How to Set Up a Windows Computer for Senior Citizens

As technology advances at a rapid pace, it becomes harder for seniors to “break into” the digital age. Windows 10 is a tricky operating system for seniors, especially if they got so used to older Windows iterations like XP or 7. As such, there are a few things you can take care of to ensure they have a stress-free time using their new computer.

Setting up a computer for a senior requires a little thought. First, you have to set up the PC so it can run without much outside influence, which puts less responsibility on the senior to keep things ticking along. It also, hopefully, reduces the amount of phone calls you’ll get for tech support! Secondly, you can set up the operating system to be more friendly to those with accessibility issues.

If you bought a Windows 10 machine that contains bloatware, see if you can get rid of it. A senior may be confused by all the software that’s suddenly shoved in their direction. You’ll want them using tested software that can be easily navigated by a senior, instead of whatever software the manufacturer was paid to include. Strip out the bloatware and replace it with a decent alternative if need be.

windows-virus-alert

The best defence against viruses is careful browsing. For people new to the Internet, however, all it takes is one convincing banner ad or spam email to pop up, and a virus has made its way onto the computer. It’s a good idea to set up an antivirus beforehand, and let the senior know how to use it. Grab a free antivirus to help save on money; there’s plenty of decent free options available that you can set up and leave running in the care of a senior.

It’s always good to ensure the latest drivers are installed and ready to go. Having faulty or old drivers may cause things to go odd, which will confuse a senior and may make them think something is physically broken. Give all the necessary drivers a once-over to avoid any stress.

Now that the operating system is mostly set up and ready to go, it’s a good idea to introduce the senior to Ease of Access. This has some handy tools included to help people with difficulties get the most out of their computer. It includes Narrator (who reads text on the screen) and Magnifier (which blows up an area of the screen for closer inspection). You can also make the cursor larger here for an easier time tracking it.

You could educate them on how to navigate to the Ease of Access panel when they need it, but it’s easier to make a desktop shortcut instead. That way they only need to double-click the icon on the desktop when they want to change something or enable a feature.

To make a shortcut:

1. Click the Start button, type “Ease of Access Center,” and click on “Ease of Access Center” when it appears.

windows-seniors-center

2. At the top in the address bar, click on “Ease of Access.”

windows-seniors-address

3. Within the window, find and right-click “Ease of Access Center,” then click “Create Shortcut.”

windows-seniors-shortcut

Windows 10 will pop up an error message, as it will believe you’re trying to make a shortcut within the Control Panel itself, which isn’t possible. It will, however, suggest a shortcut be made on the desktop, which is exactly what we do want. Say “Yes” to this.

windows-seniors-message

This will create a shortcut on the desktop, so your senior user can quickly and easily get to the Ease of Access settings. From here, they can enable and disable the accessibility features Windows 10 has to offer.

If you have a large monitor or multi-monitor set up, a senior may lose their cursor from time to time. Other than making the cursor bigger or a different color (as done in Ease of Access above), you can also set it so that the cursor will create a “visual ping” when you press Ctrl.

To activate this, click the Start button, type “Control Panel” and click the entry that appears.

windows-seniors-control-panel

If you’re in “Icons view,” click Mouse. If you’re in “Categories view,” click Hardware and Sound, then Mouse under Devices and Printers.

For Icons view, look for this icon:

windows-seniors-icon

For Categories View, perform the following:

windows-seniors-category-first

windows-seniors-category-second

Go to the “Pointer Options” tab, and click “Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key.”

windows-seniors-show-location

Once you OK out of this window, you can press Ctrl to find the cursor.

Ideally, the internet can be set up once and then ignored until a problem arises. If they have a router, do the setup either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet adapter and get it up and running. Once done properly, the user should get Internet access the moment they log on without lifting a finger.

Once the Internet is running, be sure to give them a proper browser! There are plenty of free, secure browsers that help defend the user against web attacks without any additional instruction.  Then, see if it has any useful extensions that can enhance a senior’s life.

Windows 10 can be a little tricky for seniors to use. By adjusting a few settings before handing the computer over, you can make their life a little easier.

What are your favourite tricks for prepping a Windows PC for a senior? Let us know below!

Image credit: Virus Alert Sign by DepositPhotos

Leave a Reply

Yeah! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic! Check out our comment policy here. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.