Monday, May 30, 2011

Help Aging Parents: In Honor of Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day is a time to remember that not all parents can age well. Some give the ultimate sacrifice in times of war, leaving widows and children; others receive injuries that change their lives forever.
Memorial Day, commemorating those who died in military service, was originally called Decoration Day. Its early observance--on May 30th as a time to decorate the graves of war dead with flowers--came in 1868, 3 years after the Civil War.
It was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars at the end of WWI. And in 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, taking it from a 1-day holiday observance (unless it fell on a Friday or Monday making for a 3-day weekend) to a Monday observance that created the 3-day holiday weekend we observe today.  (For a full history click:
From the LLMilitaryWife's YouTube video of this year's Memorial Day ceremonies at Flanders Field, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu: the reflections of a columnist for the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, 
...and the personal experiences of a San Diego (CA) writer, 
we sample this weekend's thoughts and tributes. Help Parents Age Well honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
This Post replaces Tuesday's regular post.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Help Aging Parents: Computers for Seniors

Special computers for seniors? We know computers are a way of life for younger generations, but not for aging parents. That's why my posts the last two weeks have focused on capable aging parents using a computer. But we can't assume that computers not especially designed for seniors are suitable for aging parents and grandparents. One size never fits all. So today--

6 computer options for seniors

While I'm not in a position to rate them, I've added hopefully helpful comments. Needless to say researching for the specifics that best match for your aging parents' or grandparents' capabilities and needs makes sense. While clearly not all-inclusive, here are 6 options worth looking at:

A-Plus Senior Computer:    Be certain to click "Questions."

Big Screen Live: "Software to turn a pc into an easy-to-use senior computer." For details watch YouTube video:

Eldy: Begun in Europe, the free Eldy download for Windows, Linus, and Mac makes one's current computer senior-friendly. According to the 12/29/10 post's sidebar, training is going on in the US. Check it out!

GO Computer:, click "FAQ's." The GO is sold through  firstStreet--a major catalog retailer for "boomers and beyond."

Rick's 2009 post,, finds fault with GO's price and is instructive if you have patience to read the subsequent comments, about Eldy (then only available in Europe) and--for computer-savvy children-- about purchasing an inexpensive computer with a large screen then installing and customizing Ubuntu for senior parents.

I note firstStreet also sells the WOW! computer:'s for seniors and has a touch screen.

Pzee computer: Click "Why Pzee" at screen bottom.

Father's Day is a few weeks away. In our efforts to help aging parents, a senior-friendly computer could be a welcome gift--for older fathers and grandfathers as well.

Visit my other site:  Same blog, more information (see tabs).

Friday, May 20, 2011

Aging Parents' Computer Capability--2

A Heads-Up Before Buying an iPad for Aging Parents
At the Apple Store I asked for help selecting an iPad for an older person. If you're thinking of gifting an aging parent with an iPad, keep the following (learned in response to my questions to the Apple person assigned to me) in mind. You need to have a compatible computer in order to install iPad updates or trouble-shoot problems, according to him.  Phone support is also available--$79 for 2 years. It doesn't seem to me that the iPad can substitute for your parents' computer.  In addition:
1.  A compatible HP printer is necessary to be able to print something from the iPad.  The Apple Store sells the HP compatible models (least expensive is about $150).
2.  Since the iPad is wireless it's necessary to bring wireless to the house/apartment if it isn't already there (and of course there's a monthly charge). If cable has already been installed "it's probably OK."
3.  The iPad comes in 2 models. The 3G model has the capability of being used anywhere (and requires an independent contract with Verizon or AT&T, thus is more expensive).  If the iPad will be used primarily at home, no need for the 3G model.
4. A $69 keyboard is available for people who touch type and find the smooth surface of the iPad a difficult adjustment.
5.  Because, as I understand it, it's necessary to have a 
compatible computer in order to install updates or trouble-shoot problems on the iPad, it may mean buying a new computer for your parents--probably a Mac.
6.  Anyone who has changed from pc to Mac, knows it's an adjustment. Older people usually find change more difficult.  I know it took me a while to feel comfortable when I made the change (even the vocabulary changes--ie. "favorites" become "bookmarks") so being available to answer aging parents' questions and being supportive during the transition makes sense.
Also, if you're considering an iPad for a Father's Day gift, you might double-check the questions I asked the Apple person who was assigned to me with the Apple person who is assigned to you.  And if you should get different information, please let me know.  After all-- we want to help aging parents, not give them more problems
Tomorrow I'm visiting my 89-year-old friend. Our goal: to make her a more comfortable, knowledgeable iPad user.
Visit my other site:    More information on the tabs

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aging Parents: Computer Capability

