Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for my weekly newsletter, "Confident Computing", for more solutions you can use to make your life easier. Click here.

On Aging and Being “Too Old”

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

“I know of octogenarians & nonagenarians that are having the time of their lives with technology.”

Transcript

Show Transcript

94 comments on “On Aging and Being “Too Old””

  1. I enjoyed your video on age.

    I’m learning every day. Maybe I’m not learning as quickly as I used to but nevertheless, I’m still learning. My body is slowing down and so is my processing of information but I do “get there”. I don’t take everything at “face value”. That is something learned and that takes time to develop a critical way of looking at things and you only get that by living.

    Touch screens are not for me. Whatever it is in my “chemistry” the icons sometimes just don’t work for me neither do other touch devices like lamps. I also like a pristine screen. A screen filled with finger prints just doesn’t cut it. That isn’t a product of age for sure. I’ve always been that way.

    I’m 69 and still kicking.

  2. Great article! I spend a lot of time assisting seniors with their computer problems. Quite often more time is spent convincing them “they can – and often already know how to do it,” rather than on the problem itself. I’m too old is often said but doesn’t apply.

  3. I’m definitely not hiding behind my 84 years. I am, technically speaking, an experimenter. I love to try new things and programs. At the present I have 5 computers set up in my computer room, with different OS on them because I still build and repair computers for others, sometimes long distance. I have helped others in 4 continents repair their ailing computers.

    I volunteer in a rehab facility three days a week, sing in my church choir, sing solos, and teach a bible class. You are only as old as you feel, and I tell everyone that I still feel with both hands.

    • Wow! What a busy bee you are. You must have a young mind, and a clever one. You sound to be a wonderful person full of life. If people have interests and a caring attitude for people, like you, what a great world it would be. Keep up the lovely work and energy, and you will live a very long time to come. Bravo to you.

  4. I respectfully disagree in my case since that is the only case I am an expert on. I hope you live to a ripe old age and are able to do the things you do today in technology. I hope your memory is long and accurate so you can learn and retain. Then you’ll be able to remember what you learned and won’t have to relearn it over and over. You’ll remember how to program in a language that you learned way back when. You’ll remember all of the Command Prompt and Check Disk commands and options from memory. I hope you never have any senior moments so that you can remember and never have to relearn it yet again. Good luck. I used to be able to learn and retain (enough to earn a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering). I can no longer do that. When Amazon asks me to review a book, I have to decline because after a few weeks it’s gone. When you asked about one of your books, I would have had to reread it to comment because it’s gone. Everyone’s experience is a little different of course.

    • As I said, there are certainly legitimate situations where there are true neurological and other reasons for decreased ability. My frustration stems from people using that or something similar as an excuse when it is simply not the case for them. Too many people unnecessarily hide behind their age, using it as an excuse and nothing more.

    • I feel your pain sir. I too find that more often than not I tend to forget things.

      However its not just us, its human nature.

      In fact I can tell you that even the most experienced coders will need to brush up their skills if they stop coding completely for more than a year or two. I know what I am saying because it happened to me (around 30 years back.)

      Also please also remember that one solid approach to learning and remembering is to repeatedly practice, whether it is coding or using Photoshop or whatever.

      But even if you do forget, just bear in mind that what you achieved remains a part of you.

      Imagine for instance an 80 year old who climbed a mountain when he was 40.

      Does the fact that he cannot climb that same mountain today in any way diminish any of his earlier success and accomplishment? And can we say that the success did not change him in some deep way? That inside he does not still possess the same courage (albeit the body is now no longer up to it)? That the mind set and stubborn will that drove him to overcome challenges is not still there?

      At the end of the day, I see our memory as just like the hard drive in a computer. As it fails our body compensates so that today our “processor” is faster and our “RAM” more capable. Yes we may have to swap out RAM when learning new things, but that fine and one can after all always keep a notebook to remember the detail.

      My final tip is to keep exercising the mind; in my case I am a Sudoku addict for instance, and also do online jigsaws on occasion.

      As long as your “processor” stays good, you will always be able to function.

      Hope that helps.

      John
      P.S. I just graduated from University for the 5th time last December. And if I can do it anyone can. Just keep exercising that mind.

  5. On the flip side, older people often seem to assume that the younger generation are all natural-born IT/tech gurus. This isn’t the case at all. Yes, growing up with technology does make people more proficient in its use – the average teenager or 20-something can probably churn out texts twice as fast as I can – but it doesn’t result in them possessing special knowledge that older people cannot acquire. It’s all about being prepared to learn.

    Unless somebody has mental or physical impairment, age really isn’t a barrier to anything: tech or non-tech.

    • In a way, our generation – who grew up with DOS – has an advantage as we know what lies beneath the bonnet.

      Many of today’s youngsters have a very low attention span and no interest in knowing how things work at all.

  6. Leo Hi,

    Thanks for all what you do!!! I definitely forget things, but that is one reason, to use pen and paper, I am 73. Keep up your good work and keep using the gray matter. Thanks again.

    Uri

  7. I agree. I provide computer support to home users, small offices. Been doing it full time since I retired from a government job 15 years ago at age 56. I learn new things all the time.

    And I was covering for someone who does the same type of work while he was away; had a call from one of his clients. Was instructing him what to type to set up a remote connection so that I could help him and he apologized that he typed slowly since he is now 87 years old.

