5 easy ways Boomers can improve their computer skills


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I often get asked, “How did you learn so much about computers?”

My answer is, “I learned most of my knowledge and skills through online research.”

That answer is often met with blank stares because it seems like such an impossible task. But this week, I’ll teach you 5 easy tips that anyone can follow to become more computer savvy!


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Tip #1: Google it

The first and most important step in becoming computer savvy is to learn how to use Google to your advantage.  It’s important to learn how to correctly pose a question for search, and how to use Google to find your answer.

After a few years of using Google to research different things about technology and computers, you begin to form a solid working knowledge without even trying.

What’s awesome about Google is that there are tons of different ways you can search for something. So no matter what you’re researching, knowing how to find what you’re looking for is a pretty universal skill.

To learn how to get better at Google, check out my episode, How to Use Google Like a Pro. It includes some of my favorite ways to use Google, such as searching for something within a specific date range, from a particular site, or even finding an exact phrase.

If there’s something I don’t know about a computer, the first thing I do is check out the first few hits of a Google search to get some information. For example, when someone gets a specific virus or has a specific problem affecting their computer, a quick search will often show how to resolve it.

After a few years of using Google to research different things about technology and computers, you begin to form a solid working knowledge without even trying.

Tip #2: Just try it

Don’t be afraid to try something on a computer. After all, there is hardly ever an action you can perform on a computer that will permanently break it. That being said, make sure you have back-ups of anything important.

This especially goes for parents with children who show an affinity for computers. If they like to take things apart and put them back together, or they just like to tinker, find a used computer on Craigslist for cheap. This provides a great platform for kids to learn on.

If you don’t have a computer you want to experiment on for fear of breaking it, checkout my episode on creating a virtual computer, How to Use a Virtual Machine. Just a warning though, you will have to use Google!

A virtual machine allows you to mess up anything you want because you can reset it back to any point in time, or just start over. Plus, this can all be done while keeping your actual computer working perfectly.

Tip #3: Read the manual

The first two tips may seem like no brainers to some people, and to others it may seem like not enough guided advice. Either way, you’re in luck. There are free courses for Windows, Apple, and Linux users on the internet.

If you want to get more acquainted with Windows, you can find a ton of tutorials and other learning material on the Microsoft website. The same goes for Applee, which provides more than enough documentation for you to study. If you want to learn about Linux, there’s a full course on edx.org that is partially narrated by the creator of Linux himself.

For anything else, Eli the Computer Guy provides an awesome series of YouTube videos that covers almost any computer topic you can think of in extreme detail.

A little bit of time and practice with this material and you’ll gain a pretty comprehensive understanding of computers—and it’s all free!

Tips #4: Look for shortcuts

One of the best ways to be tech savvy is to look for shortcuts for everything. It can be as simple as using a keyboard shortcut to open a program or installing software to help you work faster. If you get really good, maybe you can even write your own program that will help you and your coworkers be more productive.

I’ve done two podcast episodes on keyboard shortcuts and how much time they save (one for Windows and one for Apple), but this goes for anything with computers. If you run into something that seems fairly repetitive that could be made easier, there’s probably a program for it.

See also: Pogue’s Basics: Tech Shortcuts to Improve Your Life

For example, as an engineer I had to process tons and tons of Excel spreadsheets—checking them for errors and combining them into multiple documents. After two hours, I wrote a program that would check for errors, combine the tables, and even drop them into a report for me.

Shortcuts like that save time and money, and with that time and money, you can learn more. Now you may not be ready to just drop everything and write a program, but look for areas in your life that can be made simpler by a program or a shortcut. (Yes, many of these can be found with a simple Google search).

Tip #5: Help someone

A lot of what I’ve learned about computers came from helping others with their technology problems and questions.

As with any subject, the best way to understand a concept is to teach it to someone else. Plus, you get the added advantage of people asking you questions that you may not have ever thought of, or that you don’t understand as much as you thought you did. In either case, you’ll expand your understanding, help someone in the process, and might even make some money while doing so.

