Calcutta: Eighty-two-year-old Mallinath Bose got an iPad from his son who stays abroad about three years ago. But Bose found it difficult to use the device to speak to his son, daughter-in-law and grandson.
It was then that a care manager from a company that looks after the elderly taught Bose how to use Skype and video chat with his son and his family.
Bose is happy that he and his wife can now see their son and his family whenever they want to. "We used to talk over the phone. But in Skype we can see them while talking. Santosh (the care manager) not only taught us how to use Skype but also how to fix Wi-Fi problems," Bose said.
The octogenarian's problems in dealing with modern technology are common among the elderly. Technology can bring more convenience and comfort to their lives but many elders do not know how to use it.
An elderly care company has started a programme to train the aged in using tech tools that can take the strain off their daily chores.
"There are so many elderly people who still go to a bank to transfer money. If they can be trained in using Net banking, they can do the same work sitting home. That will save both time and hardship," said Prateep Sen, managing director of Tribeca Care, the company that has started the training.
This is not the first initiative to train the elderly in daily-use technology. South City International School had once held an e-learning programme for grandparents. The south Calcutta school had intended to make the grandparents experts in handling smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
An elderly person said the more such training sessions were held, the better for them. "There are so many elderly people who cannot use smartphones. They will be benefitted if such training programmes can be held at regular intervals," she said.
An expert said lack of knowledge of technology often created a sense of isolation among the elderly. Grandparents often find it embarrassing to depend on their grandchildren to order food online or book a cab.
A 72-year-old man who has retired from an insurance company welcomed such training programmes.
"I have to depend on my son to book me an app cab. I can't figure out how they do it on their phones. If someone teaches me, I can book an app cab myself," he said. "It's a good concept. They should organise camps and train the elderly."
Sen of Tribeca Care said they were trying to introduce the elderly to a few basics of technology. These include how to switch on and off the internet connection on a phone, how to WhatsApp, how to increase the font size of text messages, how to expand a document, how to book a cab and how to use Net banking.
As of now, the company is training only those who are enrolled with them for care services. "We have spoken to some schools so that their students can train their grandparents. We have also spoken to the government and requested them to organise community training programmes," said Sen.