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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

Don’t get left behind: Getting comfortable with computers as an older caregiver

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June 4, 2017, by Paul Cavanagh, Caregiver Exchange

Knowing how to use the internet – to stay socially connected, learn about health conditions, and navigate the health care system – is an important skill for family caregivers. Older caregivers who are reluctant to use technology are at a distinct disadvantage.
 
A project in Toronto offers to teach older caregivers to use computer tablets so that they won’t be left behind. It’s called Innovation and Training to Reduce Isolation in Caregivers and the Elderly (i-TRICE).
 
“An important part of getting older adults to engage with technology is bringing them together,” says Cheryl Miller, the project manager, who works at the Reitman Centre for Alzheimer's Support and Training (Sinai Health System). Group learning helps people feel less isolated and more socially connected. It also gives them an opportunity to learn alongside people their own age who are newbies just like them.
 
During one of i-TRICE’s two-and-a-half hour digital health forums, 25 to 40 caregivers are introduced to technology basics such as internet safety, social networks, e-learning, online health information, and apps. People wanting an opportunity to practice using a tablet can enrol in a social networking group that meets for one hour every week for eight weeks. Group members can even borrow a tablet to take home. The forums and the network groups are facilitated by the Elder Technology Assistance Group (ETAG), an i-TRICE project partner.
 
“It’s not just about learning the technology,” Miller says. “It’s about learning how to use it to stay connected with family and friends as well as find relevant health information and support services.”
 
Some of Miller’s favourite online resources for family caregivers include
  If you’re not in Toronto, Miller suggests that you seek out a technology or computer literacy program in your community. They won’t necessarily teach how to find relevant and reliable caregiver or health information online, but once you’re comfortable with the technology, you can visit her list of favourite sites above. If you’re interested in finding out when i-TRICE is holding its next digital forum or social networking group, visit the events section of torontocentralhealthline.ca.