Seniors | When the Latest and Greatest Isn’t So Great

Written By: Dr. Cristy Gamez-Galka

We frequently hear from seniors that they received a new computer, but the other one was just “fine” they say. Our older friends share how well intentioned loved ones gift them a new computer, laptop, or phone and they do not know how to use it. They often become frustrated by learning the new arrangement of the keyboard, how to use the touch screen, or navigating new operating systems.

Who would have thought? This is not unusual. No need to feel bad. Across the board, they recognize these purchases are out of love and caring. So what should you do?

Ask questions first.

Does your loved one want a new computer or mobile device?

How do they feel about learning or getting used to new technology?

Think about it, your senior family member may have been through many changes. Can you imagine having to leave your home, being told you cannot drive anymore, and not being able to do the things you used to be able to do?

For example, a friend moved to a different state a few years ago. She is a pro at selling and buying houses across states and doing everything that needs to be done to move and re-establish her family. Her husband wanting to show his gratitude for all she does to make things go smoothly offered to get her a new car. She declined saying she needed one thing to stay the same amidst all the change. Security and comfort of something familiar was of more importance. We all have this tendency. Examples include children who must have a certain stuffed animal, friends who only listen to one type of music and using only your right/left hand to operate your mouse.

Feeling comfortable with familiar things is known as the “exposure effect” or the “familiarity principle”. Research shows this to be true over and over again.

So if you know people dislike unfamiliar things initially and grow to like them takes time or repeated exposure to it, be patient and be the voice of understanding and encouragement as the senior in your life gets used to a new device or way of doing things.


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