  8. Loved the video and the ideas that you are portraying. I turn 70 next year, and I firmly believe experience is something that is priceless. 18 years ago I knew very little about computers, but with the help of some very understanding people and Google, I can hold my own in most cases. Here in Australia, there are quite a few adages about this, one of my favourites is. “old age and treachery will beat youth and exuberance every time” another refers to a couple of Bulls, one old and the other young checking out a field full of cows, the young bulls says to the older, “lets race down and fix up a few of them” the old bull says, “no way lets amble down there and fix up the lot” I guess I am saying that age is not a bad thing, in most cases it has taught us that are in their twilight years to think before they act.

  9. I have an issue with my mother in law who “is too old to get onto the Internet”. She’s paying extra to have a mobile phone that doesn’t have any Internet capabilities. It is funny to see, because she has absolutely no issues with programming her TV set, her hard disk recorder, her DVD reader in a combination I can never get my mind wrapped around, but she has no issues with it, and so on. But “no computers and no Internet, I’m too old for that”. Once with my brother-in-law we wanted to offer her a high-bandwidth connection, but when she found out she was mad at us. What is most frustrating is that she was a technology professor in high school before she retired…

  10. Great article Leo. I refuse to become irrelevant, I am 76 years old and as us old Marines say, “Not as lean or mean, but still a Marine! Semper Fi.” I grew up in the so called barrios of Los Angeles and have worked since the age of 10. Chasing my dream I served as a Cop for 26 years, during which time I also served as a Marine for 12 years and high school teacher for 5 years, and lastly a pro photographer for the past 32 years. Besides my photography business I also mentor a photography ministry of 15 younger amature & semi-pro photographers for God and my church. Photography today is half computers, 20 years ago it wasn’t. I went kicking & screaming into the digital world because my customers demanded it. To survive I had to encompass and master the world of Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator and now video by DSLR. I state this not to brag but to show that no matter your age it’s up to you to decide, do you want to be in the flow of the world around you or do you want to stand by the side lines and watch the world pass you buy. Was it or is it easy? No, it’s doggone hard work but I feel it keeps me alive. Yes my age comes with its limitations, hurts and pains (law enforcement & being a Marine has taken its toll on my body) but i do not want those issues to define who I am. Leo, being 58 is not old not today in this great Country of ours.

    • Great post! I’m 73 and in the process of being “kicking & screaming into the digital world” [of photography]. It can be frustrating, but also exhilarating.

      • Thanks Mike, it’s nice to know that I was not alone. I really loved shooting with film, even had a pretty good semi-pro darkroom. All I have let now are the various bottles, beakers, developing tubs and an old B22 Omega enlarger. Was able to sell the larger color head Omega D5 XL & Zone V washers while they were still work some bucks. Have fun with digital, it really is a marvelous way to shoot.

    • It’s not laziness, it is fear.
      We all have a preconceptions of ‘old age’ and we fear it, hoping it will never happen to us, so we tend to avoid doing things that will make us aware of the unavoidable fact we are getting old.
      Also, bear in mind that death follows old age, so unlike myself, most people fear the ultimate outcome of old age. Personally I have never feared death, even when it stared me in the face on three separate occasions when I was younger.

      Leo’s video is excellent, but I believe wrong when he suggests that old age is used as an excuse for not learning new technology. There are, of course, exceptions, but generally I believe it is the ‘fear of old age’ not just ‘old age’ that is used as an excuse.

      The brain, or better still, the mind, is the be all and end all of how old you are. Keep the brain active and you are keeping the most most important part of your body in god shape. Keep your mind youthful and you will never mentally grow old.

      Unfortunately, no matter what you do, the physical body will always age and that, to me at least, is worrying as every time I look in a mirror, I see myself getting older. And, yet I am mentally O.K. All the result of learning something new every day and keeping mentally active . For example, I am setting up a new business on the Internet and even though it is hard work, I know I will get there soon.

      BTW, Leo, at 58 years old you are just a ‘spring chicken’, a good looking one mind you, but that has nothing to do with your age, probably the beard:-)

      I am 80 next month and have difficulty believing it, honestly, as I feel I still have a lifetime ahead of me.

  11. Leo, you are so on target! I use “old” software (Word 2000, FrontPage 2002) for some very simple work that gets the job done and has received no negative comments for almost ten years now! Microsoft says “Hey, that won’t run on Windows 7 (or 8 or 10!),” but with a little creative help, I found that they DO work, as always, saving me hundreds of dollars, probably more. In the past year, I’ve also had some projects (mainly audio and recordkeeping) that I needed to have modified to perform specific tasks, only to be told by “experts” “You can’t do that.” Isn’t it odd that when I posted those same projects on some outsourcing websites, freelancers were able to complete the work in some cases overnight and for chump change? The most rewarding thing along these lines happened in an elevator conversation with a young man who could have been my grown son about websites and computer tweaks. He said “Some of my friends and associates would never have thought of those work-arounds the way you do. You are really with it!” So, Leo, keep on fighting this fight like you are doing. It’s honorable, valuable, and can be fun and satisfying as well.

  12. The thing I would say about my advancing years is that there are some things that I want to do and there are others that I don’t really want to spend the time trying to master. As I age I have become more selective about where to spend my precious time.
    I learn enough new technology for my needs and what gives me pleasure and if I say that I am too old to learn about a particular technology it is really a euphemism for ” I can’t be bothered because it doesn’t interest me or I simply don’t want to devote a chunk of time to it.”

    • I’d rather have people honestly claim the later than hide behind the former. Saying “I’m too old” is not only wrong, but it reinforces a very unfortunate, and in my opinion dangerous, stereotype.

