Seniors with Smartphones Need Classes

By January 19, 2015News

BlueHair Technology was quoted in a great article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Sunday, January 18th.  If you missed it – here is the article.  And, visit our website for more information!

Classes, apps make using new technology easier.

By Laura Berrios For the AJC

Executive Director, Jane Ratliff, showing seniors how to take pictures with their Apple iPad

Executive Director, Jane Ratliff, showing seniors how to take pictures with their Apple iPad

OK, you talked your senior parents or grandparents into getting one of those expensive smart-phones for Christmas, but now you need to teach them how to use it.

You can go it alone, or let the experts do it. There are workshops for a fee, and even some free classes you can sign up for that will help explain an Apple or an Android. First and foremost, it is a phone — but yet it’s so much more.

“Most of them probably got the phone because their children or grandchildren thought it was a good idea, but they don’t yet realize it’s not just a phone,” said Debra Brazell, operator of Caring Senior Service, an in-home care provider. Brazell is teaching classes on iPhones and Androids this month through the Cobb County Senior Services.

Most don’t realize that it’s really a computer they can hold in their hands, said Matthew Dixon, store leader with A Wireless, a premium service for Verizon Wireless. He also teaches smartphone workshops for seniors.

“Seniors know they have technology in their hands, but unfortunately, they haven’t been provided the tools on how to use the technology,” Dixon said.

In his experience, seniors can grasp the concepts pretty quickly, especially with an iPhone. He said the iPhones are easier to use, and in general, seniors adapt to smart-phones quicker than they do to computers.

“I’ve noticed they really want to get into the technology,” he said.

Increasingly, they’re being forced to accept these mobile devices whether they want to or not, observed Jane Ratliff, founder of BlueHair Technology Group. The Johns Creek nonprofit provides workshops to educate seniors on using iPhones and iPads.

While attending the 2015 International CES conference in Las Vegas, Ratliff said she was seeing more emerging technologies being tied to health care. Digital devices allow patients to self-monitor certain symptoms like blood pressure or heart rates and send the results directly to their physicians through their smart-phone. This will change the way seniors view and use smartphones in the future, Ratliff said.

“For those who didn’t want to get into (technology) initially, this will be what pushes them into it,” she said.

For now, most seniors would just like to better communicate with their family and friends, Dixon observed. They want to learn text messaging, receive and send photos, surf the Web and participate in social media, just like the rest of the world.

AARP Georgia hosted free workshops in December. Associate State Director Tobias Tillmon leads the sessions and said more are coming for this year. Specific dates and locations have not yet been set.

Dixon also covers apps in his workshops. Those for weather and GPS are especially popular among older adults, he said.

When teaching seniors on your own, the key is to start with the basics, taking nothing for granted, Ratliff said. The on/off button is as important as anything else. Also, pare down instructions to the top three things they want to do with the phone. Limit the teaching to one hour, then give them time to practice, Ratliff suggests.

You may also want to rephrase directions two or three different ways until they understand, and repeat them often, Brazell said.

Call us at 770-696-9808 or visit us at www.BlueHairTech.Org to find out more.

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