Saturday, December 11, 2010

Aging Parents: Technology Gifts for Non-Tech-Savvy Seniors

Computer? for ChristmasLiving far from my parents, I thought gifting Dad with a computer--just like mine so I could help him if he had problems--was a great idea on many levels--including our staying in touch.  Dad had a logical mind and could take apart and fix anything. Therefore I deduced, he would find using a computer relatively easy.  Wrong!
While his hands were steady at 85 and a mouse was no problem, he seemed eager to try but there was no natural instinct (as there is with today's children.) He was fine when I was sitting next to him; but when I left he couldn't do it. I'm an educator and know how to effectively teach.  But I failed.  That said--
7 Gift Ideas for Non-Tech-Savvy Seniors
1.  A computer? Nancy M., a computer educator who successfully taught octogenarians, among others, for over a decade says: "If people are mentally sound and have the dexterity, they can successfully use a computer."  To start out right, she advises, find a teacher or someone who understands how people learn.  An older person should be taught at home on his/her own computer.  Arranging the computer desktop so that only needed icons are there is a must...reduces confusion, she says. She also makes a folder for the desktop, containing an individual file with simple instructions for each procedure. Instructions are there if someone forgets. (I neglected the last 2 suggestions when helping Dad.)
2.  PawPaw easy e-mail for nontech seniors and grandparents. There's a 10-day free trial period.
3.  Presto Printing Mailbox E-mail comes to the recipient as a printed-out letter; photos can also be sent. One-way communication from you to noncomputer users. There's a monthly fee.
4.  Fax: Most aging parents are comfortable with this old technology. Its original purpose was to transmit letters and documents. Excellent for: making copies; communication to/from doctors' offices; obtaining copies of records or lost bills; enlisting your help with confusing letters or bills. When mother was recovering from her stroke, it gave her incentive to exercise her hand and fingers by writing me--then faxing (or have Dad fax) it to me. Short notes grew into letters--good, meaningful fine motor practice.
5.  An ipad: a touch screen is easier than a mouse or keyboard for many older people. Marti Weston provides excellent information as she shares her experience with the ipad she bought for her dad.
As many of us know, major studies confirm social connectedness is one of the three most important factors in successful aging. The above gifts support this goal.
While the last 2 gifts don't promote social connectedness, they do promote pleasure:
6.  The iPod Shuffle-- "tailor-made for seniors, according to Phil Moeller's "Best Holiday gifts for Seniors" in US News&World Report."Once it's set up, to operate it all one has to do is click-on and click-off. Someone else who is already familiar with iTunes needs to learn what their favorite music is, obtain it, set up the playlist, and load it. If the senior knows how to operate a TV remote, they'll be able to handle this single-button operation."
7.  The Carson EZ read, helps the visually impaired (think macular degeneration) by magnifying a page onto a TV screen.  (Thanks to Susan Estrada, an engineer and member of the Technology and Aging Coalition of San Diego for this idea plus a technology gift guide.)
Gifts that expand aging parents' connections and knowledge, also help them to age well.
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1 comment:

  1. Taking advantage of today’s technology doesn’t have to be always overwhelming to seniors. One of the non-overwhelming devices that are available in the market today is the Just5 Easyphone. This is a very practical phone for seniors because of its ease of operation and very practical features. My Dad is using Just5 and he highly appreciates its big buttons, amplified sound, PERS, and built-in flashlight as well as radio. For those who have an elderly, give them this device and they will surely thank you a lot!