Tech Tutors Turn Seniors Into Silver Surfers

Megan Ray  |  August 1, 2014

Technology continues to revolutionize retirement living, from the way caregivers provide services to the way older adults stay entertained at their retirement community. While many seniors are well-versed with certain devices, others have little to no experience interacting with the various technologies at their disposal.

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 59 percent of all adults over the age of 65 go online, a number that has steadily risen in the past several years. As more seniors join social networks and learn to navigate the vast capabilities of the Web, some have requested specialized training to help further increase their knowledge of the Internet.

Tech tutors have much to teach seniors
While many seniors know how to navigate devices and access basic functions, some are not familiar with the more complex capabilities these pieces of technology may provide. Tech tutors do not merely teach older adults how to turn on devices and access the Internet - many offer services that extend far past the basics of using technology. Since more seniors than ever are already online, they may benefit from advanced tutors who can show older adults how to navigate their preferred devices. 

The Wall Street Journal followed a group of high school students who helped teach older adults how to access the more complex functions of their devices, showing seniors how to make their lives easier with technologies. One older learner, Jerry Thackery, explained that his tutor taught him how to take photos with his cellphone and send them to his children.

"For the kids who are doing this technology, they just pick it up by flipping here and crossing over there, and I go, 'Holy cow!'" the 68-year-old explained to the source. "They seem to have that exploratory skill. I was making it more complicated than it needed to be. I finally abandoned my notepad approach."

Finding the right format 
While Thackery benefited from his teenage tutor, other seniors may be best served by different professionals in this field. There are many community programs geared toward teaching seniors how to make the best of their devices. Certain centers and schools frequently hold classes for older adults, but these courses may vary by skill level. Older adults interested in learning more about technology should thoroughly examine course descriptions, as some may be more introductory and less focused on complex functions. Seniors who want more intensive instruction may benefit by seeking an independent tutor who can work at the person's side and answer any questions as they may arise.