Seniors often find themselves being teased because many avoid technology. Many people assume this is because seniors are scared of using technology. Some even think the elderly lack the ability to grasp using technology! However, these assumptions are just plain ole wrong! The fact is that many seniors don’t feel like they have a reason to use technology. I mean, they have lived without it this long, right? So, why should they access the Internet or use a laptop or tablet computer lnow? However, once seniors understand how using a computer improves their life, many are quick to like using these new gizmos. But which device is best for seniors: a laptop or a tablet? In this article, I'll break it down for you.
Thanks to my friend Shaun for helping me out with this article. He works in the IT department at our local hospital and knows a lot about this technology stuff!
New technology like smartphones, tablets and social media, is only for the young, right? Seniors cannot learn new things like using a computer or a laptop, can they? These are common thoughts. And, many times, seniors are even the butt of jokes that make fun of their apparent lack of understanding of technology.
However, in reality, this lack of understanding is not at all based on fear of technology. Many seniors just do not know why they need to use it in the first place. The absence of any useful purpose for adopting new technology is an important reason why seniors choose not to add a laptop or tablet to their lives.
Here is another way to think about this problem. For seniors, learning to use a new piece of technology is like learning to drive a fast sports car. No one needs a sports car, right? Most of the good ones have manual transmissions. So, it’s a little frustrating at first. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes impossible to stop crusing around town. Similarly, once seniors get a feel for using technology, they may just find themselves riding down the Information Highway at breakneck speed!
For the elderly, desktop or laptop PCs are normally the only choices for getting online and using the Internet. These devices have been around for a while now. And, most seniors are already aware of laptops having seen family members use them or on TV. And, like most technology, there are some laptops that are easier to use than others. Here is the good and bad points for laptops vs tablets for seniors.
Laptops are portable. Simply close the screen and it can be carried with you nearly anywhere. But, some laptops are quite large and nearly 18" long. This may be difficult for some seniors to manage. Some are also heavy and require a good grip to hold onto safely.
Another drawback with laptops is that many functions require multiple steps when compared to a tablet or mobile device. For example, to check emails on a laptop, the senior would have to open a web browser, type in "www.googlemail.com" in the address bar. Then, when the page comes up, they would enter their email address and password. Yes, there are a few shortcuts to this process but it will still require multiple steps.
On the other hand, with a tablet the user would just have to touch the email icon with their finger. And, if their login info is saved, their email box opens right up.
Another problem with laptops is that hitting special key combos, such as “Ctrl”, “Alt” & “Delete” can be quite a task, especially for seniors suffering from arthritis or other such ailments.
Given these problems of a laptop, tablets are known as the easiest device for the elderly. They are much simpler to learn and use. The simple and intuitive touch screen interface is a big reason for that. Within a few years, computer tablets such as iPads have revolutionized mobile computing. They have made technology truly accessible to everybody. And, also useful to everyone - even seniors and elderly.
No more typing on bulky keyboards and clicking the ‘mouse’ to give the computer any commands. Especially since some people with arthrits have difficulty operating a mouse. With the latest iPad or a tablet, basic activities like browsing the Internet, reading the news, checking emails, listening to music, clicking photos, and sending messages and videos to others is now possible at the touch of a fingertip.
Using tablets and iPads, instead of laptops, just seems more convenient and natural for seniors. But there are other benefits of using a tablet for seniors. Studies have indicated that another reason for the popularity of tablets is that these mobile devices encourage the elderly to learn new actions and skillsets, while focusing on the things on hand.
Another important benefit: seniors are less likely to "mess something up" with a tablet. It is harder to accidently delete programs and icons with a tablet. Other benefits of tablet devices include :
One of the biggest advantages of using tablets is that it allows us to socialize with others. Easy to use apps for texting, voice calling and video chatting let seniors touch base with their loved ones in an instant. And, they do not even have to leave the comfort of their homes. In a way, tablets help connect people who live miles and miles away. This reduces loneliness and isolation with the press of an icon in a just a few seconds.
Tablets also help seniors learn and acquire new skills very easily. There are dozens of free and paid apps that cater to the interests of the seniors. New skills are learned by watching videos about their hobbies or even downloading a new movie. These taks that seem so simple to us, give seniors a sense of pride that does wonders for their self-esteem. This new way of learning and improving themselves has made tablet computing very popular among the seniors.