      • I suppose what it boils down to is when I was younger I would be more willing to spend time on learning things that would be seldom utilised.
        Advancing age becomes a barrier to that because you wish to make the best use of your more limited time. So I do feel to say you are too old is valid in the context of time left and desire of how to use that time and doesn’t necessarily imply that you are saying you can’t physically or mentally do something.

        • Not wanting to spend the time has nothing (or at least little) to do with age. There are young people who don’t want to spend the time, or don’t see it as a priority. So … don’t hide behind age, just say you don’t want to take the time….

  13. I couldn’t agree more with what you said, Leo. I am 79 years old, a retired technologist, and like to keep up to date as much as I can. Maybe that’s what keeps me alive!
    It would be interesting to hear the views of any of your followers who are older than me. Or am I the oldest? πŸ™‚
    Great video, Leo. Thank you.

  14. You are absolutely “spot on”. Two things get in my way – one, life gets ever more complicated with family issues taking up time, and two, I get interested in possibilities only to find that “It isn’t expected that someone of your age would be doing this. We write documentation for experts.” Well, I’ve been using computers since 1981, and PCs since 1996, so I’m no slouch. If I can’t understand the jargon, it’s being badly explained. Happily, a little time with Google and I can always find other sites that fill in at least some of the blanks.

    Now, back to trying to set up my media server on my NAS so that I can watch my videos on my SmartTV πŸ™‚

    Yes, at 76 I’m much older than you, but Duane is wrong. It’s lack of interest and “stickability” that stops people.

    Anne

  15. I really enjoyed this talk and I would like to say that I have heard the story that I am too old from others before, then I think about my father in law who bought an I pad and it working on learning it. This is a man that had never used a typewriter until he was 60 and now he is 97 and still learning new stuff. He is a beacon for us all. I know that it is an old saying but it is worth restating, “Education is a journey not a destination”. Keep learning folks and encourage others do so also.

    While I have gone over to the Apple side I still get a lot out of these talks and thoughts.

  16. Yes, yes, yes! Now that I’m retired I finally have time to do things traditionally thought of as activities for the young. I maintain a few websites and email lists. And Facebook groups. I actually spend far too much time on computers.

    And this idea doesn’t just apply to technology. I’ve forgotten most of the music theory I learned, but I’m relearning it slowly and I’m starting to write–and perform!–music. I guess technology still applies there, as I’m learning to use a variety of music-related software, and some of that is not easy.

    And fitness–it bugs me when the physical therapist tells me I’m in good shape “for my age”. That bar is very low. I want to be in stellar shape for my age–and pretty good shape for anyone 20 years younger (since most of them aren’t in such great shape). My whole philosophy of life is do stuff! Don’t just watch the “experts”!

    • I wasn’t going to pipe in on this discussion as I’m also 66 and didn’t feel I was old enough to be part of this conversation. Now that another youngster like you commented, I’ll put in my $.02. I’ve worked with computers since the 70s. I switched to teaching about 20 years ago and have been working as a college English teacher for the past 16 years. When I reached retirement age, I started teaching Mathematics, Statistics, IT and Change Management classes. That required re-learning a lot of stuff I haven’t looked at with in almost 50 years. I’m forming a hard rock band with people less than half my age, and I also help Leo out answering questions. I’m not working as many hours for a job as I used to, but I expect to stay as active as I can doing new things, hopefully for 20 or 30 years more. I guess some of it is in my genes, as my mother started using computers in her 80s and kept up with email and political activism till she she passed away at 86. And my 93 year old aunt works as a volunteer in a retirement center: Most of the “old” people she helps are younger than she. Like I said, I wasn’t going to comment, because I didn’t think I was old enough to participate in a this discussion πŸ™‚
      .

  17. Interesting discussion. My wife and I (very retired) use home-built gaming-level computers for organized life, video and video editing, etc.. …and help older friends with their computer problems. ..and, as some of your correspondents have suggested, learn complicated new things more slowly now.

    We have noted something new. Older brighter friends, those who used computers fully, but weren’t really at home with them, seem now to be making the switch to cloud-connected phones and tablets with ease. …happily using social media with images, links, on-board cameras, etc.. Happy and able with it all. …which suggests that these new philosophic differences (from last generation human interface) are really right for human minds.

    Laird
    Age 84

  18. I’m 70 and have worked with computers when all we had were mainframes and punch cards. I here the “I’m too old” excuse from a lot of my quilting ladies. However, I’ve had no problem teaching theo maintain and operate a big honking long arm quilting machine. Why? Because they want to learn. I learn about math ng new every day And you help by offering complex topics in language I can be understand. Thanx.

  19. At age 75, I’m still definitely a technophile! I love the challenges of keeping up with advances in technology. I’m one that family members and others can come to for advice and answers about computers and other technology.

    In my experience, I think that one of the reasons that many folks (and not just older folks) shy away from using computers is that they’re afraid they might break something. Maybe they’ve hit the wrong button and erased something they wanted to keep. Maybe the computer made a funny noise when their tried to enter something. Maybe they’re like the airline pilot back in the late 1970s who got his first view of a digital instrument panel and commented, “Now I know what a dog feels like watching television!” In any case, at some point something happened that made them feel they just can’t handle this “new” technology. Heck, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? –when the darned computer did what we told it to do, rather than what we wanted it do do!

    Like many others, I’m self-taught when it comes to computers and lots of other technological marvels. Sometimes you just have to dig in and experiment. Have some fun. If you goof up something…well, welcome to the club. Live and learn!

