Teaching Your Elderly Family Member to Use a Cell Phone

We grow up with the assumption that our parents know everything. Up until we hit the double digit years of our pubescent youth, our parents and our elders have the answers to all of life’s questions, from how to brush one’s teeth to why the sky is blue.

However, once we become teenagers, the complete opposite seems to be true. Mom and Dad know absolutely nothing. We question each decision, rule, and request with every stubborn and rebellious bone in our bodies. Then, after we’ve successfully survived our own transition through teens, once again our parents return to their roles as the ever-knowing authority figures we so respected as kids. Mom and Dad seem to know everything about navigating adulthood, from cars to careers to compound mortgages.

At some point along this tumultuous parent-child cycle, we ourselves become adults with the aspiring hope to someday hold as much wisdom as our elders before us. Sure, we’ve come to learn they may not know everything, but the gifts of knowledge they impart upon us over the years is massive. One of the benefits of becoming an adult ourselves is being able to begin to repay our parents for all that kindness with a little bit of our own learned expertise.

For many parents, seniors, and elderly individuals in the latter years of their life, technology can be intimidating. The constantly changing and always updating nature of everything from cameras to computers frequently keeps older generations from reaping the benefits offered by some of today’s newest tech innovations.

Thankfully, this is an area where your skills and smarts can teach Mom and Dad a thing or two. Here’s how to teach your elderly loved ones how to use a cell phone.

Pick the Proper Device

Today’s cell phones come in all shapes and sizes, from the latest and greatest camera/video/tablet hybrids to the simple, standard phone-only options that started it all. There are flip phones and smartphones, touch screen phones and keypad phones. You can even find a senior cell phone designed specifically for older populations!

The first step in teaching your elderly loved one how to use a cell phone is by outfitting them with one that’s just right for their level of need and use. Too complicated a phone and it might overwhelm them, inhibiting or discouraging them from using it.

On the contrary, some cell phone-savvy parents end up using their phone more than their offspring. An overly outdated model might likewise be a bad fit. Explore the options available with your best cell phone provider and determine which phone and its potential capabilities are best for your older family members.

Make It Simple, Make It Clear

Introducing a cell phone into your elderly one’s life shouldn’t be overwhelming. Strive to make the process as clear and easy as possible. Avoid using “tech speak” and complicated terminology that they may be unfamiliar with. It’s highly unlikely that if your parent is a cell phone novice that he or she will understand terns like “3G” or “IMAP”, so stick to simple, everyday language to describe things.

Likewise, keep the apps to a minimum in the beginning. Start slow and gently guide them through how to operate basic functions like volume, power, making and answering calls, and so forth before introducing helpful apps you think they might like.

Encourage Practice & Share Progress

Make the introduction of a cell phone a dual adventure. There’s always something new to learn when it comes to cell phones, so share your tips and tricks and make the entire experience one of equal exchanges of information.

Consider Classes

Elderly adults over the age of sixty-five typically have more time on their hands than the younger generations before them. Once parents enter into retirement, their schedules are a lot more welcoming of activities and hobbies, be it backgammon or bridge, cards, or quilting.

Affording your senior family members with the opportunity to meet new people while learning something new in the form of a technology-focused class is a great way to educate them on cell phone usage. Service providers, cell phone manufacturers, and even local community centers often offer free open-to-the-public introductory classes on phones, so see what’s available and sign your senior up!

Be Patient and Give Them Praise

Learning something new is not easy, whether you’re eight years old or eighty. For those individuals who’ve become so set in their ways with age, picking up a new skill will take ample time and energy. Try not to get frustrated with your elderly family members as they begin to use their cellular devices. Recognize their achievements and remember the days when they were so patient with you as you learned how to eat your first meal, ride your first bike, or parallel park your first car.

Contact qualified service providers for more tips on educating your seniors on smartphones to finding the best unlimited data plans and the cheapest unlimited cell phone plans.

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