A common question for seniors when it comes to technology is where to start.  Many seniors have been convinced of the value of technology, but when they go strolling through the aisles of an electronic store, they become overwhelmed quickly.  For many, it is difficult to decipher who and what to trust in those environments.  So, rather than try to navigate this convoluted path, many simply walk out of the store feeling overwhelmed and never turn back.  

However, knowing what your needs are and having an idea of what you are seeking before beginning the shopping experience can greatly reduce the stress.  

Seniors and family members alike are usually confused about what type of electronic device is best for seniors.  For the average senior, we recommend a tablet.  We say this because tablets are designed to be user-friendly, portable, low maintenance, and generally contain all the tools seniors will need.  Let me elaborate.

Tablets are User-Friendly

Tablets are designed to be easy to use, to understand, and to customize. For someone with little to no experience with technology, tablets are significantly easier to get started on.  Leaving off the mouse, keyboard and other accessories tends alleviate the initial overload of starting with technology.

Since tablets are equipped with touchscreens, they are easy to operate for beginners.  Often in computer lessons, seniors struggle to master the mouse if they have never used one before.  Additionally, since there is no built-in keyboard, there are no shortcut keys to be memorized or complicated buttons to remember.  Once the tablet is turned on, all controls are done through the screen.  Simply tap on the option you desire. With preinstalled app stores containing thousands of free apps and thousands of others for just a few dollars, tablets can be used for almost any conceivable purpose.

Furthermore, tablets come in many different sizes.  From pocket-sized to large screens, tablets can be adjusted based on the lifestyle of the one who will be using it.  On-the-go?  A small tablet that can easily be slipped into a pocket or handbag may be perfect for you or your loved one, with a screen around seven inches.  Slower paced?  A mid-sized tablet with a nine to ten-inch screen may fit your lifestyle best.  More of a homebody? If you’ll be home most of the time, and will be using your tablet for things like reading and watching videos, consider a larger tablet screen.  There are tablets with screens as large as 18-inches, reducing eye strain with small text.  However, the portability factor will be considerably reduced at this size.

Tablets are Portable 

One of the most valuable benefits of a tablet is how easy it is to transport. This is because the average weight of tablets under two pounds.  Times have changed! Even those with mobility challenges can easily tuck a tablet in their purse, in a wheelchair, or on a tray attached to a walker. As the world continues to evolve, most medical offices, stores and even restaurants provide free Wi-Fi (or wireless internet networks).  Our grandparents use their tablets in waiting rooms every time they go see their family doctor. My grandmother simply slips hers into her purse and takes it out when she arrives.

While they are in their home, my grandfather can easily prop his tablet up on the counter as he cooks, use it in his lap on the couch or even in bed. Although, most people are not going to take an electronic device to bed, tablets allow for that flexibility if the occasion arises. 

Tablets are Low Maintenance

Additionally, tablets are extremely low maintenance.  For many seniors, understanding the basics of operating a new piece of electronic equipment can be overwhelming.  By the time you add on various maintenance tasks, they can feel as if using the device is simply not worth it.  Other than some protective gear and charging when the battery gets low there is almost no maintenance required for tablets. 

Battery life for tablets is remarkably good.  The average laptop gets just a few hours of usage without charging.  However, the average tablet can run for well over ten hours without a cord.  This allows for significant freedom while using tablets. 

Unlike a laptop or desktop, tablets rarely, if ever, fall prey to viruses.  This eliminates the need for a yearly anti-virus subscription.  Additionally, many expensive software producers have created free versions of popular software for tablets eliminating yet another expense.  When apps do require a monetary investment, the cost is generally reduced to just a few dollars rather than the hundreds required for the identical software on computers.

Tablets are All Inclusive

Finally, tablets are ideal for seniors because many accessories are built-in.  Rather than having cords and plug-ins for different accessories, tablets have built-in microphones, cameras, and speakers. This makes video-chatting a breeze for even the most inexperienced of users.

With all that being said, tablets are a truly stellar option for people of any age but especially ideal for seniors.  They are a wonderful tool for those needing to connect with friends and family or even those who just want to stay up-to-date on the news. 

Now, that you are a bit more versed on the benefits of a tablet, jot down your lifestyle’s needs or those of your loved one.  This list can be used to define what type of device you or your loved one needs.  What’s most important to you?  Screen size so you can read the text without straining your eyes? Portability so you can take it anywhere?  Or battery life so you don’t have to fool with chargers all that often?  Or perhaps your lifestyle calls for a different set of needs.  With this list in hand, the next trip into the electronics store doesn’t have to be aimless. Finding a device perfect for you or your loved one, doesn’t have to feel like a maze.  Once your needs are defined, your options are greatly reduced.  With this information in hand, you can simply look for the tablet that has the qualities you need.

For us, once we defined our budget and battery life needs we were left with two good options.  The choice was then made by holding the tablets in store, feeling which felt good in our hands and we were done.

When utilized correctly, technology can empower people to have fuller lives and stronger relationships.  Tablets can be a powerful tool in this journey.

Article written by Charlie and Victory Harbin with Tech Nav