  20. Good for you, Leo. When I tell my age (74), it is a Badge to show others that very few things are impossible. I often help others with their computer problems and have for years. If I cannot remember how to do it at the time I am asked, I search for the answer. Just as a pianist can still memorize pieces well into their 70s and 80s, we can retain more things as we Use them often. Sure, I have temporary “senior moments”, but the thought will eventually come back around. Keep up the good work. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

    Just like Bill M. I am mostly self-taught as far as computers are concerned – I could not be without a computer. I have read computer magazines for years and learned even more. I was/am a teacher of Art and English, as well as a Sculptor.

  21. Leo, I just finished watching the video on aging. I am your senior by far and I agree with you whole heartedly. I do things people half my age can not do; such as roofing, electrical, flooring, appliance repair, etc.. I am not as quick at my age as I was 30 years ago, but I still function.

    As far as technology, the terms are all greek to me, but if you will explain in layman’s terms (slowly) then I will understand.

    As for age–my take is: I am not old, I have just been here a while. After all age is just a number.

    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

  22. My father used to say “If you don’t learn something new every day, you’re going the wrong way.” We got him a computer 20 years ago when he was 82, and he joined the Technology Group in the Senior Center. He learned to use Excel, Word and email. One of his friends showed him how to convert old one-sided shellac records into MP3s. He continued learning and using his computer, doing online banking and tracking his investments until his passing last year at 102.

  23. Hi Leo
    I like what you have said and agree for the most part. – I had a friend die in her mid 90’s a few years ago. While with some of her older fiends, who were all younger than her, and lamenting about their age, she added; β€œI wish I was 75 again..” The point I make is she was feeling old because of health β€œissues” but 75 looked good to her. (If I were wishing I would have said 60).
    I would not trade paces with some half my age, but Leo I feel like I am ageing faster each year, the β€œissues” make it harder, I have to learn over and over again.
    So when I hear someone say β€œI am too old to learn ..” I do have some compassion for them. Not every one is like me just to stubborn to give up. That’s why I am glad your around to help people like me.
    PS: I like to learn something new everyday – It gets easer – because I forgot what I learned yesterday.

    Mark

  24. Allow me to interpret the phrase “I’m too old” for youngster like yourself, Leo; for most of us oldsters it either means “I’m too lazy to bother” or “I don’t give a crap”. Most of the time it’s a little bit of both. Keep up your good work, kid!

    • I’ve said it elsewhere, I think, but I’d rather people be honest and say those things. Hiding behind “I’m too old” only serves to promote and prolong a horrible stereotype.

  25. I am 80 years young and have PC classes for seniors at our Senior Center. The biggest problem that I see is Trust, most individuals from 60 on up grew up in a trust based world, where every body trusted every body. In my home town all the houses were left unlocked, and when you went to visit someone, you just walked in and found the person or left a note if no one was home. Most people in that age group just open any email they get and click on any link in that email. I have always taught them to look at the email closely and if it’s not from someone they know delete it, and if you do open it don’t click on any links without thinking about who it’s from and does it make sense to be clicking on it. The other problem is the changes in software from version to version. Most of the time when upgrading the present version is nothing like the previous version, and it starts the process of learning all over again. That’s why a lot of my students stick to what they know, and open themselves up to viruses and malware, because MS has taken away all the protection. Just my $.02

  26. I am an 83 year old retired paediatrician and researcher. I am a long time computer user so in that sense you are preaching to the choir. But your message is tremendously important and wonderfully well delivered. The only problem is that most of those viewing it are probably doing so through your blog or website so they are already at least half way ‘there’. If that is so, the challenge is how to get this message out into the broader world. Other than posting it on a blog for which I have some responsibility and putting a link on my Facebook I am not sure how to help but i hope you have some good ideas. Your argument is entirely solid and persuasive. It deserves wide exposure. How about going back to AARP (and, while you are at it, CARP… Canadians are spared some of the US political craziness but we need to have the good ideas such as this shared.) Keep up the good work.

  27. Yep, darn right Leo! My first computer was a Sinclair ZX-81 (now there’s frustration for you!) and I haven’t stopped since. Today I have four computers in my home all networked and used daily for my work and play. I can truly say nothing has given me more frustration and more fun over the years. I am pushing 72, had a hip replaced three years ago, a quadruple heart bypass two years ago, and treatment for cancer. I chair three community organisations, and the computers get used for all that too. Old? I’m not old – just enjoying myself more than I ever have, and a large part of that is involved with technology. Now, must go and try to figure out how to sort out the glitch in my wireless LAN. Yippee!

  28. What, may I ask, is too old? In a few months I’ll be 78 and I’m still trying to teach myself C ++. My first Computer was an Apple II Plus and received my first PC at work about a year later. The following year I was part of the team to introduce CAD to the company that I worked for. I supervised the design department. Taught computers lessons and AutoCAD to my fellow coworkers. Even thought I’ve self taught myself all of this. Several years ago I built this Intel Extreme PC with a I7 chip. Todays computers can’t be harmed if your careful. You can back out of or cancel all most any thing your working on. Don’t load a lot of garbage into them, Delete all the garbage and junk you’ve saved often, while you’re learning. Remember to backup your work daily or while your working on detailed work. Make sure you have good Antivirus and keep it up to date. I’m no expert but I still “hang in there”. My education it’s pretty embarrassing. I got my GED in the Navy and although I have a lot of college credits I still don’t have a degree. If I can teach myself, you can too…no matter what your age is. Have fun and try asking us seniors in the know…We might be able to help you.

