The aging of the baby boomer generation presents a new dilemma for our society. Those who are considered elderly now are pretty much the first generation who have utilized computer technology as part of their daily lives. And we know that technology moves at a very fast pace. Couple that fact with the deterioration of the mind in varying degrees as we age, and there can be problems. These problems can be anywhere from minor frustrations to serious financial devastation.
I write this article as someone who has helped many elderly people with computers and other technology. While Skyline focuses mainly on small business technology, we have a small number of residential clients as well, and a good number of those are in the older generation. They are some of the most appreciative clients we have. I have a lot of experience in this arena, and there are some things that need to said to the family of the elderly who use technology.
They Need Help
If they are going to use technology and have difficulty resolving their own issues, they need someone who can help them do what they need to do. If someone considers a basic task like resetting a forgotten a password difficult, then imagine the other computer tasks that they will require assistance for. I know, some in the younger generations have trouble with resetting passwords too! 😂
They Need to Be Secure
Threat actors dupe people of all ages with phishing and other scams, so it is no wonder that our oldest generation of technology users often fall victim to these criminals. These situations can range from a minor annoyance that has to be cleaned up, to letting someone into their bank account. Browsing the internet without settings to prevent access to dangerous websites is where many of these problems come from. Then there are passwords, the elderly are by no means the only ones reusing passwords, but they are some of the worst offenders. They need to use MFA (multi-factor authentication).
Then there is email, where most cyber-attacks originate. In a business environment, we have a lot more tools to secure and protect email that are not options for consumers at home. Additionally, the elderly are often using old ISP (internet service provider) accounts or AOL mail. While still lacking, gmail or outlook.com will typically provide better filtering.
Helping Them Takes Time
Without prearranged remote access, just establishing a remote connection to help our friends in the older generation can take an inordinate amount of time. Support calls can just be longer than with the average computer user: cleaning up issues that have been exacerbated by security problems, having to go through password resets, a computer application that hasn’t been updated, an incredibly outdated computer, going over basic things in more detail or repeating them. Please understand, I am not complaining, only explaining! We bill by the hour unless someone has a service contract, so it can be costly.
They Need Someone They Can Trust
If someone besides a family member is going to help elderly people with IT support, it needs to be someone with a good reputation who is trustworthy. Better, more experienced technicians are going to cost more. As of writing this, my hourly rate is $150 and that is appropriate for someone with my certifications and experience. More than being good, however, is being trustworthy when it comes to helping the elderly with their IT services.
The bottom line… What The Elderly’s Kids/Family Need to Know
Unless it is time to take away the keyboard, your elderly family member will likely need someone to help them with their computer technology — maybe a little, maybe a lot. If it isn’t going to be you or a family friend, then they must get a professional of some kind, even if it is a service like the Geek Squad. Professional services cost money. Most IT professionals I know that work with elderly clients don’t like sending a costly invoice to an elderly person, but we are running a business.
When To Take Away The Keyboard
Like taking away the car keys, removing computer technology from the life of an elderly person is a very difficult thing to do. They have to experience another loss of freedom. Clearly, you want them to have the appropriate amount of technology as long as possible. Maybe a change of device type is the solution — moving from a computer an iPad perhaps. In other cases, changing settings or removing certain features or applications might be the right move. You know your elderly family member’s abilities and needs the best. It may sound funny, but they would likely benefit from you implementing content filtering like I recommend on my website called Sensible Cyber Parenting, a website I founded to help parents protect their kids online. I guess it can help kids protect their aging parents online too!