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Make technology easier for senior adults to enjoy
Many seniors can adopt technology to improve or enhance their quality of life.
Seniors (and others) can use an iPad to keep their minds sharp by playing Sudoko while waiting at the doctor’s office. Or iPads can be set up to remind them of scheduled activities or when to take medications. Home computers can be used to chat with grandchildren via Skype or to reconnect with old military buddies through Facebook or email.
A key barrier for many senior citizens wanting to use technology is the inability to see the monitor or smartphone display.
There are several different ways to make the display larger on your monitor screen. First, adjust your screen resolution. If you are using the Windows XP operating system, right-click on the desktop and in the pop-up menu, left-click Properties. Left-click the Settings tab. Find the Screen Resolution box and left-click on the arrow that rests between Less and More. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the arrow toward the “less” side. The two most common screen resolutions for increased visibility are 1024x768 (large) or 800x600 (largest). Once you find the desired screen resolution, left-click Apply and OK.
Turning on the high-contrast option changes the background to black and the text to white to make it easier to read. To turn on high contrast, simply press the following keys at the same time: Alt+left shift+Print Screen. A window will appear and ask if you want to turn on high contrast; left-click OK. Press the same three buttons again to turn high contrast off.
Another simple tool for those who like to surf the web is to remember that pressing the control key and the plus-sign key simultaneously will increase the size of the text on the website. Pressing the control key and the minus sign will minimize the size of the text. For other handy tips and tricks for making your computer more accessible, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/.
The mouse also can be frustrating for seniors because it sometimes seems to have a mind of its own. First, make sure the mouse is on a clean, even surface. If using a mouse pad, make sure your mouse pad is oversized so you have enough room to move the mouse comfortably.
If left-click and right-click are confusing, consider placing a green sticky flag on the left mouse button and a red sticky flag on the right mouse button. This is an easy way to remember that if you left-click on something you are “going” somewhere, whereas if you right-click you are stopping for more menu options.
If finding the mouse pointer on the screen is a problem, consider using the control key to find it. Left-click on the start menu, then left-click Control Panel in the pop-up window. Locate the Mouse Properties icon and double left-click on it. Check the box next to “show location of pointer when I press the control key.” Left-click Apply and OK. If your cursor disappears on your screen, simply press the control key and it will make a bull’s-eye around your cursor so that you can locate it.
When using technology, remember that it is a tool like any other. A cross-stitch pattern does not come to life overnight, nor does a saw make a cabinet by itself. It takes time and a few false starts; the key is not to give up or get frustrated. Make technology work for you.