  29. Hi Leo , Someone else who believes like me. These people who are in their 60’s and tell me they are to old to do this or understand this. I usually tell them crap, and then let them know that I have woman in their late 80’s and early 90’s who have moved from XP and Vista to Windows 8 and then Windows 10, and they have adopted it with open arms because they want to make the change. They have accepted that they are going to move out of their comfort zones and have looked forward to it. Websites with a dark grey on a light grey background do my head in, why oh why do designers do this, when I see it a email or a phone is usually going to be made pointing out what I consider to be a design fault

  30. Hi Leo,
    Thanks for the vote of confidence in us geriatrics.
    You may be amused by Microsoft’s opinion of us. I joined up with an MS program for testing Windows 10 pre-release, which I ran in a VM box, and enjoyed. I guess as a result of being a “Windows Insider” I was recently sent a plea for feed-back on some aspect of Windows in the form of a questionnaire. Since I have time to do such foolishness, and did like Microsoft, I dutifully answered several screens of questions until a box appeared asking for the year of my birth. When I entered “1928”, I guess the inquisitors did the arithmetic and found that I was 87 years old. The next screen advised me that their requirements for answers from my age bracket had been already satisfied, and they were signing off. I guess they have lots of feedback from us octogenarians.
    So, Leo, no matter what you and I think about the competence of us fossils, MS would rather deal with less aged opinions. That being said, I’m happy to see that the forthcoming update of W-10 will run BASH, since I’m busy installing Ubuntu as a replacement for Win XP on my many friends machines, and can now advise them that Ubuntu is so good that Microsoft has incorporated it into their Windows releases!
    Love your videos and newsletters, and thanks!

    • It *is* possible that they actually had enough feedback from your age group. Of course other things are also possible. πŸ™‚

      And, yes, I, too, am looking forward to bash, as I use it extensively on my Macs and Linux boxes.

  31. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BRINGING THIS TO THE LIGHT OF DAY! I’ve experienced several naysayers. As a women in my 6th decade, I am receiving transitional challenges. They are challenges that I choose to meet or ignore, not due to a number. Often I think people with several decades under their belt are looking at time as a waning resource. So if something takes time to learn and then time to implement, they simply choose not to invest in that resource. This is another myth about how many decades we have. Look at how many more folks with 3 numbers in their age. Amazing, but more and more common.
    If you’ve had a career and no longer do that anymore. It doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t do something different (or the same) and experience another career layer – or a hobby layer – or a social service layer – and on. There are so many options out there. Just make up your mind and invest the time to find which one suits you. Oh, and do all you can to maintain health.

  32. I agree that age doesn’t necessarily stop people learning new skills – as long as the skill is something they’re actually interested in and want to learn! The trouble is that some people want to be able to shop online or communicate with others online – but they want to be able to do that without ever taking the time or trouble to actually LEARN the basics of computing! Consequently, they get frustrated when they can’t find a file they may have saved somewhere to their computer and even worse – they don’t know how to protect themselves or their computer against scams, viruses or ransom-ware. Sometimes they are not even that they should be concerned about such stuff!

    But I think it’s fair to say that younger minds are usually more receptive to learning new things. Younger minds are usually also better at retaining information. For instance, I’m a 68 year old female and I recently undertook a bathroom makeover, where I fitted a new vanity unit, a concealed cistern and did all the plumbing myself. It took a lot of YouTube searching to find out how to do it and two months to finish the project :-/ But even though I worked out how to fit the basin waste 6 weeks ago, when I had to move the vanity unit to lay my new flooring yesterday, I couldn’t immediately remember how I connected one bit of the waste! So I had to look closely at it and use a bit of logic to see how it should be connected. Fortunately, it’s all connected and working now.

  33. Wonderful video. Very well done. I couldn’t agree more. I will be 76 on my next birthday (soon) and I won’t bore you with what I am able to do. Thanks for addressing such an important subject. Many of those that I assist with technical issues use the ‘I’m too old’ phrase too frequently. I help them but mostly I encourage them by telling them that ‘they are capable’ of doing whatever it is that they put their minds too. Thank you for your good work. Oh yes, My next task is to back up my system.

  34. Good to hear my own views echoed by someone who knows what they are talking about. I think there has never been a such a good time to be retirement age and it will become better still. We are living longer and staying healthier and that trend will only accelerate, according to the futurologists (my current passion). John 66

  35. Hurrah for you, Leo.
    I’ve been saying much the same thing to my friends for many years. There are some caveats: many physical impairments are definitely age-related. Other impairments offer huge obstacles to efficient use of much technology as presently presented. I wish those who are developing the latest gee-wizz device
    would give more consideration to those with limitations. The examples abound. Where are the easy-to-read keyboards? Where are the amplifying apps for the hard-of-hearing? Where is the glossary of terms in the user manual? I know that in the early days of personal computers, no one ever read the user manuals because they were so badly written–people got in the habit of learning by trial and error. By now, technology should have risen above that phase.

    Another recent book points out that it is difficult, if not impossible, to really attempt to view anything from a different person’s perspective. Your personal experience and unrecognized biases are so different from anyone else that you really can’t “stand in their shoes”. If that is so, there is all the more reason to try to understand the problems that other people may have in trying to grasp what you are saying.
    Hurray for Leo in urging people to try to grasp new technology and stop rationalizing their excuses. Hurray for Leo in trying to explain some of the more obscure technology. Please, Leo, try to do the reverse: explain to technology developers the problems some people have in understanding and adapting their innovations.

  36. I help people with their computers in their homes, teaching and fixing. The big majority of my clients are over 65. A few days ago I got a call from a woman who is 93. She was using the computer for the internet and to write her memoirs and wanted to learn how to do more.

