The internet was first brought to life in 1990 when Tim Berners-Lee invented the “World Wide Web”. Over the past 28 years the internet has come on leaps and bounds and has led to a whole new world of products and smart home gadgets. For the young people of today the internet is just another part of everyday life and for many older people the internet is solely a young person’s game.
We believe the internet can open doors for people of all ages, especially the elderly, but it can be difficult to convince loved ones or elderly parents of this. We’ve put together a guide to help you slowly introduce the internet and its benefits to your elderly parents or loved ones. Once they’ve opened their eyes to the possibilities of the internet, they won’t want to go back!
What Interests your Loved One?
The first hurdle of presenting the internet to your loved one is convincing them to try it. Take into consideration what their interests are and think about how the internet could enhance this. It’s a lot easier to get someone excited about something new when it’s already got a selling point which will directly benefit them. If your loved one is an avid reader, find an app or program like the Kindle or Audible which has a huge library of books.
Digital Unite, a website that offers online technology guides has found through its research that most elderly people they help are usually looking to research family history, send an email, contact family or play games. So, now you know what your loved one would like to learn and what they’re interested in, it’s time to welcome them to the internet.
The Technical Stuff
When it comes to showing your loved one the internet, you may have to start by doing most of the technical stuff yourself. Firstly, decide on a device for your loved one to use and consider their abilities and any health issues that could hinder them. For someone who suffers with arthritis and has difficulties moving their hands, try a tablet. A touch screen could be easier to use and most tablets these days have a voice control function such as Apple’s Siri.
As long as you should them how to use the voice function they will be able to access most other apps and programs by simply asking the tablet to do it for them. However, if your elderly parent is perfectly able, they may be able to contend with a desktop PC or a laptop.
Remember to explain everything you’re doing slowly and clearly, even if it’s something small. People who grew up with technology might not think about the little things like remembering how to turn the volume up on a PC, but for older people it could turn out to be a huge hurdle. Try to use simple language and avoid computer jargon, words like ‘upload’ or ‘browser’ are commonplace to everyday internet users but to some older people these will be words they’ve never heard before.
Sometimes, a big part of older people avoiding internet usage is because they’re scared for their safety or the safety of their personal details. A good way to combat this (at least in the beginning) is to make sure your loved one knows that there are programs and measures that can be taken to help protect their device. Like all things, the internet has its pros and cons so care should be taken when sharing information on the internet. There are readily available online guides which can offer up more information on how to stay safe online and some simple tips include:
- Ensure there’s some sort of antivirus software installed on your device.
- Never leave your device unattended.
- Back up your data regularly on a memory stick, external hard drive or cloud service.
- Don’t share passwords, and when choosing a password be sure to pick something hard to guess with a mixture of numbers, letters and special characters.
The internet has a diverse range of websites from all across the world. One main advantage the internet has is the ability it has to open doors to shops you may have never heard of and products you’ve never even thought of. The internet could give your loved one the ability to shop for anything and have it delivered directly to their door, without having to move anything more than their fingertips. Shopping is an excellent way to introduce the internet to your loved ones as it shows they can gain something from it almost instantly.
Your elderly parents may not be as agile as they once were and so visiting the high street and carrying heavy bags could be somewhat of a struggle. They might rely on you for their weekly food shop or visit a local corner shop rather than going to a larger (and usually cheaper) supermarket. Internet shopping could help your loved one gain a bit of their independence back by something as simple as a food shop.
Ordering food online is simple and easy, and is usually delivered within a few days (some even deliver on the same day). All your loved one would have to do is open the door, and the food will be delivered and brought right to their door – all they have to do is put it in the kitchen!
Your loved ones might ask you to buy birthday and Christmas presents every year as they’re not able to, but the internet could change this. Show them how easy it is for the internet to connect them to their groceries, new shoes or presents – there are even websites where they could design and purchase birthday cards without leaving the house! The internet can be an almost immediate benefit, especially to those who aren’t as able to pop out to the shops.
It Won’t Break
Some elderly people may be worried about using the internet as they may worry that the device could be easily broken. Be sure to show your loved one just how robust some devices can be, and if you’re purchasing a tablet or smartphone for an elderly parent choose a sturdy shock absorbing case.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Remember that your elderly parent or loved one may not want to ask for help if they get stuck. Having a younger teacher in a completely new environment can be difficult, and some older people may not want to ask for help as they worry that they should know how to do it, and don’t want to be a nuisance. Reassure your loved one that it’s okay to ask for help, in fact it’s encouraged! Try your best not to be patronising and put yourself in their shoes, they’ve never used the internet before!
The Careline Service
If your elderly parents are looking for independence, a Careline personal alarm is the perfect choice. Orders can be placed over the phone with our friendly and helpful customer service team on 0800 101 3333 or online via our website – just another reason for your loved one to have access to the internet! If you would like more information on the alarm then please don’t hesitae to get in touch or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.