Older People and Computers

There is an old ’50’s song that started out “Got along without you before I met you; gonna get along without you now.” That is the attitude that many older people take when it comes to computers. In many ways, I can’t blame them. As an older person myself, I dislike much of the new electronic stuff. It just seems so complicated! Despite sometimes wanting to throw my laptop across the room, however, now I don’t know how I ever lived without it!

The first reason I started learning how to use a computer was to communicate better with my family members. In the old days, families used to live closer to each other. Often several generations would live in the same house. These days people are scattered around the country, maybe even around the world. My grandchildren live over a thousand miles from my home. With email I can contact them as often as I want without running up a big telephone bill. What is more, I get pictures! Since I bought a printer to hook up to my computer, I can print those pictures out.

Since I live in a rural area where shopping is limited, I have learned to shop on-line. It not only saves my having to drive a distance to buy things, but the variety and availability of goods is so much better on the web. Fortunately I am still able to drive. I’m sure that will change as I get older. Then, I plan to continue to shop on line so I won’t have to feel so dependent on others for rides. I have noted that even some grocery stores allow on-line shopping and home delivery. That will come in handy on of these days.

I also choose to do a lot of business on-line. Most of my income is electronically deposited in my bank and I pay all my bills on line. People ask if I am worried about security. I’m not. I trust the security efforts of most on-line businesses. I deal only with those I know. Personally, I think the web is just as safe as postal delivery. I do my income taxes, insurance and order my medications on line. I have learned to do this over time. It not only saves me gas, but also postage and time.

Finally, I use my computer for entertainment and education. I relax as well as exercise my brain by playing games. I write for some web sites (like Helium) and earn a bit of pocket money. I research and learn new things. I connect with others who share my interests and hobbies. I have talked to people all over the world. I believe these connections and activities keep me young in my attitude and emotions. Even though I am widowed, I have never felt isolated or lonely.

There are certainly things to be aware of in using a computer. If a person does not type, using a computer will be more difficult to learn. Computers are unforgiving, too. If you make a mistake, it will not do what you want it to do. Sometimes you have to figure out how to tell it what you want it to do! They can seem very complicated when you first start. Fortunately, there are books and adult education classes that can help. Most senior citizen centers offer such classes as well as people who will help. Yes, you do hear horror stories about hackers, stolen identities and other violations of privacy. Actually, those are rare when compared to the number of people using computers. You are much safer using a computer than driving your automobile on the highway to the grocery store! If you learn certain habits you can avoid most of the negative things about surfing the web. There are many ways to protect your computer and your privacy.

With age come limitations. I just can’t do some of the things I used to. With my computer I have learned new things to keep me interested and occupied. I have been able to keep up with my own business so far, without have to have assistance. I am able to stay in touch not only with my family, but with the world, so I never feel isolated. To those who have so far refused to get computerized, I say, Get with it! You don’t know what you are missing!