Teach An Elderly Person How To Email, Browse The Web & More With Eldy

Ads by Google

how to teach the elderly computersThere are more than 6 million people over the age of 60 who aren’t familiar with the Internet, which is understandable since most operating systems available out there just aren’t exactly geared towards the elderly. There are things that will take some time to get used to, things like file browsers that hint at lots of folders that you’ll never touch and sometimes even cryptic error messages that don’t help much in resolving a problem.

The Eldy Association is an Italian non-profit organization looking to make it easier for new computer users to learn about email, browsing the web and more. According to its website, the Association’s goal is to “reach out to the elderly and disabled community with a simple computer program that can encourage their staying active and social, thus reducing their isolation and loneliness”.

What Is Eldy?

The resulting computer program that the Eldy Association came up with is Eldy, a bundle of essential programs in a easy-to-understand interface for the elderly, with big text and simple, recognizable icons, that has been translated to 22 languages. Think of it as a blown-up mini-operating system that contains an email client, chat system, web browser and even access to a simplified version of Notepad, Eldy TV, and Skype.

Installing Eldy

Though it’s like an operating system, you can install (and uninstall) Eldy like any other program. I should mention that although Eldy is available for Windows and Linux, the version for Mac is actually in beta. After you install the version for your OS, it will ask you a few questions so you can set up your own email account and profile/username for the chat system.

how to teach the elderly computers

Here is where you get the chance to set up your own email account if you know the POP3 or IMAP settings in the “expert” route, but it can also set you up with a brand new @eldy.org email address in the “beginner” route.

Ads by Google

computers for the elderly

What Eldy Lets You Do With Ease

Once you’re done answering those, you get The Square.

Here, you can clearly see what programs to use to perform a task. You can check your mail, browse the web, chat, and watch TV. You will have the Back button available anywhere you go for easy access to a page back or to the Square. On my Windows Vista machine, Eldy ran pretty smoothly and the experience was nice and snappy.

The email client provides simple instructions to do the basics, either read your mail, write an email or see your contacts.

computers for the elderly

I noticed that when you write an email though, a link to Eldy’s website gets appended, which may not be a bad thing as it could help your fellow senior friends learn about this easy-to-use tool.

The web browser is also easy to use with a main portal (or homepage) where you can see bookmarks you’ve set. You can adjust the font size using a slider with magnifier icons.

computers for elderly

In the chat area, you can choose to join a public chatroom to meet new people or chat with friends on the Eldy network.

computers for elderly

If you need more features, like video chatting, you can use Skype, which is under Useful Tools in the Square.

computers for elderly

You can also edit your profile and detail what you are doing, which would be like tweeting or posting a status update.

computers for the elderly

You can watch Eldy TV which means you basically get access to Hulu, YouTube, Fancast and the like. Under Useful Tools, you get access to Notepad (since you probably won’t need a full office suite), Skype like I mentioned before, and a document browser, where you can select images and files to view and delete.

how to teach the elderly computers

There’s no program to help users practice their typing, which could be very useful. Overall though, Eldy is an excellent tool for seniors to learn how to use simple computer programs. Not only that, Eldy has even made things extremely easy for anyone that actually wants to show and teach a senior how to email, chat, etc.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are also programs geared for children. If you want to teach your kid, for example, a fun way to learn the alphabet, there are games just for that. Want to teach them how to type? Here are 3 excellent websites. Want to teach them computer languages? There is Scratch. There are many educational websites to keep kids happy.

Do you know of any other programs that facilitate tasks for new computer users?  Or have you been trying to teach an elderly person how to use the Internet? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments!

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Best Linux Apps
Best Linux Apps
7 Members
Linux for New Switchers
Linux for New Switchers
10 Members
Linux Distros Talk
Linux Distros Talk
4 Members
Master the Linux Command Line
Master the Linux Command Line
6 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (26)
  • Oldgoat1957

    Both Eldy and Mavis look quite promising. If I had an older relative, I’d feel more comfortable at least trying an installable program, rather than investing in one of those “old folk computers” you sometimes see from various manufacturers.

