Tech Tips for Seniors: Master Your Devices and Make Tech Work for You

Don’t be afraid of technology, says an expert. 

Technology can be a challenge and extremely overwhelming if you're an older adult — but it doesn't have to be. "It can be hard to keep up with the latest terminology, gadgets, and devices," explains Burton Kelso, The Technology Expert, owner and Chief Tech Expert at Integral.  If you're looking to stay up-to-date with technology in your life, he offers several helpful tips that will help you become a technology pro in no time.

1
Change Your Mindset

A senior woman looking at her remote control while watching TV
iStock

First thing's first: You're never too old to embrace technology. "You may think that technology is only for younger people as it seems that kids are able to pick up a device and use it instantly," Kelso says. The primary reason kids seem to excel at technology? "They are fearless and just keep hitting buttons until they figure things out," he says. "There is a customer that I worked with that is 101 years old and they are able to use FaceTime, send back in fourth text messages, and set up and use their smart TV." He stresses the importance of getting out of your mindset that if you do something wrong on your tech device, you're going to break it. "Technology devices are pretty sturdy, so it will take a lot for you to break your devices."

2
Take Baby Steps

Senior man working at laptop
iStock

Just like Rome wasn't built in a day, you aren't going to learn how to use all your gadgets overnight. "Just baby step the learning process if you want to get more familiar with the technology you use," recommends Kelso. "Pick up a task that you want to achieve, and perform that task on a regular basis." That could be setting up your phone, becoming better at email, or even using tools like ChatGPT and AI. "If you take it one day at a time, you will be a technology expert in no time."

3
Replace Passwords with Passphrases

crossed out passwords on notebook
Shutterstock

Stop the old practice of using passwords and start using passphrases, suggests Kelso. "Young or old, online accounts are hacked because people use the outdated practice of passwords," he explains. "Passphrases keep your account safe because you are creating two unrelated words to make a strong password." He suggests thinking of phrases like stinky turkey or gray, fluffy sheep – things you will remember but would be impossible for a hacker to figure out. "Passphrases work because when you create them, you're not using items that you would use for a password, items that you share on social media that can include criminals to what your pass phrases can be," he adds. If you need help with a passphrase, visit www.useapassphrase.com

4
Smarten Up Your Home

Smart home app
Shutterstock

Smart home devices may seem overwhelming, but they can simplify your life, says Kelso. "Smart home devices such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa can help you stay connected to loved ones as well as helping you," he explains. For example, a Ring doorbell can help you stay safe from strangers who approach your door, while wireless cameras such as Blink camera systems can help you monitor your home and stay safe from intruders. "Also smart home hubs can help you automate your home," he adds. Smart light bulbs allow you to turn light on or off, from wherever you are. Smart thermostats allow you to maintain a constant temperature in your home and help you cut costs on your energy bills. Smart locks can help you ensure that you did not forget to lock your doors and smart home alarm systems can alert the authorities if an intruder breaks in. "Specific smart home devices can allow your younger loved ones to check in on you from time to time to make sure that you are safe and healthy," he adds. 

5
Use Smart Fitness Devices

apple watch on man's wrist
DenPhotos / Shutterstock

Smart fitness devices can save your life. "As you age, you want to try to stay fit and healthy as much as you can. Apps like My Fitness and My Fitness Pal, can help you stay motivated to exercise and eat well. Smart fitness devices, such as Fitbits, Apple, and Samsung watches can  be more involved as far as your overall fitness," Kelso says. These devices can also monitor glucose levels and can monitor your heart. "It's not a replacement for a doctor, but it is a good thing to have handy to make sure that you are having your health monitored. Also smart devices have fall detection so if you take a tumble, it can alert 911 or someone who lives nearby," he adds.

6
Tag Your Belongings

An AirTag is seen being connected to an iPhone. AirTag is a tracking device developed by Apple.
iStock

An unfortunate truth about getting older? We tend to forget where we put things. Luckily, there is an easy way to monitor easily lost items. "Smart tags can help you keep track of those easy to lose items," says Kelso. Smart tags such as Tile, Apple AirTags, and Samsung Galaxy SmartTags can help you keep track of your keys, luggage, wallet, and even pets. "It's as easy as monitoring the app on your smartphone to keep track of those lost items," he explains. "These devices are so smart, they can even alert you if you leave home and you are out of range of an item that has a smart tag attached to them." You can even enable smart tags to track you, allowing loved ones to know your location at all times. 

RELATED: 2 Alternatives That Are Just As Beneficial as Walking 10,000 Steps

7
Don't Be Afraid of AI

artificial intelligence concept
Shutterstock

The emergence of AI and ChatGPT can be a great helper for older adults, explains Kelso. "Sometimes, looking for items on Google can be stressful. But if you were looking for recipes, How-To instructions for DIY projects in and around your home, or just looking for research, go to an AI tool, such as ChatGPT, Google, or Microsoft Bing for research, rather than doing a gazillion Google searches," Kelso says. You can also use AI tools to help you learn a new hobby, good ideas for holiday parties, and even use it to look up gift ideas for birthdays and anniversaries. "AI tools are completely free and designed to help make technology easy for you," he concludes.  

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
Filed Under