The world of technology is an ever-changing mass of information and capabilities. What is true today will most likely change by next week. And although many seniors do want to “keep up,” with the times, typically we’re overwhelmed by the flood of choices, the complex terminology and the physical use of a computer product.
If you’re a senior trying to make an informed choice on the purchase of a new computer, you’ll want to take a look at the information below.
The Major Issues
There is no doubt that we are creatures of habit. And as we age, we’re less willing and able to handle changes. New computers often require us to do a simple task such as getting on the internet in a different way. We need to learn a new sequence of clicks to accomplish a very simple task, and it can be a frustrating experience.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to select a new computer product that requires as little change as possible. Thus, if you’re used to using Windows 10, you might want to choose a new product that is as much the same visually as your old model.
A willingness to view tutorials and practice making the required adjustments to a new product is also a wonderful attitude to adopt. But even with that in your arsenal of weapons, you may want to choose a new computer product that is as similar to your old as possible.
Desktop or Laptop
Many experts will direct you to a laptop over a desktop computer. There are good reasons for using a laptop—they’re lightweight and portable. But they also offer fewer functions, being most useful for surfing the web, playing games and using social media. They require the use of a touch screen rather than a keyboard and mouse—a new skill for most seniors and also may require monthly connection fees much as a cell phone. If you do decide on a laptop, you’ll want to choose the largest screen you can afford, to ensure good visibility. Be sure to test the sound components to be sure they’re loud enough.
Most seniors want a computer product to keep in touch with friends and family. They want e-mail, picture storage, access to games and perhaps a communication system such as Skype or Face time. Some may also desire applications such as weather updates, medication and appointment reminders, additional ways to share photos and a CD/DVD player.
One of the most important issues with seniors is simplicity. Are there enough cues to help you find the right icons and tabs on the screen? Are help tabs readily available? Is there a tech system in place allowing you to offer remote access to trusted family members should you need help?
Another consideration is affordability. Computer products can become so expensive they’re out of reach for a senior on a budget, especially if they require many component parts and additional programs before installation. It’s important to do your research before making a purchase decision.
Ease of set-up is another issue. Even the simplest system may require set up with the help of someone who understands technology well. And be sure to take physical comfort (ergonomics) into consideration as the set-up is done. The desk and chair for your desktop need to be positioned correctly and the monitor must be at the correct height. You may desire a specialized keyboard to minimize wrist strain, etc. If you select a laptop product, you’ll need help setting up all the applications.
Where to Get Help
Local Senior Centers and Community Colleges
Many senior centers and senior living facilities offer beginning computer classes. They’re also available at your local community college. Learning some of the computer vocabulary and spending time on a computer while an instructor is available will go a long way toward building confidence.
Friends and Family
This one is a bit tricky. Although your friends and family members may know how to use a computer, they may not be a good teacher for someone who is a novice. Keep your ears open for those who may be willing and able to teach beginning use of a computer and also has that wonderful character trait called patience.
Once you get the hang of looking for online help to perform computer tasks, it’s really quite easy. Just type in your question and you’ll find helpful videos showing you how to complete that task. If you’re like me, you’ll want to keep pencil and paper handy as you view the video so you can remember the steps to complete once the video is done.
Some Helpful Websites
The list of recommended computer products for seniors is long and complicated. Do a little research on your own and then enlist the help of someone with extensive computer knowledge before making your purchase. Here is a list of websites to help you begin to understand your particular needs and wants in selecting a new computer product.
www.FirstStreetOnline.com (click on technology made easy)