50PlusPC teaches tech­nol­ogy to se­niors

Montreal Times - - News -

AWest Is­land re­tiree has just cel­e­brated her 4th year in busi­ness help­ing se­niors learn about tech­nol­ogy. Mon­ica Rei­der, of Dol­lard des Ormeaux, has al­ways had a knack for un­der­stand­ing elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and al­ways en­joyed teach­ing peo­ple. Now she of­fers train­ing ses­sions for Face­book, Skype, smart­phones, com­put­ers, Macs and iPad at her clients’ own homes. She wants her clients to en­hance their life­styles with their (new) de­vices. If a client doesn’t own a par­tic­u­lar de­vice, she will bring hers for them to try and prac­tice on.

How­ever, per­haps most im­por­tantly, Rei­der who is 66 refers to her­self as a ju­nior se­nior is close to the age of many of her clients. “I am not in­tim­i­dat­ing to se­niors,” as she puts it. “They feel re­as­sured once I start work­ing with them. We un­der­stand stand each other”. Her clients gen­er­ally range in age from their 60s to early 90s.

“I start by ask­ing ques­tions, see­ing what my clients’ needs are. I lis­ten to them. I lis­ten to what they want to know. Why must they wait for a course to come along with an abun­dance of in­for­ma­tion that is, frankly, use­less to them. They don’t need to know the in­tri­ca­cies of a com­puter, they just want to email, chat, or even play games like soli­taire. I show them, step by step. I don’t do it for them. It’s im­por­tant that they do it for them­selves. Ev­ery­thing is writ­ten out and we go over it as many times as nec­es­sary un­til they can com­fort­ably man­age on their own and feel in­de­pen­dent. Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent. Ev­ery­one works at their own pace.”

“Some­times when younger peo­ple try show­ing us how to use tech­nol­ogy, they have lit­tle pa­tience or un­der­stand­ing. The young ones were born into this com­puter world, we weren’t, and they some­times for­get that im­por­tant fact. For them it’s 2nd na­ture, for us it’s a whole new learn­ing process. I’m a ‘Hands on’ per­son and know how im­por­tant it is. I show peo­ple and guide them so that they can do this on their own.”

It is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to cope with mod­ern elec­tronic tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for both busi­ness and so­cial rea­sons. Rei­der points to on­line bank­ing as an im­por­tant fea­ture that many se­niors are un­fa­mil­iar with.“It’s a great feel­ing; it’s lib­er­at­ing when you don’t need to go out in bad weather, or just don’t feel up to it, to be able to get into your bank­ing on­line.” she notes.

Rei­der can also show how to sell un­wanted items the mod­ern way, via elec­tronic no­tice boards such as Craigslist and Ki­jiji, help­ing clients to de-clut­ter and per­haps also bring­ing in some ex­tra cash at the same time. Mak­ing pur­chases on­line via E-bay and Pay­Pal is also be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

“But the big­gest push for se­niors is com­ing from want­ing to keep in touch with their fam­i­lies and friends.Young peo­ple to­day pre­fer to com­mu­ni­cate on­line by Face­book, Twit­ter and email; let­ter writ­ing is al­most a lost art.” She also notes that Canada Post has phased out home mail de­liv­ery as an­other rea­son to get aboard with elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“Long dis­tance tele­phone com­mu­ni­ca­tions can be car­ried out eas­ily and at no cost via Skype, Mes­sen­ger, FaceTime etc. Learn­ing about elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions is es­pe­cially per­ti­nent for many Mon­treal se­niors whose fam­i­lies have moved away from Que­bec. These new skills help to keep se­niors in touch and break the iso­la­tion.”

“Smart phones can also be in­tim­i­dat­ing for some users. I had one client who bought such a phone for emer­gency use, but never used it, never turned it on, not even once for an en­tire year. She was em­bar­rassed to ad­mit she didn’t know how to use it. She is not alone. I can show peo­ple how to use these things...”

Rei­der jokes about how her hus­band al­ways used to call for her when­ever the fam­ily TV or VCR ma­chine wasn’t work­ing prop­erly, and how she was able to quickly solve the is­sue. To sup­ple­ment her knack with new tech­nol­ogy, she has taken var­i­ous cour­ses at the Cum­mings Cen­tre,The West Is­land Ca­reer Cen­tre, and at John Ab­bott Col­lege in re­cent years. Rei­der also tends to be one of the con­sumers who rushes to buy the lat­est tech­nol­ogy just so she can stay abreast of the new­est de­vel­op­ments.

Back in 2013 Rei­der had im­pressed the Que­bec gov­ern­ment enough to merit re­ceiv­ing a new busi­ness start-up grant.

“I go to my clients’ place of res­i­dence to show them how to use their new tech­nol­ogy. I have clients over the city, West Is­land, in NDG, Cote St Luc, Park Ex­ten­sion, Ver­dun and down­town. There’s a one hour min­i­mum with my ser­vices. Pay­ment can be made by cash, cheque, In­terac eTrans­fer or credit card. Some clients even like the idea that they get points from us­ing their credit cards”.

Mon­ica can be reached at 514-830-9156 and at mon­ica@50PlusPC.ca

We teach se­niors; we em­power them!

Mon­ica Rei­der from 50PlusPC on the left

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