iPad for Dad, #3 – After the First Lessons

Apple Computer Image

If you like this post, read some of the other descriptions of our Father/Daughter iPad for Dad adventures — iPad for Dad, #1iPad for Dad, #2iPad for Dad, #3,  iPad for Dad, #4iPad for Dad, #5iPad for Dad, #6,  iPad for Dad, #7iPad for Dad, #8,  iPad for Dad, #9iPad for Dad, #10iPad for Dad, #11iPad for Dad, #12iPad for Dad, #13,  iPad for Dad, #14,  iPad for Dad, #15iPad for Dad, #16,  iPad for Dad, #17 , iPad for Dad, #18,  iPad for Dad, #19iPad for Dad, #20iPad for Dad, #21 and iPad for Dad, # 22.
On Saturday I visited my parents. Dad is using his iPad a lot.

What He’s Used So Far

Dad regularly uses the yellow electronic legal pad, the New York Times application, the WGBH application, and the iBook program, though he wanted a lot more instruction on the book reading. He easily searches with Safari, looking up topics of all types. In my absence my mom went online and printed out a number of instructions for various iPad functions, and my dad keeps these pages nearby.

iPad E-mail

As we started with the new iPad lessons, Dad asked to begin using e-mail. So we downloaded the Comcast application from iTunes (currently an iPhone app), inserted his login name and password, and learned the basics, all while sitting in comfort on the couch. Beforehand I alerted several family members in various geographic locations, so five people were busily sending e-mail back and forth all afternoon. Dad was especially excited to get an e-mail from his granddaughter. We sent and received at least 20 and maybe as many as 25 messages. Interestingly when we e-mailed an article from the New York Times to his Comcast account on the iPad, the article links were not live — an interesting discovery that we haven’t figured out at this point.


So what are the hardest parts?  Well, he continues to dislike pointing with his index finger. Eventually he may become adept at using two or three fingers, but for now the fingers that he is not intending to use frequently drag on the touchscreen and activate things on their own. Also, the shift button has an up arrow which is disconcerting. Why can’t it just say shift?  With so many other touch buttons to explore, Dad wishes he had a roadmap. I’d love to give him a roadmap, but each application is slightly different — something frustrating for him. When he drags an extra finger, even slightly, the iPad goes off on its own journey.

The Bible application continues to be challenging, largely because there are so many options, so many ways to search, and various versions or translations that can easily substitute for one another with just a small extra swish of a finger. Dad can be reading in one version of the Bible and accidentally end up in another one. This may take a bit more time, though the app’s wide-ranging options will be pleasing once he is more sure of himself.

A challenge for me is not having an iPad to master at the same time. I hope to purchase one, but I want to see the entire line before I make a decision about what to own. If I also owned an iPad, troubleshooting over the phone would be so much easier. Moreover, I wish I could make the 100 mile drive to my parents’ house more than every couple of weeks.

Good Learning Concept

When he has a problem or just gets confused about what to do next, I encourage Dad to think of the little round navigation button at the bottom of the iPad as a way to escape and start over. This neatly solves the problem, and often starting over solves the dilemma. Another useful way that Dad learns is by watching my mistakes. When I try to show him something, it is common for me to have to make a correction or start over, just like he does. It’s hard work to learn new skills no matter what age you are.

Old Headphones Don’t Work

We also discovered that his old headphones would not connect to the iPad. I’m back home now, so tomorrow I’ll purchase some new ones for him and mail them.

Real Books for Seniors to Purchase (not electronic)

An increasing number of iPad “how-to” books are available at bookstores and at online book-purchasing sites. These real, non-electronic books with paper pages to turn and hands-on indices to consult will continue to be important learning tools for seniors. Soon I’ll review several of these books on this blog in order to figure out which one or two books could be useful to my father.

