Sarah D: Get Grandma surfing!

They can TMt eat you, but they can sure make your life miserable.

That TMs Helen Creech of Quincy, describing her relationship with computers. That sums it up pretty well, don TMt you think? If you don TMt know your way around a PC, like Helen and me, it TMs a pretty scary prospect. I have the techno IQ of a slug. Helen TMs the turtle who will slowly and surely win the race.

Helen is a senior citizen, who conquered her dislike of computers the old-fashioned way. She tackled her fear head-on.

Helen was officially retired, but in the market for a job. She turned to the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center office for help. They hooked her up with the Historic Quincy Business District . Its director, Travis Brown, helped Helen learn the basics and the rest, as they say, is history.

Certainly, Helen has the right idea. Having computer skills will make you more marketable, no matter what age you TMre entering the workforce. For a senior citizen, it can open a whole new world.

While a computer has the potential to make your life miserable, even the staunchest techno-phobe would have to admit it truly can make your life much easier. In Helen TMs case, she used to work in accounting and tax preparation. She used a pencil, tablet and ledger. I TMm guessing a PC and a few programs could have sped up the process a bit.

Even though Helen dodged the computer early in her career, she found she couldn TMt put it off any longer.

The thing that baffled me was that I couldn TMt get it where I wanted it to go, says Helen of her early experience. It TMs that fear of getting hopelessly lost on the information superhighway or that a single key stroke will wipe out days worth of work that scares many older or inexperienced people away.

Todd Shackelford is the assistant director of the West Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. He finds that today TMs crop of senior citizens are more computer savvy than the past, because they TMve needed those skills in the workforce. There are many others though, who still need help learning, improving or expanding their knowledge.

It TMs a great way to stay connected, to research, to entertain and to sharpen their skills, says Shackelford. The Senior and Resource Center has some ways to help. You can go to your local library. The Quincy Public Library for instance, has high-speed internet available, and they TMll work with you to figure out how to use them. And for a firmer grasp, try a college course. John Wood Community College has classes to teach you the basics. If you like it, you take more advanced classes.

As a senior, maybe you could ask your child or grandchild for help. If they TMre willing to help, there are plenty of websites out there that give tips on teaching the basics. Some of these suggestions are pretty condescending, others are outstanding . It TMs worth checking out. If you know a senior who TMs interested in learning, offer a hand. It will be rewarding either way.

At minimum, the computer is a great tool to keep in touch with family. That alone will make you feel more in touch with the world. E-mail really is a fantastic thing. I go nuts if I have to wait more than a couple minutes for mail"the postal service just can TMt compete with that. Social networking, like Facebook , can keep you informed|in fact, some of the details your friends share is WAY more information than you want!

For Helen Creech, most of her computer time is spent at work. At home, she TMll use her PC occasionally to play games.

As for Facebook, That just doesn TMt turn me on, she tells me.

Whatever turns you on, you should try it out. You may be frustrated, you may feel like the old dog that can TMt learn new tricks, but in the end, knowing the basics of computer navigation will keep you in the loop with the younger generation.

Talk to me. Tell me how you find the computer an indispensable part of your life, or how you TMd like to chuck your hunk of junk out the window. I especially love your stories. Comment here, or if I can figure it out, I TMll try to respond on KHQA TMs Facebook page . If you read my previous story on my life as a techno-dummy , you TMll see the station TMs Facebook Fan Page has me stumped. I TMve already crashed it once, and now I TMm running scared.

Next installment: How your computer can improve your health.