When Barbara Hsu was born in 1939, no one had a television in their home, let alone a computer or smartphone.
“Times were simpler then,” says Barbara. “Sometimes I wish they still were, but it’s 2020 and there’s no turning back.”
Today, she’s using technology to manage her health care online. She’s mastered MyChart – MD Anderson’s patient portal – and uses it to check her medical results, communicate with her health care team and schedule appointments online.
Empowered by personalized tech help
But the 80-year-old leukemia survivor wasn’t always so digitally savvy.
“At first I felt intimidated,” she recalls. “Then I discovered Tech Tuesdays, and everything changed.”
Tech Tuesdays are free technology help sessions held in The Learning Center, MD Anderson’s patient education library, the last Tuesday of each month. Patients, their family members and caregivers can drop by for personalized help with electronic devices, social media, mobile apps, MyChart and more.
Adela Justice, a senior librarian at the center, says those who seek help are typically older.
“The average age of cancer patients in the United States is 66, which means they weren’t raised in the age of digital technology. Yet as patients, they’re expected to use it,” Justice notes. “Furthermore, they’re battling cancer. It can all be very overwhelming. We’re here to help.”
Most people learn better with a hands-on approach.
Hands-on approach builds tech confidence
With no judgement and infinite patience, Justice and her fellow staff members sit side-by-side with patients and their loved ones, teaching them how to download and use an app, save documents to iCloud, find a book on a Kindle, customize computer or smartphone settings, set up and use new devices, create social media accounts on platforms like Facebook or Instagram, install updates, and much, much more.
“Most people learn better with a hands-on approach,” Justice says. “We show them how. Then we watch as they practice.”
The joy that accompanies that “aha” moment when a patient grasps how to execute a digital task is enormously rewarding, she says.
“Now they can do it themselves,” Justice says. “They feel confident. They no longer have to ask their grandchildren for help.”
Justice offers these words of encouragement to help senior citizens overcome techno-stress, her phrase for fear of technology: “You can do this. It’s basically ‘push this button, type inside this box.’ It’s not an inborn talent. It’s an acquired skill anyone can learn.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.