I just got my 70+ year-old dad a 3G enabled iPad. I was hesitant at first because bro had actually got him a computer earlier and after a couple of months he found it daunting. And being from the thrifty older generation where they had to work really hard to earn the $$$, a couple of months on mobile broadband when he had the computer put him on a warpath with the broadband vendors. And that computer sat there, collecting dust after that.
Anyway, after seeing that he was spending most of his time at home sleeping, I finally took the plunge and got him the whole nine yards... Ipad with broadband subscription included. It's much easier for them to use when they cannot see the cost of subscription. Anyway, the misunderstanding about the broadband cost stemmed more from his ignorance of how they charge more than anything.
And this is my observation after almost a month. iPads are good for the older generation grown on typewriters, simply because it's uncomplicated. Problem? There's only one button to press and it takes you home. But still there are many stories I could tell you of the problems I had with Dad during the occasional times when problems came up.
Dad likes to read news.... and the first thing I did after getting the iPad was to set it up with all the popular news aggregators, feeds. I went for the popular ones - Flipboard and Zite. Plus I downloaded whatever news app that I thought might contain the news he would like to read. I had shown him Twitter on my own iPad and he liked being able to read the different news from there. So, I set up an account for him. He keeps confusing Twitter with FaceBook. Because he has some medical problems, I made sure I subscribed to sections on health, fitness, diets, nutrition on Zite so that he can be reminded to take the necessary care via being reminded through reading.
I also put a Bible App in... It reads the Bible aloud in Mandarin. Older people usually complain of eye problem. Being able to listen instead of reading is a good substitute. For good measure, I put in a Radio app too. He has found the Radio app entertaining, he said. He listened through the Book of Matthew in the first month.
A 3G enabled iPad means I can set up Skype too. I talk more to my parents now and I can see them. Mom has more aversion to picking up something new but for the past weeks, Dad has been able to bring the iPad to her and I can see her and talk to her while she potters around or does her routine exercises. Again for good measure, I installed Viber too since Skype sometimes goes off... Viber is actually for the smart phone but it gets the job done too on the iPad.
I am not around to teach Dad expand his iPad know-how. But what I have found a challenge out of this situation is it has forced me to think of ways to start a long distant teaching thing. And I started using pictures! Those with experience teaching older people will probably understand how challenging it can be to teach them new tricks where techie stuff is concerned. One must remember that it is hard for the elderly to embrace technology. It is difficult for them to remember what does what and goes where. I have been using Skype with Dad for a month, and each time I tell him to switch on the video, he tells me that there are no 'buttons' for him to touch. It also requires a great amount of patience.
I capture screens on the iPad and using apps like Skitch, I would circle/highlight the areas he need to touch and fill in. Written instructions are also written or typed beside the highlighted or circled areas. Then I would send the series of pictures in sequence over Message or Viber. For someone who is not tech phobic, it would be a piece of cake. But believe me, even with all the instructions laid down in pictures, Dad still found it difficult. Yet, he has said that the iPad has been a wonderful tool because he is able to read so many things. He was telling me that he wants to learn how to put in his comments on the some of the issues that he has been reading. LOL!
I put in a Chinese Chess app too but so far he has not taken a bite on that yet. But for those who like Sudoku, word games or just enjoy some moments of fiddling around, I think there is great potential there too.
I am convinced that the iPad is a great tool for the elderly. The simplicity of a closed system made many of the tasks which seemed impossible on the computer available to them... all just a touch or two away.