I had one of those moments the other day.  A former high school and college math teacher, now long-retired at 89 years of age, and I went out to lunch together.  We've been friends for years. I knew she had been using a computer for years and assumed (Sr. Advisor 97-year-old R has said more times than I can remember "don't assume" and I guess that goes doubly for older people) she was quite computer literate.
She began our luncheon conversation telling me how she was thrilled with the new iPad her children had given her--so light weight and fast and enlarging images on the screen is easy.  But she didn't know how to get my blog on it.  Said her son had showed her certain things, but not how to get to my blog.  So I asked a few questions:
1.  How did she get to my blog on her old computer?  Answer: "I pushed the button, it was in my favorites."
2.  I knew she e-mailed and asked what else she did on her computer? Answer: "I look at pictures my children and grandchildren send me and I print some out."
3.  "Anything else?" I asked.  Answer: "I used to look up information but I don't any more."
4.  "Do you write letters other than e-mail for people who don't have e-mail?" I asked.  "No, I don't know how to do that. And the other thing I don't know how to do is print anything out on my new iPad."
This woman has a mathematical mind and in her day was an outstanding science student at one of the top colleges in the country. She also  plays bridge and comes in first more times than I can count.  So I'm wondering why her computer usage is so limited.  I think I know the answer.  None of her children live near.  

The closest lives a  4-hour drive away and he has responsibilities that make it difficult to get away." He purchased the iPad (as a Mother's Day gift from him and his siblings) and set it up and I believe showed his mother some basics. But then he had to go back home.  If you read Marti Weston's experiences with her dad and the iPad she bought him, you realize it takes more than one trip (see last Saturday's post) to help an aging parent really understand.
I went to the Apple Store today after the workmen left and will summarize my iPod inquiry in an additional post I tomorrow. In terms of helping aging parents, I think I get it now!

Visit my other site:  Same blog, more information

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday's Post delayed another day--until Thursday

Sorry everyone.  Preparing to move has presented unforeseen tasks that--each day--seem to take up more time than I had realized.  I'm hoping to squeeze in the time I need to post tomorrow.
As each day passes, I gain a greater appreciation of what it must be like--emotionally and physically-- for aging parents who must move from their home of decades. While we have made the choice to move, I can imagine what it must be like for an older person who is moving out of necessity. But that's a future post.
I am anxious to write about computer and computer technology that seems to be well-suited for seniors--hopefully tomorrow.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Enrichment for Aging Parents Capable of Using a Computer

There is no one answer to why some capable, aging parents don't use a computer--another resource that can help parents age well.  A few reasons were offered in the last post. More recent questioning of older people elicited:

Comfort Level Reasons
1.  Older people are satisfied with things the way they are. Why make problems if they're happy with the status quo?
2.  They aren't interested in learning anything new.
3.  Any initial interest in learning to use a computer is ultimately overruled by the necessity of disrupting one's comfort level (which includes concerns about being able to learn and about internet security).
4.  When it involves "home," they don't want it "torn up." Thoughts of making a hole in the wall for internet access is unnerving, whether in a home or in an apartment lacking internet accessibility.
Financial Reasons
1.  While the price of computers has clearly come down, they do cost money.
2.  Installing internet access costs money.
3.  Then there's the monthly charge for internet access.
The above bears keeping in mind if you decide to plunge in and discuss getting a computer with your parents; as does the "keep it simple, stupid" rule. If it's complicated, forget it. Which brings us to computers recommended in past posts, but with a different twist.
1.  Paw Paw The simplest technology-just email. But it does connect seniors to the outside world. A baby step towards the internet's capabilities.
2.  A computer: Regardless of make or model, start simple.  Instruct how to E-mail, Google, Forward an e-mail, and Click on a forward, for example Live-Streaming (eg. the previously suggested link:http://www , where viewing the baby red-tailed hawk and its parents is addictive and educational),  or UTube, where Susan Boyle's 1st audition is thrilling. The latter two forwards highlight examples of the educational and musical potential.
3. The iPad: small, light-weight. Teaching parents the basics above, and selecting a few appropriate apps, gets parents started.  Once again check out Marti Weston's blog and her 80-something-year-old dad's experience after she gifted him with an iPad:
Father's Day is June 19th.  Yet there are other excuses to gift capable parents with a computer, internet access, and some of your time to teach some basics. If siblings and others want to chip in, so much the better. Once aging parents get thehang of it, won't they be entertained, connected, and possibly forever grateful?
Also check out my other site: Same blog, additional resources.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogspot Problelms=Unable to Post This Week

So sorry, Everyone.  Could not sign in with a new post this week--until tonight. Blogspot has had problems and I've been checking daily to see if I could sign in; but no luck until now.

As you realize if you read last Saturday's post I'm pretty sold on older parents having access to computer technology if they are mentally capable.  And you know the reasons if you read that post. 

Tomorrow I will elaborate and make some suggestions for getting aging parents up an running on a computer.  Assuming Blogspot has no additional problems, I'll be back with you as we try to do it right in our efforts to help parents age well. 

PS  Do visit my other site:http:// It has been up and running without problems.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Help Aging Parents: A Baby Hawk In Time For Mother's Day

Is there a better Mother's Day gift than a new baby coming into the world? Robin and Bobby, the red-tailed hawks that nested on the window ledge of the New York University's president's office, have one hatched baby as of this posting.

