Teaching Your Elderly Parents about Technology

Debbie Centeno

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

YouTube Excitement

When my elderly father was in town, he stayed with me for three months. He is slow-paced in his ways but then again, he’s 81-years-old. Dad is quite smart and even though he is not too knowledgeable about the latest technology, once he learns, he is unstoppable. A few months ago, he discovered YouTube. It was miraculous for him. As an avid gardener, he began researching anything and everything regarding gardening. Every time I called him, he would give me lessons on how to fertilize this, how to water that, and so on.

“You don’t have YouTube,” Dad would tell me.

“Dad, of course, I have access to YouTube. It is everywhere for anyone to access,” I’d respond.

“No, but in my YouTube, I learn how to care for my garden,” he’d reply.

Realizing he did not understand the YouTube concept, I opted to let it be. Dad watched the YouTube videos on his home television but claimed it was hard to navigate the keyboard on the remote. While there is a television in the guest bedroom at my home, there is no extra keyboard, but I had an older laptop that was no longer in use. I asked him if he’d like to have it. His eyes gleamed with excitement. Therefore, I set up the laptop and gave it to him. It thrilled him to learn to use it.

I Need to be Patient

While sometimes I did not want to repeat myself, I also realized his mind was not as sharp as before and I needed to have patience. With this in mind, I patiently taught him how to navigate a laptop. I am also aware he used my son’s expertise to master his way around the internet and, for his age, he became a pro.

Upgrade to a Newer Phone

After a few days of being at home, I noticed his old school flip phone. He told me he's had it for the past six or seven years. I asked him if he’d like to upgrade it. My son had recently upgraded his cell phone and still held on to his old iPhone XS. When he excitedly told me he would love to as long as he didn’t have to pay anything, I laughed but got to work on switching phones. He is still learning his way around the iPhone but is keen to learn and picks up quickly.

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Emoji of Dad- photo by the author

Emoji Fun and Email

I taught him how to create his own emoji. He laughed at it and said it did not look like him. But I could tell he was excited to use it — especially when I heard he sent his wife the emoji.

He also inquired about the E-mail address I created for him. “What is this and what is it for?” he asked.

“That’s your E-mail address Dad?” I replied.

“What does it do?” he asked.

I explained how and what the E-mail is for. I’m not surprised he understood it so quickly. Dad is and always has been very smart.

“It’s like writing a letter and sending it, but instead of sending it through regular mail, you send it through the internet,” he responded.

“Yes Dad, that’s exactly what it is,” I said, as I looked at his gleaming eyes.

They Taught Us

My point is, I’ve heard people complain about how their elderly parents have forgotten how to perform some basic things and they have to reteach them. While I was teaching my father how to use a laptop and an iPhone, I realized how fragile his mind is. I had patience in teaching my children, just like my parents had it with me. I remembered how Dad taught me to drive with patience and perseverance. He never scolded or gave up on me. Therefore, why can’t I have the patience to help him in his time of need? Every day he asks me something regarding his iPhone, and I learned to respond to his questions patiently and sweetly and sometimes repeatedly.

Therefore, never forget that possibly one day, we will all be at the other end of this journey and will need our children’s help. So be patient and nice while responding to your elder's questions and/or teaching them about something not familiar to them, because they were patient and nice to you.

Originally published at https://debbiesreflection.com on August 31, 2021.

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My writing journey began as a way to cope with grief. I realized I enjoyed writing and began a blog, Debbie’s Reflection (https://debbiesreflection.com). I also enjoy traveling. Therefore, as a traveler, I began another blog, Traveler Wows (https://travelerwows.com), in which I share tips on places, landmarks, and reviews on airlines, hotels, and restaurants. Thank you for joining me on my writing journey.

Orlando, FL
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