    I am over 50 myself, but have worked in the tech field for years and so am comfortable around most hardware and software. The trick is, I think, if you can get someone to see that the computer can provide something they are interested in (like keeping in touch with their kids/grandkids), then they should be that much more inclined to make the effort to learn. This type of software may just make the difference, by lowering the bar enough for some folks to “jump in”.

    Good stuff, thanks!

    • Jessica Cam W.

      That’s very true. My grandpa from China learned to use Skype to communicate
      with us! From there, he learned to play Chinese chess with other online
      players. As long as there’s someone there to guide them at first, and some
      incentive to learn, anyone can get started, no matter how complicated a
      piece of technology seems.

  • Jessica Cam W.

    That’s very true. My grandpa from China learned to use Skype to communicate
    with us! From there, he learned to play Chinese chess with other online
    players. As long as there’s someone there to guide them at first, and some
    incentive to learn, anyone can get started, no matter how complicated a
    piece of technology seems.

  • Oldgoat1957

    Both Eldy and Mavis look quite promising. If I had an older relative, I’d feel more comfortable at least trying an installable program, rather than investing in one of those “old folk computers” you sometimes see from various manufacturers.

    I am over 50 myself, but have worked in the tech field for years and so am comfortable around most hardware and software. The trick is, I think, if you can get someone to see that the computer can provide something they are interested in (like keeping in touch with their kids/grandkids), then they should be that much more inclined to make the effort to learn. This type of software may just make the difference, by lowering the bar enough for some folks to “jump in”.

    Good stuff, thanks!

  • Jessica Cam W.

    That’s a very good point about general application design. I hope more people see your post and keep new users & usability in mind.

    Linux isn’t as user-friendly as Windows is though. Wouldn’t learning a whole new OS and its quirks be complicated as well? I understand though. I also have an HP system (tablet PC) that goes out of whack sometimes, while other times, I’m truly a satisfied user.

    I’ve had my share of experience trying to teach my mom and grandfather things over Skype. I think they have both been able to grasp certain concepts only if they spend a lot of time doing/learning a few things at once. It might be hard to resist suggesting new things, but I feel like it’s easier to get additional concepts after they’ve become very comfortable with some preliminary tasks.

    Good luck with everything!

  • Jim Eubanks

    Eldy and Maavis both look promising. I’ve been trying to get my mom to understand basic surfing and email for more than a decade. I’ve bought her three computers, a basic PC, an early iMac, and the latest is an HP Touchsmart (which is sadly very unstable). I’ve bought her several well-written, simple books, and spent some hours tutoring her. She is smart, but computer phobic and tends not to remember computer operations well, even with notes. She is also not coordinated with a mouse which is why I bought her a trackball and a touchscreen computer. I’ve been cursing OS designers for many years regarding their obtuse designs. Website designers are at fault too. These designers emphasize style (meaning flash and bling) over intuitive and functional design. I’m going to give it another try with these products, and see if Linux might be more stable than Windows on the Touchsmart since it appears both of these products are Linux compatible. Thank you Jessica and Whitingx for bringing these to my attention.

    • Jessica Cam W.

      That’s a very good point about general application design. I hope more people see your post and keep new users & usability in mind. Linux isn’t as user-friendly as Windows is though. Wouldn’t learning a whole new OS and its quirks be complicated as well? I understand though. I also have an HP system (tablet PC) that goes out of whack sometimes, while other times, I’m truly a satisfied user.I’ve had my share of experience trying to teach my mom and grandfather things over Skype. I think they have both been able to grasp certain concepts only if they spend a lot of time doing/learning a few things at once. It might be hard to resist suggesting new things, but I feel like it’s easier to get additional concepts after they’ve become very comfortable with some preliminary tasks. Good luck with everything!

Load 10 more
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.