BEHIND THE SCENES TECHNOLOGY
With apps and interfaces that change daily, even the most tech-savvy among us can experience frustration with programs and devices. However, the group that often has the toughest time adjusting are technology-wary senior citizens. One local woman has made it her mission to make technology safe and accessible for seniors.
The Senior Tutor
When Marianne Bailey’s daughter was born, Bailey, of Kettering, was excited to share pictures of her new baby with her own mom. However, there was one problem: Bailey’s mother didn’t use email, and the expense of mailing prints was adding up. “I gave her one of my older computers and started teaching her how to use email. When she refused, I told her if she didn’t learn to check email, she wasn’t going to see pictures of her only grandchild. She told me it was blackmail,” Bailey said, laughing. “I agreed. It worked. She now loves her laptop.” From there, Bailey said, “Every time I went to Florida to visit, her friends started hitting me up for computer lessons. As a former Hewlett-Packard rep, I knew I loved teaching technology. It just kind of evolved into what I’m doing now.”
Bailey is now The Senior Tutor and has taught classes, workshops and private lessons to hundreds of seniors in the Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus areas. In general, she says, her students, “tend to want to learn simple things: email, Facebook. They don’t jump around from fad to fad.” Bailey strives to get her students well grounded in the essentials.
How to help
One of Bailey’s biggest pieces of advice to seniors wanting to branch out and try new technology is to create a cheat sheet when learning the new skill. These sheets can be particularly useful if memory issues are causing some of the person’s frustration with device use. “They need to have something in hand,” Bailey said. “A person doesn’t want to look up help on the computer if they’re already frustrated with the computer.” She also explained that having steps written out leads to fewer calls for tech help from seniors to adult children. Bailey also suggested that seniors start out with smaller devices such as smartphones, tablets or Google’s Chrome-book. “These are ideal for se niors,” she said. “They’re light, they update themselves and no virus protection is needed.”
A big area of concern for seniors who use technology is safety. Anyone can fall prey to scammers and con artists, but, according to information provided by the FBI, a variety of factors such as large “nest eggs” and perceived stereotypes of the demographic, seniors are far more likely to be scammed. “I teach a class called Senior Online Safety at senior homes, senior centers and other public venues,” Bailey said. “It teaches a group of seniors how to not post their location, being careful about giving away telltale signs about their family members that make them susceptible to people who prey on and scam seniors, making strong passwords, among other things that keep them and their tech nology safe.” Bailey gave the example of instructing her students not to post which schools their grandchildren attend or to repeatedly check-in on Face-book, indicating that they have been out of the house for a long period of time. She also cautioned that seniors be especially wary of emails with offers that seem too good to be true. These are often scams designed to capture bank account and other personal information.
Technology can help seniors stay safe another way. If a senior learns to use Skype, Bailey said, “Skype has an auto answer feature. You can set up a laptop, so if the person falls and someone calls to check in once a day, Skype will automatically answer.”
In the future, Bailey is hoping to obtain sponsorships for her business so that she’s able to provide more classes free of charge. She explained that a free class can make all the difference in choosing to sign up, especially for people on fixed incomes or worried about paying for medicine or groceries. Bailey is also getting ready to launch her newsletter, The Hip Senior, which she will make available in local businesses and senior centers. The newsletter includes a variety of information relevant to seniors, including tech tips. “There are so many things for seniors to use technology for, and it only takes a little bit of learning to make those dreams real for them.”
Marianne Bailey of Kettering is the owner/ operator of The Senior Tutor, which helps tech-wary senior citizens.
What: Technology lessons for seniors Cost: $35/hour private lessons or contact for group rates Where: Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati and surrounding areas. Trip fee may apply. More info: For information about lessons, sponsorships or The Hip Senior, go online to The Senior Tutor’s website at www.theseniortutor.com or email theseniortutor@gmail. com .