    Interestingly, it seems the women (as a big generalization, are much more comfortable about learning tech and much less worried that they can’t or will fail. Men’s egos may be more tied into whether or not they are successful. Women just do it. And in a couple in their 70s or 80s, it is just as likely to be the woman who is gung ho for learning about new tech.

    Facebook, email, and Skype are very popular for my older clients to keep in touch with family spread out all over. And regularly Skyping with the littlest grand children means that you won’t be a stranger when you meet with them once a year. Also, as driving becomes harder, and carrying bulky items becomes very difficult, it is a great service to have Amazon deliver items to your front door. Plus there are hundreds of items that used to be everywhere and now have disappeared from the stores (try to find saddle soap, for instance)…. and Amazon has everything. It’s the Sears Catalog of these times.

    Also, I am in L. A. and a lot of my older clients are immigrants. The internet allows them to start the day with their home town paper, whether from Columbia,
    Johannesburg, or Jerusalem. And they can listen to the radio stations from their birth country.

    Finally for those who worry that they can’t learn computers, I tell them that computers don’t make sense and nothing they know in their previous life will be applicable, but that they are really easy if someone shows you that you Click Reply, write your message here, and then Click Send. I also tell them to look around at all of the idiots who are doing it and they can too!

  37. Hi Leo,
    I think the response here is proof that you are 100% correct! Just turned 81 yesterday, have been messing with IT since Windows 98. Vision now slightly impaired and cycling 300 miles (as a youngster) no longer an option, but, trying to keep up keep the mind active especially since Microsoft and all the browsers seem to think that minimalisation is clever, but then I suppose they have to do something different to justify their job, certainly does that!
    Thanks for the website.

  38. Ahhh thank you coach! I really really needed that. Looking for a job in IT after 35 years of solid employment and now seemingly running into obstacles. Blaming myself for “being too old”. I needed that kick in the butt to get me out of my funk. Great talk, gave me new energy and new purpose. Thank You!

  39. Leo,
    Your article is “right on”. I spend a lot of time assisting people in their job search that use age discrimination as an excuse. While there is some, people tend to use it as a crutch, the same as when it comes to technology.
    I know some 40 year olds that act 80, and some 70 year olds that run Marathons and build their computers from scratch. Really think it’s a matter of attitude.
    I have always been a geek, and in the 90’s, to justify new hardware to my wife, I gave my existing computer to her aunt, who was in her mid seventies at the time. When we gave it to her, she asked what that thing on the desk was; she had never seen or heard of a mouse. I explained the basics and she started to explore. In two weeks she had mastered the operation, was doing some digital photography, and was asking about the bios settings.
    Great article!

  40. Enjoyed the comments! I am from your generation Leo and because I enjoy reading/research so much the internet is fantastic! One basically has the world and it’s information at your fingertips. There is not enough time to take it all in. Thank you for all the help you give us. Take care and the Lord bless you.

  41. Leo, I just have to throw in my perspective, as an old fart who will turn 85 next Wednesday. Having had the benefit of being involved with computers since I had to drive a few hundred miles each week to have research data in the form of boxes of punched cards run through a computer, and having built (well, assembled) my first 8088 machine when it was state of the art, it’s probably reasonable that computers are still central to my life and activities. Not at the your level of course, but daily activities like finances, following world events, scheduling shows and trials for our dogs (our other main interest), and photo editing (again often centering on our dogs!). As you say, some things work a little slower now, the old joints sometimes complain, and what was that guy’s name anyway who obviously knows me? But I admit to being just a little proud of maintaining a level of technical proficiency when so many others of my vintage are afraid to touch it. And I have every intention, with a little luck, of still being active at 95 and maybe even further!

  42. Hello All,

    I am well placed to confirm whatever is beeing said here. I am 73 and are teaching the use of Pc’s to people who live in the same condo as I do. On top of that, I am collaborator on a Pc help-site. I also converted my petrol-car to an electric vehicle… And many more technology and technical things I am doing.
    Need more to say?

    Kind regards to all,

    Walter

  43. Great message Leo. So many great comments. I’m in your age group and have recently lost my job. I have been feeling a little like my best days are in the past. Your video has made me rethink my value. Like you and many others on this message board, I love technology and plan to put that passion to use. Thanks again.

  44. I heartily agree with the never to old for technology, but the manufacturers need to be less youth orientated. I’m only 62 and I love tinkering, especially when the technology makes my life easier, so I fit power steering to my 1976 mini and then build the controller for it from a raspberry pi. But how I rage when the remote for my latest technology acquisition has small light grey text on dark grey background. I tried to make the final years for my mother good; using tech. Her brain still worked at 110%, but vision, hearing and coordinator had gone. The wireless headphones recommend by the age concern group had a slide switch too small for her to use and a volume and tuning dials, adjacent to one another so she would detune the receiver instead of turn up the sound. Big print books too heavy for her to use, and the tablets reader, which should have been her life line, would not respond to dry 80 year old fingers. The DVD buttons were unreadable and too small for her to use it. Yet all this would have made her last years less mind numbing with just a bit of thought in the design process.

    • I’m not sure this is an age problem either. This article is dealing with age, not disabilities. It’s true that as you age, the probability of disabilities increases, but disabilities aren’t strictly age dependent. Disabilities make many things more difficult, but age in and of itself doesn’t.

  45. Great article. I am 76 and eight years ago I agreed to take over the website for my navy reunion association (hughpurvis.com). Never did this before and had to learn on the fly. Dummies books. I do have an expert I draw on from time to time when I get stuck (my son). On occasion I link Ask Leo articles from my site and will do so with this one. I tell our members that you really are never to old. Get out there and do it, just be careful of those links. Security is one item I talk about often on the site.