If you’re a tech geek like me, I’d love to know how you learned to be tech savvy and your recommendations on how others can be as well!

Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at quickanddirtytips.com/techtalker.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!


This article originally appeared on Quick&DirtyTips.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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Here’s what 2022 & beyond holds in store for Boomers


Within 10 years, all of the nation’s 74 million baby boomers will be 65 or older. The most senior among them will be on the cusp of 85.

Even sooner, by 2025, the number of seniors (65 million) is expected to surpass that of children age 13 and under (58 million) for the first time, according to Census Bureau projections.

“In the history of the human species, there’s never been a time like [this],” said Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, referring to the changing balance between young people and old.

What lies ahead in the 2020s, as society copes with this unprecedented demographic shift?

I asked a dozen experts to identify important trends. Some responses were aspirational, reflecting what they’d like to see happen. Some were sobering, reflecting a harsh reality: Our nation isn’t prepared for this vast demographic shift and its far-reaching consequences.

Here’s what the experts said.


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Never have so many people lived so long, entering the furthest reaches of old age and becoming at risk of illness, frailty, disability, cognitive decline and the need for personal assistance.

Even if scientific advances prove extraordinary, “we are going to have to deal with the costs, workforce and service delivery arrangements for large numbers of elders living for at least a year or two with serious disabilities,” said Dr. Joanne Lynn, a legislative aide on health and aging policy for Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.).

Experts caution we’re not ready.

“The cost of long-term care [help in the home or care in assisted-living facilities or nursing homes] is unaffordable for most families,” said Jean Accius, senior vice president of thought leadership at AARP. He cited data from the Genworth Cost of Care Study: While the median household income for older adults was just $43,696 in 2019, the annual median cost for a private room in a nursing home was $102,204; $48,612 for assisted living; and $35,880 for 30 hours of home care a week.

Workforce issues are a pressing concern. The need for health aides at home and in medical settings is soaring, even as low wages and poor working conditions discourage workers from applying for or staying in these jobs. By 2026, 7.8 million workers of this kind will be required and hundreds of thousands of jobs may go unfilled.

“Boomers have smaller families and are more likely to enter old age single, so families cannot be expected to pick up the slack,” said Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University. “We have only a few years to plan different ways of providing care for frail older people to avoid disastrous consequences.”


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Could extending “healthspan,” the time during which older adults are healthy and able to function independently, ease some of these pressures?

The World Health Organization calls this “healthy life expectancy” and publishes this information by country. Japan was the world’s leader, with a healthy life expectancy at birth of 74.8 years in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. In the U.S., healthy life expectancy was 68.5 years out of a total average life expectancy of 78.7 years.

Laura Carstensen, director of Stanford University’s Center on Longevity, sees some cause for optimism. “Americans are beginning to exercise more” and eat more healthful diets, she said. And scientific studies published in recent years have shown that behavior and living environments can alter the trajectory of aging.

“With this recognition, conversations about aging societies and longer lives are shifting to the potential to improve quality of life throughout,” Carstensen said.

Other trends are concerning. Notably, more than one-third of older adults are obese, while 28% are physically inactive, putting them at higher risk of physical impairments and chronic medical conditions.

Rather than concentrate on treating disease, “our focus should shift to health promotion and prevention, beginning in early life,” said Dr. Sharon Inouye, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a member of the planning committee for the National Academy of Sciences’ Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge.


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Recognizing the role that social and physical environments play in healthy aging, experts are calling for significant investments in this area over the next decade.

Their wish list: make transportation more readily available, build more affordable housing, modify homes and apartments to help seniors age in place, and create programs to bring young and old people together.

Helping older adults remain connected to other people is a common theme. “There is a growing understanding of the need to design our environments and social infrastructure in a way that designs out loneliness” and social isolation, said Dr. Linda Fried, dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

On a positive note, a worldwide movement to create “age-friendly communities” is taking hold in America, with 430 communities and six states joining an effort to identify and better respond to the needs of older adults. A companion effort to create “age-friendly health systems” is likely to gain momentum.

