In our global community, families often live miles away from their loved ones. Visits are sometimes infrequent. Time for writing letters or making phone calls is more limited than we would like. For many of us, technology provides a viable solution to this problem. Texts, emails, short video chats and social media offer a way for us to stay connected, tuned in and involved with our family and friends.

Who Uses Technology

When we think of technology, most of us picture a younger person using a smart phone, tablet or computer. After all, the younger generations is “tech savvy”. They can easily understand which apps to use for what and how to access their favorite social media sites from virtually any platform. Many people are surprised to learn that seniors can also benefit from technology. Tablets in particular are great tools for staying in touch with family caregivers or grandchildren who live miles away.

Tablets Help Senior Citizens Keep in Touch

To better understand the usefulness of tablets for senior citizens, let’s take a quick look at these devices. In general, they are larger than smart phones. This makes them easier for people to navigate even when eyesight is poor. Tablets function with touch screen technology which means a senior does not need to understand how to use a keyboard in order to makes use of them.

Gifting a Tablet to an Aging Loved One

If you have decided to purchase a tablet for your grandparents, it is a good idea to plan to set up the device before gifting it to them. Add the apps that you think they will want to use on the front screen. In general, try to keep things simple with limited apps so that the screen does not look confusing or cluttered. This will make it easier to navigate and more likely that they will use the device.

Here are some ideas of apps to add to your grandparent’s tablet:

  • FaceTime, Skype or a similar video conferencing app
  • A shared photo app: Family members can add photos to it and everyone can view the images from different devices
  • Social media apps including Facebook or Instagram: While there are many other social media platforms available, try to keep it simple by limiting the ones you add to only one or two so that your loved one does not feel overwhelmed or confused when trying to use them.
  • Online games: Words with Friends, Draw Something or other favorites that your senior loved one can play with you from miles away
  • Goodreads: This is a good pick if your grandparent loves to read. Here, you can make book suggestions, give them access to reviews and even start a family book club where you can discuss what you are all reading.

Getting Your Loved One Off to the Right Start

After you gift the tablet to your senior loved one, plan on spending a few hours with them showing them how to use it and explaining the various apps. Consider a test run while you are in the home where they make contact with a loved one to see exactly how the device works. After you return home, having someone local to assist with any questions or trouble shooting needs can be helpful. This might be another family member, a helpful neighbor or even a professional in home caregiver who spends time with the senior on a regular basis.

There is a learning curve involved in understanding and effectively using technology. However, with some time and patience and by choosing a user-friendly platform like an iPad or other tablet, technological devices can help your loved one to feel connected and enjoy the next best thing to face-to-face time with family and friends as they age in place.

Salus Homecare San Diego encourages seniors everywhere to give technology a try and experience the many benefits that it offers.

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