banking services. Go ahead and compare the online and offline payment processes to show seniors why they need digital skills.

4. Create a Good Learning Environment

The setting and environment in which senior citizens study are crucial to their success. This means that the more at ease they are, the more knowledge they will be able to retain. Maintain a fun, welcoming, and relaxing atmosphere while attempting to teach the elderly.

You must not make them feel any pressure because this can irritate and discourage them. This is because the last thing a senior wants is to feel compelled to attend some form of school. Instead, allow them to use their smartphones to play engaging games. Such techniques give the impression that the item is generally enjoyable to use, and that they will soon fall in love with it.

5. Remember, Practice Makes Perfect

As seniors age, they become more forgetful which is something that can make learning difficult. However, with enough practice and consistency, seniors can retain all the information obtained during a learning session. That said, always practice what you learn.

For example, if you learn how to write and send emails, try to communicate with your loved ones via email. That way, the knowledge you acquired will be permanently ingrained in your mind. Alternatively, if you learn how to pay bills online, practice it by paying all your bills online instead of writing a check.

6. Stay Patient

One of the reasons why most seniors have not yet acquired digital literacy is because they gave up as soon as they started. You must understand that even Rome was not built in a day. Therefore, you have to be patient and give yourself time to learn, at your own pace.

Just because youngsters understand digital devices, apps, and platforms in minutes, it doesn’t mean that your learning rate should be equally fast. Keep in mind that, unlike you, most youngsters have grown up with these digital gadgets. Be patient with yourself and celebrate yourself even for the smallest achievements.

7. Ask For Help

Most seniors find it hard to learn anything about the internet because they want to do it all by themselves. Be gracious with yourself and understand that everyone needs help at one time or another. After all, no one knows you need help if you do not ask for it.

When you don’t understand something, feel free to ask your caregiver – or better yet, your grandkids – for guidance. Alternatively, young people like teenage grandkids can be very helpful. Not only will they enjoy teaching you, but they will also be glad you asked them for help.

8. Get a Good Internet Connection

Since practicing is key when it comes to acquiring digital literacy, you will need an environment with strong internet access. That way, you can put your knowledge into practice without any hindrances. While internet connectivity may look like an added expense, numerous internet connections are affordable.

Furthermore, you will save many other costs by doing tasks online. For example, online shopping will save you fuel costs. Secondly, paying bills online may be cheaper than having to go to the bank to make the payment. All these savings you make will help to cancel out the added internet expense.

9. Learn About Cyber Security

Even as seniors learn how to use the internet to simplify their daily tasks, they must be aware of internet scammers and fraudsters. After all, seniors have been easy targets for scammers in the past. This adds to the list of reasons why every elderly citizen should have digital skills.

Cyber security knowledge protects you from falling into the trap of scammers. Fortunately, cyber security is not a hard topic to understand and most seniors can grasp the concept with ease.

Read my top cybersecurity tip for seniors here.

Wrapping Up

Seniors are the backbone of our society and we must do everything we can to make them feel like they belong. By helping them acquire digital literacy, they can interact with everyone and have a strong sense of belonging. After all, the internet is a wonderful entertainment platform for retired seniors who have too much time on their hands.

What’s more, they can avoid scams and fraudsters, as well as increase their self-confidence. As the cherry on top of the cake, they also become more relatable to their children, grandkids and great-grandchildren!

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Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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