Technology will be increasingly important as well, with aging-in-place likely made easier by virtual assistants like Alexa, video chat platforms like Skype or FaceTime, telemedicine, robotic caregivers and wearable devices that monitor indicators such as falls, according to Deborah Carr, chair of the sociology department at Boston University.


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Altering negative attitudes about aging — such as a widespread view that this stage of life is all about decline, loss and irrelevance — needs to be a high priority as these efforts proceed, experts say.

“I believe ageism is perhaps the biggest threat to improving quality of life for [older] people in America today,” Harvard’s Inouye said. She called for a national conversation about “how to make the last act of life productive, meaningful and fulfilling.”

Although the “OK Boomer” barbs that gained steam last year testify to persistent intergenerational tension, there are signs of progress. The World Health Organization has launched a global campaign to combat ageism. Last year, San Francisco became one of the first U.S. cities to tackle this issue via a public awareness campaign. And a “reframing aging” toolkit developed by the FrameWorks Institute is in use in communities across the country.

“On the bright side, as the younger Baby Boom cohort finally enters old age during this decade, the sheer numbers of older adults may help to shift public attitudes,” said Robyn Stone, co-director of LeadingAge’s LTSS (long-term services and supports) Center @UMass Boston.


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On the scientific front, Dr. Pinchas Cohen, dean of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California, points to a growing recognition that “we can’t just apply one-size-fits-all guidance for healthy aging.”

During the next 10 years, “advances in genetic research and big data analytics will enable more personalized — and effective — prescriptions” for both prevention and medical treatments, he said.

“My prediction is that the biggest impact of this is going to be felt around predicting dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as biomarker tests [that allow the early identification of people at heightened risk] become more available,” Cohen continued.

Although dementia has proved exceptionally difficult to address, “we are now able to identify many more potential targets for treatment than before,” said Hodes, of the National Institute on Aging, and this will result in a “dramatic translation of discovery into a new diversity of promising approaches.”

Another potential development: the search for therapies that might slow aging by targeting underlying molecular, cellular and biological processes — a field known as “geroscience.” Human trials will occur over the next decade, Hodes said, while noting “this is still far-reaching and very speculative.”


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New therapies spawned by cutting-edge science may be extraordinarily expensive, raising ethical issues. “Will the miracles of bioscience be available to all in the next decade — or only to those with the resources and connections to access special treatment?” asked Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging.

Several experts voiced concern about growing inequality in later life. Its most dramatic manifestation: The rich are living longer, while the poor are dying sooner. And the gap in their life expectancies is widening.

Carr noted that if the current poverty rate of 9% in the older population holds over the next decade, “more than 7 million older persons will live without sufficient income to pay for their food, medications and utilities.” Most vulnerable will be black and Latina women, she noted.

“We now know that health and illness are affected by income, race, education and other social factors” and that inequalities in these areas affect access to care and health outcomes, Pillemer said. “Over the coming decade, we must aggressively address these inequities to ensure a healthier later life for everyone.”


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How will economically vulnerable seniors survive? Many will see no choice but to try to work “past age 65, not necessarily because they prefer to, but because they need to,” Stone said.

Dr. John Rowe, a professor of health policy and aging at Columbia University, observed that “low savings rates, increasing out-of-pocket health expenditures and continued increases in life expectancy” put 41% of Americans at risk of running out of money in retirement.

Will working longer be a realistic alternative for seniors? Trends point in the opposite direction. On the one hand, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that by 2026 about 30% of adults ages 65 to 74 and 11% of those 75 and older will be working.

On the other hand, age discrimination makes it difficult for large numbers of older adults to keep or find jobs. According to a 2018 AARP survey, 61% of older workers reported witnessing or experiencing age discrimination.

“We must address ageism and ageist attitudes within the workplace,” said Accius, of AARP. “A new understanding of lifelong learning and training, as well as targeted public and private sector investments to help certain groups transition [from old jobs to new ones], will be essential.”


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This article originally appeared on Kaiser Health News (KHN), a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. It was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.



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Featured Image Credit: Alina Rosanova / istockphoto.