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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Computer Usability for Older Adults: Tips for Making Things Easier

The population of older adults using computers is growing more than any other age group. Unfortunately, with age usually comes a decrease in finger dexterity as well as vision – two key aspects of using a computer. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to overcome these obstacles to allow for an enjoyable computing experience.

One of the problems seniors often come across is double clicking – something that, by default, is necessary to open files and folders. Either the mouse will move between clicks, or the clicks are not quick enough. There are two easy ways to solve this. The first involves adjusting the required double-click speed – slowing this will make it easier to double-click. To adjust this setting:

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Open the Mouse settings
  3. Under Double-click Speed, move the slider toward “slower”

The other solution is to turn files and folders into single-click objects. To do this:

  1. Open an Explorer Window
  2. In the Tools menu, select “Folder Options”
  3. Select “Single click to open an item”

For more help navigating with a mouse, you might consider purchasing a trackball device as an alternative to a standard mouse. This allows one to leave the cursor on an object, and then click, as opposed to trying to hold the mouse still, while clicking.

Typing is another aspect of computing that can be made easier. Sometimes there might be trouble with holding down a key too long, causing it to be repeated unintentionally. This can be adjusted through the keyboard’s Repeat Delay setting. To adjust this setting:

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Open the Keyboard settings
  3. Under Repeat Delay, move the slider towards “Long”

Lastly, Windows has several other accessibility features built in, such as a magnifier and a text reader, which are particularly useful for those who are visually impaired. These features can be accessed through the Control Panel. In Windows XP, this is simply called “Accessibility.” In Windows Vista and Windows 7, this is called “Ease of Access Center.”

The following links provide more information about the accessibility features of Microsoft Windows:

Windows XP:
Windows Vista:
Windows 7:

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