SANDY — What do you envision when you imagine a senior citizen using a computer? Frustration? Confusion?
That stereotype needs to be updated, said Jerry Stewart, volunteer technology trainer at the Sandy Senior Center.
“What we’ve done over the last 20 years has totally changed,” Stewart said. “When we started (at the center), seniors 20 years ago didn’t know how to use a computer because they didn’t use it in their job. Then they’d retire and their children would give them their hand-me-downs, and they didn’t know how to use (them).”
“Nowadays, when a senior retires, most of them have been exposed to computers, but they’re not too sure about smartphones,” Stewart added. “So the focus of our classes at the center have changed because the education level of seniors has changed over the years.”
Stewart, along with other volunteers at senior centers around Salt Lake County, teach seniors how to use technology and have seen firsthand how this tech can benefit their lives.
Here are three pieces of tech Stewart believes can be particularly helpful for those age 60-plus.
Falls can be very dangerous for seniors. For a senior living alone or in an isolated area, those falls can be deadly.
“Sometimes when an older person doesn’t have the mobility, it’s important to find that person,” Stewart said.
Stewart teaches seniors how to enable apps and settings on their phones so their children or other caretakers can find them. He suggests the Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps.
For seniors, Facebook is a way to follow and connect with loved ones far away. The Sandy Senior Center has Facebook classes that not only instruct seniors how to use Facebook, but how to be safe and use the proper restrictions and settings.
Seniors have lived through records, cassettes, VHS tapes, camcorders and more old media than a teenager could even name. Priceless memories may be stored on those old technologies.
“One of the things we have the capabilities to do is take all the old media, like 35 mm slides, and digitize them,” Stewart said.
Digitizing old memories allows seniors to have pictures on their cellphones, and to save those historical memories that may currently be forgotten on outdated technology. There is even the capability to take 33 rpm records and put them on their MP3 players, Stewart said.
Any seniors 60 years of age and older who want to learn more about tech can visit one of 19 Salt Lake County senior centers or another senior center in their area.
Cindy DeLao, manager at the Sandy Senior Center, encourages seniors to walk into any open computer lab. Learning never stops, and new technologies can help seniors connect with loved ones, stay safe and relive old memories.
“They pioneered to get us this far,” DeLao said. Now, it’s time for us to help them, she added.