We've been watching the nest's goings-on for several weeks; indeed the eggs were expected to hatch several weeks ago and were declared no longer viable by some expert just a few days ago.  Meanwhile as the drama of an overdue birth continued, a small minority of tweets on the Twitter Chat suggested keeping the faith. Faith has triumphed.

My April 20th blog suggested forwarding this and/or other live-streaming links to lift the spirits of aging parent parents (who have a computer) on dreary, rainy, days.  4800 viewers are watching the NY Times livestream as I post this.  If it's engaging them, think of the enjoyment for older parents who spend much time alone, with "time on their hands" (aka not a lot going on). This is real, reality. It's compelling, addictive and the tweets on the sidebar, while sometimes annoying, unveil viewers feelings.

So here's a Mother's Day gift--for aging mothers, aging fathers, and you too. Happy Mother's Day from Robin and Bobby and the as-yet-unnamed chick.

PS. There's more drama to come: will the 2 other eggs hatch and how well will the first chick survive?  Weeks more of viewing... A stimulating pass-time for parents in our effort to help them age well.

Visit my other site: blog, more information

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why Mentally Capable Aging Parents Should Have A Computer

I'm sneaking in an extra post today--it's something I feel passionate about.
I was at a Woman's Club program yesterday. We had tea and desserts after the program, seated at tables for four. The attendees were, at least, in their 60's--many in their 70's and 80's; some older.  Two of the women at my table were in their 80's, one was 90--all widows, bright, alert, and with-it. Why would they need a computer? Why should they have a computer? One of the 80 something-year-olds said she used a computer when she worked, but never bought one after she retired.
The subject underway when I joined the table was Bin Laden's killing by the Navy Seals. One woman's brother was an Annapolis grad way back; her husband had been a veteran. Another woman's husband was in the Pacific in WWII.  I asked if they knew anything about benefits for Veteran's and their widows. Both women were clueless; their adult children should "check this out," they said, "but would they  know what to do" if I wrote down my blog "address" for them?
That triggered thinking about the necessity of aging parents having and using a computer. Even R, at 97, has said many times that if she'd known at age 80 that she was going to live this long, she would have gotten a computer and learned how to use it.
That said, I have friends in their 60's and 70's who drive a car without hesitation but don't use a computer.  Some have one in the house (their husband's old one?) and access e-mail--when they think about it.  For anything else, they ask their husband, adult children or grandchildren to do it. Some smugly say they'd rather talk to a person on the phone; and/or they prefer to write a letter...."not as impersonal" they think.
But isn't that unfair? Unfair to impose on family members, and unfair to themselves because they miss out on a lot.  Some of my high school classmates have died.  Most of us hear by email.  Yet a close h.s. friend who moved away "put her late husband's computer in a box" when she moved and proudly says she hasn't taken it out and doesn't plan to. Friends can update her about news on the phone, she says. They forget. She's misses out.
Studies confirm connections with others are an important factor in aging well.  Think connections, stimulation, exchanging information. A computer makes it possible.
This replaces my usual Saturday post. I want to spend Saturday finding the simplest technology for using the internet and e-mail.  When older people have and use that technology, an important ingredient is added to their lives--an ingredient that helps them age well.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Help Aging Parents: What Comes Around, Goes Around

Barron's, "The Dow Jones Business and Financial Weekly," features "Reviews & Previews"--a 2-page spread each week. The "Reviews" page features short business-oriented snip-its, so I was surprised to read the following, but not surprised by the following in a short column titled "The Numbers" (probably included because Mother's Day is this Sunday).  I share it with you.
"Senior Helpers, an in-home care provider, found that elderly moms prefer to live with their daughters over their sons.
70%: share of mothers with both sexes of children who prefer to live with their daughters.
94%: share of parents who want to live independently as they age
68%: share of mothers who say daughters will take better care of them as they age
80%: parents who say their children will care for them as well as they care for their parents."
Do you find it surprising that elderly mothers would prefer to live with daughters rather than sons (who probably come with a wife aka "daughter-in-law")? I don't.  However, I'm fortunate to be married to an only child. His mother, R, is like a mother and she treats me like a daughter. 
Yet--and this is not surprising either--98% of parents want to live independently as they age.  And this is true of R, who still lives in her home of 60+ years--actually is back, living independently in her home without help, after breaking her hip in late September and making an impressive recovery. (Her recovery is the subject of a January 25, 2011 post.)
The fact that 68% of mothers say their daughters will take better care of them is also not surprising.  We typically think "women" when we think "caregivers" but many men--prefer (my dad insisted on) "male" when thinking "caregivers" for themselves.  Whether or not those "males" would include their sons is anyone's guess--probably depends on several factors including the son's wife.
Lastly, isn't the 80% of parents who say their children will care for them as well as they care for their parents ambiguous as to quality of care?  Does that mean if they don't do a good job of caring for their parents, their children--likewise--won't do a good job of caring for them--or vice versa?
It's a fact that parents are strong role models for their children.  And parents who help their aging parents are modeling this behavior for their children who, in turn, have better odds that they will help their parents as they age.  If we believe in role models, or if we believe "what goes around, comes around," it's all the more reason to help parents age well.
Check out my other site: blog, more information and resources