Tablets as ‘socializers’ for older adults

Long-time reader and now guest contributor John Boden of ElderIssues LLC and developer of the LifeLedger, reasons that if young children can use tablets fairly meaningfully, so can older adults at home or in senior communities. This is adapted from one of his series of ‘Caregiver Tips’ available via opt-in at

Socialize With Technology: Tablets and iPads

If babies can use iPads, so can the very old.

Tablets and iPads are everywhere – EXCEPT – with nursing home patients.

This must be the season for me to have “aha!” moments. Last month it was while reading “Still Alice” and this month it was while visiting a nursing home where Sue told me she liked playing Scrabble but it was hard to find people to play with.

I am sure it is hard in a nursing home where you have to find another patient to play with, have someone set up the board in a place that is quiet and then have someone else help you and your partner get there. Even then the chances of finishing a game are problematic with the routine of the facility having priority.

All these obstacles are immediately removed when you pick up an iPad or tablet. Partners abound online. You can play for ten minutes or ten hours, and with one person or ten. And of course there are all kinds of games available besides Scrabble. AARP has gathered a good selection which you can find here.

Tech phobia is a common excuse from elders when first introduced to an iPad or tablet, but it is easy to overcome. The best method is having a grandchild show them how to do it. If you can have two tablets, the elder can try it while watching the other being used. How can they resist making the picture larger or smaller with their fingers? And that is all it takes to set the hook.

Two cautions:

  1. Start very slowly. They will pick up the pace when they are ready.
  2. Get a lock to secure it with a cable (available online) so it can be used and stored without being unlocked

John Boden is also the author of Klondike Playboy, a memoir of his service as a US Marine and helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.

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