Is technology good for your brain?
My grandfather, Poppy, sold the first Cash Registers for the National Cash Register company and that was a HUGE step for technology. Today, cash registers are hardly used. My grandfather struggled with changes in technology but he always made an effort to use it. I remember his first e-mail was “FirorBall” (our last name is pronounced “fire”). Side note: I thought this was so creative that I mimicked it with my pre-teen screen name.
He would call me and ask me how to send an e-mail and I’d step him through it. At that time, he was in his 70s and 80s. I never appreciated his desire to learn more about technology until now.
I am young, intelligent, hardworking, and I have great common sense. However, I can’t work a new treadmill at the gym without giving it a few tries. When my iPhone updates I need a moment to learn how to use it. I’m an apple girl all the way but what if they stopped making phones and I had to switch to an Android? I may lose it! I now consider taking classes on how to work new technology. Certain social media concepts are foreign to me and I need the help and explanation on understanding it from my Social Media Marketing Intern. Ladies and Gents, at the ripe age of 28 I AM FEELING OLD. (Don’t roll your eyes just yet).
What does this all mean?
As we age, we begin to learn differently. When we used to associate names with words or memories, or sing a song to remember something (A B C D E….) we start to learn and remember things a different way: REPETITION.
While it may take more time to learn new technology and you may be tempted to hand it off to someone else to manage, giving up on learning new technology all together is a bad idea, though.
Poppy lived a long life and he was more cognitively healthy than he was physically healthy. While there is conflicting research to support brain exercises improves cognition, you will find some experts who swear by it. I’m in the middle. In my opinion, it can’t hurt and it can provide additional opportunities for socialization, especially if one is taking classes with others.
Dementia and Technology
Keep in mind that people with dementia also learn through repetition. While they may not be able to learn complex technologies, they are able to learn routines. As a matter of fact, routines become very important to someone with dementia. Don’t expect that they will learn how to operate the latest iPhone, but they may be able to learn to use the iPad for certain activities in the short term. If you’re attempting to have someone with dementia use technology you must be patient and dedicate the time it takes to helping them get started. You may even have to re-teach them each time they use it. Once they learn to use specific apps, it can be very calming and engaging for them. I recommend a few general applications for my clients with Dementia:
-Meditation apps like OMG. I can Meditate!
-Musical Apps like Musical Paint
-Games/Puzzle apps like Flow Free
-Coloring apps like Recolor
Benefits of technology
After my Poppy passed away, I really enjoyed being able to look back at those e-mails and giggle about the messages he sent knowing that I was on the phone with him. The memory has served a great therapeutic purpose and was something great we could share together, even at the age of 12 when I was trying to teach him how to use a mouse over the phone! It will always be one of my favorite memories. So if nothing else, attempting to learn technology will be a great memory for those involved. Just a few (a very few) benefits of technology include:
- More opportunities for socialization
- Ability to connect with long distance family members
- Ability to connect with family members who are teaching you
- Making memories that can be shared forever
- Connecting to the world in a new way and being a part of what will one day be “history”
- Potentially improving brain health
- Ability to identify new ways to simplify your life and encourage independence
If you’re interested in Technology Lessons, check out Tech-Moxie, LLC They’re doing great work in the DC/MD/VA area with adults of all ages and abilities! Their website also has great technology resources and suggestions.
Please share your personal experiences with technology! We can all learn from others on how to maximize the benefit of technology!