I Looked It Up On The iPad
Posted on April 22, 2014 by Jamie Floyd
“I looked it up on the iPad®.”
“I Googled it.”
“I saw that on Facebook.”
Yes, those words now frequently come out of my 72-year-old father’s mouth. My dad, who really never learned to type or used a computer pre-retirement and who stood on his feet 10 hours a day as a produce manager, is now a social media–using, web surfing, emailing senior. Technology today is incredibly senior-friendly. And, seniors in 2014 not only are embracing technology; they are integrating it into their caregiving roles, augmenting their mental fitness routines, and managing aspects of their health with it.
So, this is a packed topic, right? Where to begin?
Let’s start with devices.
Kindle: Many seniors have received a Kindle as a gift because they are avid readers; they love to read, but struggle with the size of the print in most books. Making the print larger on a Kindle allows older adults to continue enjoying reading.
The Kindle has some other very senior-friendly features as well:
- It is small and fits in a handbag
- You can hold it and read with one hand
- It has a very user-friendly display
- No computer is required to use the device
- It is very lightweight
iPad: Tablets, such as the iPad, are often a gateway to being fully immersed into the world of tech, even for those, like my dad, who have never used a computer before. They have an intuitive user interface, so novices can jump right in and start playing right away. Tablets don’t tend to require lessons on programming, software, keypad shortcuts, etc. And a tablet is portable, so those with limited mobility can use them anywhere, at any time. They also solve lots of arguments, oddly enough…in my parents’ house, my brothers will debate any random “fact,” which causes my dad to retort with the wise words, “Let me look it up on my iPad.” Debate done.
Smartphone: Many older adults have taken to smartphones with great ease and many have even “cut the cord” from the land line. When many seniors move into retirement communities, in fact, they elect to go without a land line in their apartment. They have their cell phones on their ventures throughout the community and feel safe knowing help is just a phone call away. And, most smart phones allow the user to enlarge icons on the home screen, as well as type size within the apps themselves.
Apps: Where to begin? There are so many! I would advise older adults to use some of the same apps that their family members find helpful or fun. For example, I helped my parents get started with Facebook. This allows them to “spy” on their adult children and grandchildren. All kidding aside, it is a great way for families to keep in touch through sharing pictures from travels, sporting and school events. We just have to be sure we give our posts the “grandma test:” if you post it, grandma’s going to see it!
Here is a short list of apps you might find helpful:
- Skype or FaceTime
- Google Earth (use this one to look for places where milestones, such as first dates, engagements and weddings occurred)
- LifeTimes Talk: The Game of Reminiscence
- Weight Watchers Mobile
- AARP (there are more than five apps from AARP)
- Diabetes – (there are at least nine apps related to diabetes for my iPad)
- Healthspek – Personal Health Record
Email: Your mom or dad will need an email address for nearly every application on the devices I’ve mentioned here. Help them set up an account (Gmail is a great interface), show them the basics for sending and receiving, how to save a photo that is attached to an email message, and how to watch out for spam or scams which do prey on the elderly (we will address this issue in a future blog entry). Once they’re up to speed on email, make an effort to send messages on a regular basis to keep them engaged. They’ll be thrilled with the personal connection – even electronic well wishes help make a senior’s day!