My parents are both in their 80s and having to make changes in their lifestyle as they age. Their eyesight is deteriorating, they tire easily and they have arthritis in their hands. Keeping up with current affairs is important to them both and they both use the Internet every day.

They live in an apartment so there is little unused space. They used to have a desktop computer buy found that they have no room for it in their apartment. A desktop computer needs a desk, a computer chair, scanner, printer, monitor and miles of tangled cables connecting them all together.

The Laptop Solution

My mother had wanted a laptop for years and eventually got one. She could use the Internet from the comfort of her armchair, but it was not that comfortable sitting with a heavy laptop computer on her knee. The laptop was also awkward to move whenever she wanted to stand up. Mains cables and a mouse were just more clutter around her.

The Tablet Solution

This is where my mother is now. She has a basic iPad 2, not the latest all-singing and all-dancing 4G iPad 3 and she is happy. She loves the touch-screen interface and its light weight. When she stands up the iPad is easy to put down, with no mouse or power leads protruding from it. The screen is bright and clearer than the one she had on her rather basic laptop.

It did take her a while to adjust to the Apple™ way of doing things because she had only ever used Windows™ computers before. Any 10.1in tablet would have worked for her, but she was offered a used iPad 2 for a good price.

My mother uses her iPad the same way I use my laptop. It is always on, always connected to email and her facebook page. She has the Words With Friends app and usually has six games running at a  time to keep her mind occupied.

My father bought an iPad, too and loves that he can check his bank account every day without having to sit down creakily in front of the desktop computer that he used to use. He can see money moving in and out of his bank account all day, rather than just logging in once a day.

They both have Kindle e-readers but also have the Kindle app installed on their iPads and use those for most of their reading nowadays.

Internet Access

When they sold their house to move into their apartment my parents were dismayed to find that they would have to changes ISPs (not the term they use). They had been persuaded by a Virgin speed test to sign up for a Virgin broadband package where they used to live, but this service was not available in the village where their apartment is located.

They had been using Virgin TV and email addresses. It took my father a few months to master a new TV remote but they lost all their email records when they had to terminate their Virgin contract.

They are now set up with iCloud email addresses, even though that ties them into Apple™ for the rest of their lives. They are so happy with their iPads that they will happily stay with Apple’s iCloud and associated services.

The Moral?

Encourage your parents to buy a decent-sized tablet computer as they approach their dotage. It will help them keep their wits and stay connected with what is happening in the World around them.

Apps are available for anything. A chess app will let them play with each other across the room or with other family members who live hundreds of miles away. Video-conferencing apps mean that they can hold conversations face to face with people they have not met for many years.

Laptops are awkward and the technology gets in the way. A tablet has all of the benefits without any of the technology obstacles.