A Few Links on Seniors and the iPad

9 thoughts on “iPad for Dad, #3 – After the First Lessons

  1. I’m a senior in the 80’s and happy to find this site as I have been comparing all of the e readers in the past week. I want one for Bible study, newspaper reading, and book reading mostly. The Nook at 250.00 has internet access but you must buy the books. And the Kindle is recommended highly. But it looks like the iPad is just what I need. So please explain the 500.00 iPad vs. the 1000.00 iPad. I do not want phone or a monthly charge so would the 500 priced model provide what you are describing in the iPad for Dad posts? Ms. Fuchs BarbFu@Verizon.net


    • The iPad that I purchased for my dad was the cheapest wi-fi wireless model with 16 GB of memory. This means he can use it on his home wi-fi, and he can also use it anywhere there is wireless that he has permission to access (Starbucks, for instance, or the home of a friend). He is not going to use his iPad at the beach or at other places where he would need the 3GS iPad which costs more and requires cellular access and an extra fee to ATT.

      I chose 16 GB of memory because he is going to use the iPad to read books, access the web, send e-mail and maybe watch some YouTube videos — all activities that require lower amounts of memory and storage. He is not going to download huge video games or movies which would require massive amounts of storage. 16 GB of storage equals a lot of books.

      If I were buying one for myself, which I hope to do sometime, I will probably get the same wi-fi model, but with 32 GB of memory, since I might download some movies, though not a lot of them.

      Here is a link at about.com that with iPad prices and an understandable memory specifications chart. http://ipod.about.com/od/beforeyoubuy/a/ipad-model-price-comparison.htm


  2. I am so excited to hear that others have purchased iPads for senior parents. Please take a few minutes to let us know how it is going and send it along to this blog.


  3. Got a 3G unit for my Aunt so she wouldn’t have to deal with any wifi issues. She just loves it, in part because I spent days pre-ironing out the problems (like making huge p-touch labels for the back showing what switch does what, and choosing a set of apps which have simple functionality without too many weird user-interface foibles. The inconsistent UI is a HUGE drawback for seniors and those with limited computer experience – every app is like its own little video game, with its own set of controls. For instance, in the web browser, you gesture to zoom, and press links to change pages – but in the book reader, you gesture to change pages, and have to unhide a button to select typeface and size in order to zoom. I had to write a 14-page guide so she could navigate the thing, and yes, her mind is sharp as a tack, with an excellent memory.)

    The _one_ thing that makes the iPad usable for her at all is a pair of Isotoner gloves with the tip of the index finger cut out of each one. This lets her rest her hands on the screen without triggering random touch gestures – she uses both hands for any multi-touch gestures she needs. Since she has essential tremor, the iPad would be unusable without the gloves – I highly recommend that method for anyone with hand control issues. As a plus, the gloves are super-helpful for arthritis pain and swelling!


  4. Great idea about the gloves!

    Yes, inconsistency is a problem. I wish there were shortcuts other than making out own materials. Still, as you can see from my dad’s posting in iPad for Dad, #9, things are working out well, albeit slowly. The iPad is so small, sleek, and light weight, etc.


  5. Hi,

    I am a senior living in Ottawa Canada.

    I have been involved in computing since the mid-sixties and I have seen a lot of exciting changes in the high-tech world. But none is as promising as the Apple iPad.

    I am helping seniors to discover the pleasure of computing with this tool every day.

    I am writing to draw your attention to five apps that comprise ‘The Simple Suite’ and are available on the App Store. These apps were designed specifically with seniors in mind and simplify the iPad user experience. I’m sure that these apps are too elementary for your Dad but they may help others.

    To find out more, search for ‘seniors’ on the App Store or visit http://www.thesimplesuite.com.

    If I can provide you with more information, please get in touch.

    Thank you,

    Paul Rhoades


  6. i just found your website tonight and i will be following it closely. my dad (who died three years ago this month) and i were on computers big time. my 89-year-old mom avoided them like the plague. i’m currently getting ready to purchase and set up an ipad for her for christmas. i’m sure she will love it, and following your experience with your dad will help me. thanx so much for your blog! i and my mom and my (very computer saavy) daughter live in albuquerque new mexico


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.