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Boomers: Stop Resetting Passwords!

Updated: Jun 5

A big red button that says "RESET"

Is someone you love (or are you) over the age of 60?  If they (or you) have a computer or any online accounts, you probably have had to deal with forgotten or mistyped passwords. Ask computer pros how often they have difficulty logging into web sites. They will likely say “I don’t have that problem.” Conversely, many people (often a bit older) have it all the time, contributing to a ton of frustration and arguments with the friends or family members who are TRYING to help them. They end up bickering and everyone is frustrated. 

If you’re regularly having problems with passwords, you’re likely falling into this kind of pattern:

  • type the user name and password, get an error

  • type it again, get the error

  • type it over and over, or try different versions, forgetting which is the most current

  • the account gets locked, requiring a password reset

  • the password reset process requires a new, not-previously-used password

  • get logged back in and update that little piece of paper with the new password, keeping all the old ones on there just in case

Any linked accounts that reference that old password then break, requiring they be re-connected. This happens with sites like or any financial tools that try to aggregate your information. 

They (or you) then complain that it’s so difficult to get into these accounts, how frustrating it is, and they often engage a (younger) family member to try to assist. They launch into a “I can’t stand this process” tirade and explain all the steps they took, usually done to try to AVOID bugging someone. 

Instead of staying in this frustrating loop, try this:

  • Get a password manager (1Password, LastPass, Dashlane.) If you tried one in the past, stop pretending to use one. Either you learn how to use it or just accept that you’re not in a position where you want to get a better solution.

  • When you get an error, ASK FOR HELP. Don’t keep typing it in. Don’t try all the variations that you have written down. Don’t get locked out.

  • Don’t reset your passwords whenever things get difficult. A password reset should be your LAST resort.

  • Eliminate all previous written down passwords. They just don’t help any more. Only write down the ones that you know are current.

  • Stop trying to be so self-reliant. You’re having this frustration over and over again likely because you are trying to NOT bother others, or you want to prove you can do this on your own, or because you were told “I’m too busy, I can’t help you right now” - any time my mother starts a call with “aren’t you proud of me,” I wince at what she may have tried to do on her own. It’s not worth the bragging rights. 

  • Don’t use the same passwords over and over again. Don’t do it, it’s the simplest way that predators steal your identity online. Is it a massive pain to have to use different passwords everywhere? You bet. But it’s the only way to ensure that one site getting hacked doesn’t cascade into you getting your personal information stolen from other sites. 

Stop resetting your passwords. It’s fine (and smart) to change them periodically, but resetting them due to problems is completely avoidable.The underlying problem is likely that you aren’t recording them well, or you’re typing them incorrectly, or you’re not using a password manager (or not using it correctly.) If you have absolutely no other recourse, reset the password but don’t expect that whatever method you used to “remember” it before will work this next time.

We’re still very much in a world of user accounts and passwords: in the future, this will be all behind us, relying on easier methods like biometrics or techniques that don’t rely on human error so easily. In the meantime, accept that this is just not easy for some people and rather than fight it, try these tips. As an added bonus, it will make your calls to your family members much more pleasant. 


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