86 years of experience + iPad = ???

Discussion in 'iPad' started by vini-vidi-vici, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. vini-vidi-vici macrumors 6502

    Jan 7, 2010
    This past weekend, I visited my 86 year old mother-in-law, and set her up with the iPad. I’ve posted about my plans before, and thought I’d just give a quick update in case anyone was curious, for whatever reason…

    She’s been using webTV for a number of years (technically, now MSNTV2). That works OK for e-mail, but is very limited for surfing. Since there is no mouse, you have to use the arrow keys to go from link to link. Plus, the TV screen has very limited resolution, so the formatting of most things is a mess. But, I’ll have to say… If you’re going to use your TV for all your internet needs, MSNTV2 is about as good as you can do, I think. It is easy to use.

    She’s never used a mouse, so the idea of setting her up with a regular computer would have been problematic. The whole concept of programs, files, folders, etc. was just something that I didn’t want to get started with. Plus, we live 2 hours away, so can’t be on-site for tech support calls when she clicked on something strange.

    The iPad promises to overcome both those problems. The touch screen is a lot more intuitive, and the OS is so simple, you can’t “break things” very easily, or get lost. Simple instructions: If you get messed-up, just hit the button and start over.

    So, it was most of a day to go through the iPad, and show her how it works, and what to press to do what. We started out with a solitare game to get the feel of the touch screen, then checked out a couple other apps so she could see what’s possible… then moved to e-mail. We got her a keyboard dock, as the typing experience is a lot better on that. Finally, we showed her how to search for things on google, click on links, and use the back button on the browser to go back.

    It was interesting to see the iPad through her eyes. Some random observations:

    • When you compose an e-mail and the iPad thinks something is misspelled (i.e. if it’s just some odd word), it underlines the word with a wavy line. She was concerned that the person who got the e-mail would see this wavy red line, or not. She asked about this a few times. No, it’s just a guide for you… This isn’t a concept I thought needed explaining, but I guess it does…
    • The touchscreen is really sensitive. There were a few times where she was reaching up to touch something, and accidentally hit something else first, and didn’t even feel her finger hit the screen. Then, she wondered why it was doing what it was doing… This could be a problem, but hopefully, she’ll get better as time goes.
    • The mail app is way better in landscape vs. portrait. But, if you’re using the keyboard dock to do mail, you’re kind of stuck with the portrait view.
    • I think she was mostly trying to memorize the different screens and which button did what on which screen. It’s like she wanted to know the steps you do to send an e-mail, etc. This is quite a bit different than how most people approach this – the steps you take depend on “where you are”. I was thinking about this… most equipment does work with a series of definite steps. If you’re going to start the dishwasher, you always hit the same sequence of buttons. But, with a computer, it’s quite different – it’s more like navigating a series of streets… there are many paths to get where you need to go, and how to “get there” depends on where you currently are. Anyway, it wasn’t something I’d thought much about previously.
    • One of the bigger challenges was trying to learn the different gestures, and when to do each; swipe, press, pinch, reverse pinch, etc… She would often try to swipe when she should press. Plus, with some things when you press-and-hold you get some other function. Being 86, some of her presses are long ones, while she thinks if that’s really what she wants to do. If you press and hold an app, when trying to open it, it makes all the icons “jiggle” so you can move them around and/or delete them. This led to another “what happened? What’s it doing?” moment…
    • When you connect the iPad to the keyboard dock, there is no satisfying “clicking” feel/sound. The iPad does make a sound, which helps, but sometimes it’s not clear if the iPad is a little crooked in the dock.
    • I had anticipated that it’d take some learning to realize it was a touchscreen, and not a “press screen”… that it doesn’t matter how hard you press. But, she figured this out very quickly.
    • We found and printed the gigantic iPad manual. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I’m not sure if she’ll ever need to use it, but it’s there in case she does.
    • Her neighbor was criticizing the iPad before ever seeing it (why would you want to get that, etc). But then it came out that her neighbor had never actually heard of the iPad, or knew what it was. Funny.