Tablets help people do many basic activities of daily life easier and quicker. Some examples are shopping for groceries, banking, or ordering food from a restaurant. These can be done right from the comfort of their homes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Banking, shopping, learning, socializing are all major activities that are covered by a simple tablet. No having to get dressed, drive to town, make the purchase, load up the car and drive back home. Some seniors are unable to do these types of tasks. So, it is safer for them to use technology for these.
Simply by downloading the right apps on your tablet devices, people can monitor their loved ones in real time. This includes aging parents and relatives. Seniors can also video chat with their doctors or emergency personnel in an emergency. And, get immediate help as needed.
With so many things going for tablet PCs, you are probably considering a tablet for you or your senior loved one. But, while shopping for a tablet or iPad for seniors, please keep these points in mind:
Screen size is one of the biggest differences between a smartphone and a tablet. Most smartphones try to crowd all information in a sub-5” screen. Many seniors have trouble seeing these small screens.
Not so, with tablets though! A bigger screen can mean the difference between seeing clearly or not seeing at all. This is key for seniors with failing eyesight. Look for tablets with at least a 10" screen for most seniors.
While it may seem like a small detail, look at the overall sizes of tablets. The weight is an important consideration too. Also, keep in mind that covers and add ons such as a keyboard will add to the total weight.
Another very important thing to think about is how easy the User Interface (UI) is to use. The two leading operating systems available today, iOS (available in all mobile Apple products) and Android (available in most other tablet devices, including Samsung). Each system has its own pros and cons. It would be best to have the elderly person try each of the systems before picking any certain one. The next section compares these operating systems to help you decide.
One of the first things you will need to decide when selecting a tablet is the Operating System (OS). There are 3 main choices available. All three perform basic tasks quite well. But, each one also has a few pros and cons.
Really though, there is no wrong choice. They are all much easier to use than past systems. A good idea might be to choose the one you are more familiar with so that you can help them out.
Here are the advantages & disadvantages of each OS:
The iPad is probably the most popular tablet, And, it has its own OS called, simply, iOS. It is used for all Apple mobile devices including iPads, iPods and iPhones. iOS has its own Apple Store where you can download over a million paid or free apps (third party software). iOS 10 is the current version at the time of this writing.
Android Operating System is another popular OS for tablets. It is made by Google and is usually found on several brands such as Samsung, Amazon, Asus and Huawei, etc. Like iOS, the Android OS was also made first for smartphones and then used for tablets as well. The latest version of the Android OS is called Nougat. Interesting fact: All Android OS versions usually have a dessert-related name!
The Windows 10 OS is the latest operating system for Windows tablets. A lot of companies, other than Microsoft, also offer tablets using the Windows 10 OS. However, the Windows OS is a late entrant into the tablet market and is trying to catch up.by offering a host of new features in their new OS. But, despite its efforts, it seems that Windows tablets are the ideal choice for people who want to do some really heavy-duty computing on their tablets. It is designed to do much more than just browse the internet and play games, etc.
So, now you have an idea what to expect from each of the three main types of tablet operating systems. Almost all of the three systems allow you to do similar activities. The difference lies in how easy it is to do these various tasks.
I think iOS is perhaps the most obvious choice of OS for the elderly given its ease of use and simplicity. Although iPads are priced higher than an inexpensive Android tablet, it provides a complete package of easy navigation with powerful built-in security features. iOS also offers millions of user-friendly apps.
Android comes in second place. The newest entrant - Windows 10 - while good, is more suited for business applications than for casual browsing and light reading by seniors.
With the correct apps downloaded on their tablets, seniors can easily do all of the following activities with the help of their tablets :
So, laptop or tablets for seniors? Because they are lighter to carry and easier to use, tablets are a better choice for seniors than laptops. Most are simply operated by touching a finger to a screen to access the desired apps. They are also small and lightweight enough to easily be carried through the house or even out and about.
There are 3 basic operating systems that each have their own plusses and minuses. Overall, iPads with the Apple iOS, are the easiest to use for seniors and the elderly. Yes, these tablets lacks some customization and are a little more expensive. But, they offer a complete package for older Americans.
Tell me about your experiences using a tablet or iPad with a senior. Do you use one yourself? Let me know what your recommendations are in the comments below!
I work daily with seniors and the elderly in my position as a wheelchair specialist at a home medical company. I see the struggle they have maintaining their independence and living their daily lives. Most are completely unaware of the options and products out there that can improve their independence, mobility, and safety in their home. I created this site to help seniors, elders, and their caregivers make smart buying decisions about the many independent living aids on the market.
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