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Technology & New Product Reviews

An iPad for Grandma

With today’s technology and electronic devices (iPads, tablets, smart phones), there is no reason for any aging parent to be bored, out of touch with family members, or to feel isolated and alone.  Some people have reservations about teaching technology to older generations.  Hopefully, after readying this article, you will see and understand the importance of introducing your aging parent to this technology.  This easy, step-by-step guide will help you and your family choose the right device, set it up for use, and teach the parent how to properly utilize their new equipment.

When choosing which device would best work for your parent, think about his/her needs and resources. For example, both dexterity and vision require serious consideration when selecting a new device. Smart phones are great, but they can be quite small for someone who needs reading glasses or has difficulty moving around small items. Because of their size, tablets are easier to handle and provide greater surface area for larger text, which is helpful to someone with imperfect vision. Tablets are wonderful and versatile and are a great size for anyone. 

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There is a wide selection of devices, with different benefits and capabilities.  Every device has benefits, but in our experience, we’ve had the best experience with Apple products. They are all compatible with other Apple devices, and are very easy to use for older adults.

Resource availability and pricing is another thing to consider when choosing a devise. Most older adults may initially not be willing to pay for new devices because they don’t see the value of them.  You and your family can think about pooling money together for a birthday or Christmas gift.  Keep in mind that there will most likely be a monthly fee associated with the device, so this is something to calculate into the price you are all willing to pay. Another option is for Grandma to inherit an iPad that has been upgraded by someone in the family.  This would be a great place to start if you’d like to “try” things out before investing in a new one.  Once you have received Grandma’s new iPad, it’s time to set it up for her to use.  Setting up the device is very important! New technology is often overwhelming.  You don’t want Grandma to give up because she gets confused. When setting it up the three areas to address are: basic icons, Apps, and Settings. The eight basic icons that should be on every device are Calendar, Contacts, Clock, Camera, Pictures, App Store, Internet and Email.

These eight are all self-explanatory, although you may still have to explain them initially and make them easy to identify.  Additions to these would come after interviewing the parent, making note of hobbies and interests.  Details like this will help you determine which apps to choose.  If Grandma doesn’t remember passwords very well, but is able to pay her bills, you will want to make sure those passwords are made available.

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You can always refer to our  Technology Interview Guide (coming soon) if you need help coming up with questions, or you need help selecting the best apps. We are so passionate about teaching the latest technology to older generations because we have seen the great benefits that can come from using it correctly.

No more searching though the endless miscellaneous drawer for tools such as calculator, camera, phone directory, etc. A tablet is a great, simple source for parents to access a number of different tools all stored in one place. Skill development, fun entertainment, and connecting with others are just a few of the many benefits of the apps that are available. Loneliness and depression are two huge problems in the world of geriatrics that can be helped significantly by keeping an older adult busy and engaged.

Bill pay, medication and other calendar reminders, and many other important tasks, can be addressed by simply introducing new technology to a parent or grandparent. These benefits and much more will help take your caregiving to a different level. They will help take burdens off your shoulders, and will allow the whole family to be more fully involved in the parent’s life. We hope this information on choosing a device, setting it up, and teaching a parent to use it has been helpful and that you are ready to get started today.

Joan Shelley, AGPCNP-BC, a Marquette Graduate, ANCC Board Certified in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care, has joined Dr Fitzgerald at Lake Country Private Medical as a health care provider and is currently accepting new patients. Adding to years of Critical Care, Joan has over 23 yrs experience in the Oconomowoc area with home care and hospice patients. She is excited to be able to provide in clinic as well as home visits.

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