    She won’t have a computer to sync this to. I’ll just sync it every now and then when I visit. I don’t think this will be a problem. The iPad will be on my iTunes account… So, I guess she could go crazy and start downloading apps and music and books… Hmm… might have to change my password ;-)

    So, it’s been a couple days now… Things seem so far, so good. She says she thinks the iPad is “a keeper”. The main problem is that it’s “my” iPad that she’s borrowing… until she decides if she’ll really give up the WebTV for this. So, I’m iPad-less & coping as best I can until we get her one of her own… or I get a new one (3G? ;-)

    Also, it seems I’m possibly being volunteered to set up other similarly experienced users with an iPad tutorial & their own iPad. I’m not sure how that’ll all work, but I guess we’ll see!
  2. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    Great post vvv - thanks for sharing the experience. I have a feeling when my folks (70s/80s) see my iPad they'll want to replace their macs. They have iPhones too so they're pretty familiar with the basics. Good stuff!
  3. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I agree, great post, vvv!

    It's nice to be reminded of what so many of us computer users take for granted and I think remembering lessons learned from your post will help the next time I try to explain computer-related things to elderly relatives.
  4. jameskk macrumors regular

    Sep 22, 2003
    South Carolina
    Thanks for sharing. I got one for my mother in law who is only 53 but is in a nursing home due to a stroke. She had a verizon net book but it took 5 min or more just to start the thing up. Steve Jobs wasn't kidding when he said that net books weren't very good at anything. Now with the iPad she just clicks the home button and boom she's in business. Luckily the nursing home has wifi. She is really impressed.
  5. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

    Jul 8, 2008
    my house
    I'm glad to hear it's working out. Now, if I can only convince my mom to get it. She's only 50 and thinks it's 'too much' :rolleyes:
  6. riverfreak macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2005
    Thonglor, Bangkok
    Excellent, excellent post.

    Always interesting to see things that we consider intuitive through "naive" users' eyes. The whole concept of folders and windows and trash on desktop machines is, I'd say, from watching adult users new to the concept, substantively less than intuitive.

    The iPad is a great fit in these cases. And in cases when people don't want to screw with computer arcanca.

    Again, great post. Thanks for your observations.
  7. vini-vidi-vici thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 7, 2010
    One other thing... I think the iPad could give her a sense of "technological empowerment" that she hasn't had before. I have a sense that she's felt a bit left-behind by technology. Everyone else has laptops & desktops, while she has webTV. But, the iPad is state-of-the-art technology. She can feel "cool" and "with it" with the iPad... the fact that she can actually operate this brand new gizmo is further empowering. She actually has some piece of technology that everyone else is interested in checking out, she can actually be in the role of "technology teacher" when she shows this to her friends. All-in-all a positive experience.
  8. Richard A macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Great post, thanks for sharing. My in-laws have be "borrowing" mine for 2 weeks now. They are in SC and I'm in CA, helping them on it has been better then expected, considering we have been doing it over the phone.

    My only problem so far, is they haven't decided yet if they want to keep it or not. Afraid if I push them, they will return it.
  9. dvrk547 Guest

    Nov 4, 2009
    Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. I hope to buy one for my parents too. Only problem is that I have to set up a wireless router for them first :D
  10. paulisme macrumors 6502

    Dec 15, 2008
    Charleston, SC
    What were her thoughts on the lack of Flash support, multitasking, and the new rules governing the use of cross-compilers for App Store apps? :D
  11. mac-slap-happy macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2007
    Excellent post indeed!

    This is great, and I applaud your efforts to get her set up with the iPad! Please keep us posted on her progress as I would love to do the same for my grandparents. I've been wondering how they would adapt to the iPad. I think their PC is turned on maybe once per year at most.
  12. vini-vidi-vici thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 7, 2010
    I had to do this too. It was really simple though. I had an old Linksys that I wasn't using. She had DSL already for the webTV (It was dog slow & unreliable on dialup). I just plugged the DSL cable into the router, and that was pretty much it. I had done a little configuration of the router beforehand via my laptop, primarily:
    - turned it on G-mode only (turned off dual band)
    - No WEP/WPA security (signal doesn't extend much beyond her house anyway, and this would just be a potential hassle)
    - Configured the router to accept connections only from known devices - which includes the iPad, as well as my various wireless devices...

