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Tech if necessary, but not necessarily tech

03 Dec 2011
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times – December 2011

For whatever reason, my brain will not learn the proper name for what I refer to as “the white square with the black squiggly design.”

I have QR codes on my For Sale signs in my real-estate career and I hope others make use of them. I have equipped myself with enough technical knowledge to function well in today’s world, although there is much more to learn if I were so inclined. My approach is on “a need to know basis,” and I am proud to say that I just learned to Tweet for professional purposes.

There are many seniors who enjoy the computer, either to communicate through email or Skype, or for Googling interesting information. Others refuse to learn to use a computer. While I encourage everyone to keep brains (and bodies) active, it is not necessary to use a computer to do so. There is a comfort level in using familiar products and not having to struggle with new technology. This is especially so for some seniors.

I visit many seniors in their homes and see they have not changed appliances or electronics. Their old ones function fine and they can operate them easily after so many years. While their children may buy newer, high-tech items, the senior will often refuse the change.

The QR code is the design at top left. If a picture is taken with a smartphone, the code will bring users directly to the website assigned to the code. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Sandler

I am unwelcoming of phone and cable companies that hire staff to cold-call homes with their sales pitches. They might find a captive audience in a lonely senior who will keep the conversation going and hear about great discounts if they change their cable or phone plan. Who doesn’t want to save $40 a month and receive better service? Some even will agree to a visit from a technician after one of these calls.

But does the person really need an HD box or PVR? Will their familiar channels change even though they will be receiving more of them? Will they ever watch the new channels or simply continue to watch familiar channels that might have different numbers, depending on the new cable service? Their phone number might stay the same and the savings may be real, but if they add their old channels to the new savings package, are they really saving in the end? Will the stress of having to give up familiar channel numbers and having newfangled machines collecting dust be worth the few dollars one might save?

So, before making any appointments after a phone call from a sales rep, try to get as much detail as you can about what changes will occur and ask yourself whether you are ready to give up your familiar ways. It may not be an easy process to revert back to your old system once a technician has made changes.

While I consider switching my comfortable BlackBerry for a new iPhone, I wonder if learning to type on a touchscreen will be worth the stress. My BlackBerry and I had a falling out when the system went down for a few days recently. It was then that I started thinking about starting a new relationship with an iPhone.

While I happen to be one of those people who easily change residences (I am looking for a new home), cars and other material objects, I look at my familiar BlackBerry with mixed emotions. After all, a house is just a house, a car just a car, but a cellphone is my office, social life, home, and so much more—and it fits into the palm of my hand. But I am still not sure whether the learning curve of a change will be worth it. Besides, as with most fights, I am less angry with my BlackBerry as time passes.

Questions? Comments? b.sandler@sympatico.ca
Answers may be used in future articles.


Bonnie Sandler

Residential Real Estate Broker, Housing Consultant for Seniors

514 497-3775