  46. Thank you, for the boost I’m learning to play piano with Karen Ramirez on you tube
    and I’m 76 or 77 in June 2016 Thank you again Leo.

  47. One of the best compliments that I received from a previous employer was he pictured me sitting at a computer at 90. My problem is not my age. My problem is being able to afford the upgrades and new technology. And being able to get a job so that I can afford it. There aren’t that many jobs for working from home which is what I would like to do. Thanks for your video. I agree one hundred percent. The way I want to live my life.

  48. I agree with just about all the comments, I am in the same league as most of them, I am almost 80 and still water-ski and snowboard. However it would be helpful when explaining anything to state what the sets of initials mean when used. These can be very off putting and crop up too often. If you knew what they all meant you probably wouldn’t need to read the article.
    Great site Leo

  49. I am 82 years old and do not feel my age at all. In fact being retired military one day in a military hospital, I am diabetic, a medic asked me my age and when I told him he nearly fell over. He left for awhile then came back and said he asked a few nurses how old they thought I was. Most of them thought I was in the 50’s. I do not think about age much. I get out of breath quickly when I am walking at times. Why, because I am lazy and do not exercise. But I do not have trouble doing most things.

  50. If someone says that they are too old to use modern technology, maybe its because they would rather spend their time growing plants, training pets and taming wild animals, and generally enjoying the great outdoors. They don’t need a Satnav because they can read a map, and they don’t need email because they can use a telephone and enjoy writing letters. They don’t need the internet because they have a comprehensive library and prefer reading books or asking someone they know instead. They don’t play video games because they would rather play tennis or golf with their friends. You don’t need modern technology to enjoy good food and wine or a night at the theatre or at a concert.

    It is true that a Yamaha CVP 409 sounds better and has a smoother action than most acoustic pianos, but then its worth the effort to learn how to use its functions and so they probably wouldn’t regard that as “modern technology”, even though it most definitely is. Having said that I personally prefer the 409 to the later models because it does not have a touchscreen, but has lots of buttons instead. I am therefore “old fashioned” – QED!

    • “They don’t need a Satnav because they can read a map” – I was around in the days prior to satnav, so certainly remember the days of map-based navigation. I also remember getting horribly lost in unfamiliar cities when my planned route would be sabotaged by road closures and temporary one-way systems. And I also remember scouring bus and tube timetables to try to work out how to get from point A to B, or wondering whether I’d be better catching a taxi or simply walking – and where the heck is the bus stop/tube station, anyway? And then there was the language barrier when travelling non-English speaking countries – or even in the US sometimes (“What do you mean I need the blue rowt? What the heck’s a rowt? Oh, you mean a root! Gotcha!”).

      These days, I can cruise around anywhere without fear of getting lost – and without having to remember how to get back to my starting point. My phone lists the options for getting from point A to B – including cost and travelling time – and can even help me find somewhere good to eat along the way. It even tells me how to get to the bus or tube station.

      In short, technology means you can spend more time visiting places and less time working out how to get to those places. It’s great!

  51. Right on Leo! I too get that from “old people” when I ask them if they have a Facebook account or are a member of some organization that posts on it’s website.
    I mention that Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family members and share pictures etc. Plus I tell them being on the computer it good for their brains and dexterity. Poo Poo..they aren’t interested. They worked on a computer at work and now want to stay away from them.
    I tell them that the New Yorker cartoonist Hirschfield worked up until the day he died at 100 drawing for the magazine!
    I love being on my computer and I have an Android phone. I know how to work on Adobe Photoshop and I love learning new stuff
    from your FB page, BrainDrippings, Wired, Metal Floss, and other like pages and I love watching TED video’s.
    I am not afraid of Technology. I find it amazing and lots of time beyond me, but so what!
    I like the homey background on this video instead of the blue background. Thanks Leo!

  52. Old Dog. New tricks? Hmmm! I firmly believe if you continue doing things that you do well then provided you don’t become demented you can still accomplish much albeit at a slower pace. The things I failed to master as younger person are even more difficult now for me. Otherwise I agree with much of your thesis, Leo.
    Attitude does matter.
    Barry Gow (81)

  53. I think you got the message perfectly! Thank you for your kind, gentle and non-condescending delivery of this much needed pep talk. Today’s over 50’s are frequently asked to get out of the way of ‘progress’ and that message is received as: “You can’t keep up, so move it!” The Tortoise and the Hare, one of Aesop’s Fables, rings true today as in earlier days. Staying on track, and proceeding to goal is still golden, in my opinion, humble or not. Its not always the destination; the journey can be the most important part when richness is incorporated. I hope all your readers will take the time to be encouraged by your words; I am!

  54. Just turned 77 on April 2nd. After 5 years RV’ing full time, I opted for a place in which to live in my “old age” and it was Mexico. So at 70 I moved from the western Canada to Mexico, 5,000 kms away. Did it in 9 days to the central part of Mexico. I live on a fixed income. To the question “Why? I had only one reply “Why NOT? The first year after I’d found a lot, I paid it on a monthly basis while I learned Spanish on the computer. (BTW the course at spanishdict.com is excellent.) I also drew up my plans since no architect is required where my lot is located. Neither is a construction permit, given the size of the house. It is a simple 1 bedroom house with a large bedroom that also served as an office, and a kitchen that doubles as a dining room. Now my house is finished after 4 years of fence the lot and complete the house. I acted as construction forewoman and had a few comical moments trying to convince some macho masons that I planned to, could do, and did. One asked me who would be in charge of construction and I replied “Yo” (me). He took a moment to think it out and said “Sorry, senora, but I can’t take orders from a woman” There was only one thing I could reply “….Adios!” Age is not a number, it’s an attitude. Now that I reached a riper age, my little house is very pretty, comfortable, and I can retire and do fun things.

