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!

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