IPad is a game-changer for seniors

What if we had a computer that didn’t have a mouse or keyboard that you had to use and you simply had to touch the screen? What if there was a computer that every program on it was designed for that device so you didn’t have to worry about updates, viruses, or software glitches? What if there was a computer that wasn’t a computer and was actually just a replacement for paper? Wait, it’s the iPad!

I recently attended the first annual Life Services Network (LSN) of Illinois Technology conference. LSN is the state affiliate of AAHSA and ALFA. The keynote speaker, Andrew Carle, showed a video of a 100 year old poet that could no longer hold a pen because of arthritis, had never used a computer, and had poor vision so she couldn’t see a traditional computer screen. Within 5 minutes they had her using an iPad and she had written a poem. To view Virginia’s new iPad YouTube video: click here.

I often tell the same story of my wife’s grandmother. She was familiar with computers, but they were too complex for her to use anymore on a regular basis. As a gift she received an iPad from our uncle. She is now on Facebook every day, emails regularly, and stays connected with our lives on a regular basis.

If you think a computer is too complex for seniors, Apple has created a game-changer in the iPad. It’s an intuitive, cost-effective device that is a replacement for many of the paper mediums that seniors use on a regular basis. If the print is too small in an email, newspaper, or website, it takes a simple swipe of the finger to magnify it to a level they can read. They don’t have to worry about viruses or software glitches because all of the software is designed for it. It’s incredibly light and portable for them to carry in any room or on a trip. It’s large software icons are intuitive and similar to use as many of the computer programs designed to make computers easy for seniors to use. The touch screen and buttons are even easy for someone with arthritis to use.

Not only is the iPad easy for seniors to use, but it can actually enhance their lives. The intuitive interface allows users to quickly and easily access applications to communicate that were often too complicated for them to learn on a traditional computer. If they want to send an email, they simply push the email icon. If they want to look at pictures, they simply push the picture button. The same for movies, music, internet surfing, games, and all other applications. There are also easily accessible apps designed to enhance communication and brain function. A new company, iPads Chicago, is specializing in paring the best apps with iPads and working with senior housing communities to give their seniors access to these iPads.

The next generation of iPad is expected to have a video camera, which will allow one-touch video Skypeing. This will make it even easier for seniors to stay engaged with their families and friends, even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles away. Laurie Orlov of Aging In Place Technology Watch notes that the new camera enable iPad will be the wave of the future with seniors (click here for full article). Although the iPad doesn’t replace the intimacy of an in-person visit, it makes meaningful engagements in between those visits much easier.

If a computer is too complex for a senior you know to use, try the iPad and be prepared for some new senior friends on Facebook.

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