  55. I know people who talk about “how old they are” (50’s, 60’s, and 70’s) justifying their reasoning around “not doing something.”……AND I know individuals in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who run circles around those who are half their age. They are world class bodybuilders at 82….they run the New York marathon @ 84….they are finishing up their Ph.D in the bio sciences @ 91 because they think they might be able to use it to contribute to the world in the future. Aging is not a signal to start working on your dying!!!!

  56. Hi, Leo –

    Thanks very much for the video! It actually pushed me into going back to my online business after 2 years of being “retired.”

    I’ve been designing and writing ebooks and website since 1999. 2 years ago I decided I was “getting too old to keep doing this,” so I quit. Unfortunately, sitting around doing nothing was really, really boring, so I thought maybe I’d pick it back up. But, then my brain played another trick on me – “tech has changed a lot in 2 years, you’ll be out of date.” In checking, it really hasn’t changed much at all when it comes to ebooks. Your video has prompted me to re-open my website – it’ll back on line this week! Many thanks for the encouragement.

  57. Leo,

    Excellent article.

    A couple of thoughts:

    First, the kind of “old age” I think you’re talking about is related more to a state of mind and less to a chronicle age. Yes, as we get chronically older, some things take slightly longer. But, my impression is that **some** of the is also due to shifting priorities as out perspectives of what is important shifts as we gain more experience and birthdays.

    Second, folks that resist change come in all age groups. It has been my experience, as a manager that has worked extensively in the area of organizational change, those individuals that resist change take a long time to learn new processes, procedures, tools, ideas, and such. They often resort to the “good old days” and “old school” concepts. I think this applies to what you’re saying in the article. I’ve actually see a few cases where folks couldn’t accept needed workplace changes and have resigned their job. I feel sorry for those folks. They’re still not sure a desktop computer is a useful tool at work and would never see the need for one at home.

    Sometimes a few more years shift one’s perspective such there is less need to always try the “latest and greatest” as soon as possible. I know I’m OK to wait a few weeks before downloading the latest iOS version; unless a zero-day exploit is immanent which they seldom are. Doing so has allow me to miss a few upgrade problems with my iPhone. It turns out my 1999 Honda Prelude might be a little cooler than a 2016 Honda Civic. . .maybe not.

  58. I have been saying this same thing for years to people: great that you use your platform and skills to put this subject out there.

  59. dear leo noteboom re your comments on age and technology. I really do not want to be negative , with you. I saw your web site and decided to subscribe.
    You know your stuff COLD. You love Computers. you worked for the tech giant, and are retired with I assume a good pension. Hey! Great! you seem very
    human, and are soft spoken. I believe you! You know of really old people, who are having a ball with all the tech stuff! I believe you! But you seem to fail to
    understand how complicated all this stuff is , to a person , who just wants to participate on ,a casual level. How do I say this? I am from the on/off generation.
    And when something goes wrong, it is equally normal to just want to get going again! not having to spend hours working on it! when you know, by memory
    what is what, of course it is a joke! FOR YOU! But not for someone who is not into this. Also, yes I agree with you, most people do not know how we older generation think, so they cannot teach us well! that is true. Also the obsolesance of tech stuff is horrible for the newcomer! also, our society, is a throw away
    society, and silcone Valley has made it even worse! Also, modern society, will be hacked to death! Any thing that is broadcast, can and will be cracked!
    THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING! READ MILITARY HISTORY. SPYING AND THE CRACKING OF CODES, IS AS OLD AS MANKIND!
    You may think that I know what I am doing here; No! I am typing this , not sure at all that this message will get to you, or will my effort be a waste of time.
    modern society’s obsession with computers IS NOT A GIFT TO MANKIND! AND FOR MANY OF US IT HAS AND IS BEING FORCED ON US!
    BUT I SEE YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON, YOU LOVE THE STUFF, AND YOU ARE TRYING TO HELP US. THANKYOU. I HOPE YOU SEE I AM BEING RESPECTFULL
    AND SINCERE WITH YOU. I CAN TALK FOR HOURS ABOUT WHAT FRUSTRATIONS THE TECH WORLD HAS CAUSED ME , JUST LIVING ON THE PLANET!
    BUT AGAIN, THANKYOU, FOR TRYING TO HELP, US NON-TECH PEOPLE. I DO RESPECT YOUR KINDNESS.

  60. I’ll be 73 in June and love to embrace new technologies. About 15 years ago I bought a book on writing HTML code and designed a 100+ website that was featured in the book “Alternative Medicine for Dummies”. Now that I’ve started painting (art) I got a template for a website and tweaked it to meet my needs (http://dianemarcotte.com). One of the smartest things I did years ago was sign up for Ask Leo newsletters – mustn’t fall behind you know!

  61. Take this guy for example:
    “A team of engineers led by 94-year-old John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage. ”

    https://news.utexas.edu/2017/02/28/goodenough-introduces-new-battery-technology

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article. Comments indicating you've not read the article will be removed.
  • Comment on the article. New question? Start with search, at the top of the page. Off-topic comments will be removed.
  • No personal information. Email addresses, phone numbers and such will be removed.
  • Add to the discussion. Comments that do not — typically off-topic or content-free comments — will be removed.

All comments containing links will be moderated before publication. Anything that looks the least bit like spam will be removed.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.