If you like this post, read some of the other descriptions of our Father/Daughter iPad for Dad adventures — iPad for Dad, #1, iPad for Dad, #2, iPad for Dad, #3, iPad for Dad, #4, iPad for Dad, #5, iPad for Dad, #6, iPad for Dad, #7, iPad for Dad, #8, iPad for Dad, #9, iPad for Dad, #10, iPad for Dad, #11, iPad for Dad, #12, iPad for Dad, #13, iPad for Dad, #14, iPad for Dad, #15, iPad for Dad, #16, iPad for Dad, #17 , iPad for Dad, #18, iPad for Dad, #19, iPad for Dad, #20, iPad 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.
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
- Bob McCluskey has a great review, A Little More About the iPad for Senior Citizens: It’s Not Quite a Laptop But It’s Close and It’s Cool!, over at Senior Technology News.
- These iPad guided tours from Apple are helpful.
- The San Francisco Chronicle ran an interesting article, iPad Appears to be Clicking With Seniors, about a senior who uses the device.
- The Gadget Hound at Yahoo posted a story, Will iPad be a Hit With the Elderly?, about a 99-year-old woman who is using an iPad.
- At the Home Care Blog, Kathy Johnson, Ph.D., explains why she thinks the iPad can be a hit with seniors.
- Masie Center iPad Learning Lab blog. This blog is probably best for adult children to get background and ideas, at least at the beginning.
- This CNET posting comparing iTunes and Amazon electronic book files is a useful guide for us to use as we proceed through the iPad learning and downloading process.