    Took all of 2 minutes.
  13. PhoneI macrumors 68000

    Mar 7, 2008
    I will be doing the same exact thing for my 65 year old mother. She has a Mac Mini she never uses because its to complicated for her. Also, she only has dial up. I figured I will get her the 3G iPad. Even at $30 a month, its cheaper than getter her a cable modem for WiFi.
  14. j3yq macrumors 6502


    Dec 16, 2007
    Id like to get my mother one, she has a Computer but doesn't use it because its too complicated for her.
  15. wgary macrumors member

    Sep 18, 2007
    Excellent point! Hadn't thought about that. Sounds like some of us are going through the same processing. Thanks to everyone for sharing!

    BTW, I have been very impressed with the accessibility options -- zooming, reading the screen, and so forth. I'm hoping this will be a go for my parents!
  16. vini-vidi-vici thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 7, 2010
    Not only that, you might be able to get away with the $15/month option if all she does is e-mail and light surfing... We'd considered this in our case, but the DSL is like $20/month, and faster than 3G. Plus, she wouldn't really be traveling anywhere with it.
  17. DaBrain macrumors 65816


    Feb 28, 2007
    ERIE, PA
    Great Write up Vini,

    My Mom's 84 and had a stroke 7 years ago. IM her primary caregiver and it's real difficult at times showing her things with her short term memory failing. I got her on PC's 20 years ago, so that helps. Recently I got her a Mac-Mini but the learning curve at this point does not make things easy. If it wasn't for her short term memory, it might not be so bad.

    Well she Loved my iPad and right off the bat she wants one. However, because the stroke messed up her left side, she can only use one hand. Otherwise, this would be the almost perfect device for her. One thing that keeps her busy, is she plays all the pogo on line games a lot and I tried to use Pogo but theirs games will not play on my iPad.

    If that ever changes, I thought of looking for an articulating arm that I can mount on the wall permanently in her living area. That way she can either lay down or sit up and just swing the iPad into place for her use.

    So in the final analysis 2 main issues stop me from getting her one. Vision impairment and the games she plays all the time on line won't run on the iPad. The games thing is a biggie for her. It's the only thing that keeps her occupied that works for her. Well, at least she can still use her Mac-Mini.

    Really enjoyed your post. Many people I discuss with, being a single guy and primary caregiver with no help, just have no idea how challenging it can be.

    I do my best but there are trying times--))) But hey, she's my Mom and would and has done the same for me--)))

    I just wish I could make the iPad work for her. It would solve a lot of issues.

    Peace! ;)
  18. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    I'm getting an iPad for my 65 year old mother as well. She has a 24" iMac presently and loves it, and she wants both a laptop and a Kindle-type of thing, so both she and I think the iPad will be just the thing.
  19. logista macrumors member


    Mar 25, 2010
    Ann Arbor, MI
    My 86-yo MIL hadn't touched a computer since 1982, when she took a class and as a result decided that she'd never understand it.

    I gave her an iPad (she lives with us), and while she will likely never send an email, she *does* use it. She's not particularly mobile, and mostly spends her days reading mysteries.

    I've noticed (as did the OP) that she tries to "memorize" what she's supposed to do on each screen/in each app, and hasn't yet figured out how to extend the knowledge from one app to another (I have explained about the search bar in 3 different apps about a zillion times now). The only thing I think she's confident in doing is playing Scrabble, and even then she doesn't find the interface at all intuitive. She has no idea what an X in a circle means (in Scrabble it closes a popup screen), but she figured out that if she ever got stuck she could just go to the Home screen and then get back into her game.

    She also had difficulty in having her touch register no matter how soft or hard she touched the screen. We found a Pogo Sketch works quite well for her. She can't do multi-touch gestures, but frankly I don't think she could grasp the concept even if her hands worked properly.

    Eventually I'd like to get her to the point that she can do some basic internet browsing, but she has no idea what a hyperlink is and how to follow it... all in good time, I think. I may see if I can print out the iPad manual for her. She won't read it, but I think she might feel more comfortable having it there next to her chair.

    DaBrain: You might want to find out what it is about the Pogo games that your mom likes -- is it the games themselves, or the community around them? If it's just the games, you might be able to convert her to iPad/iPhone versions. If it's the community, well, that's a harder thing. I wish you luck. Being primary caregiver is tough enough, I can't imaging being sole caregiver. Hang in there.
  20. pruppert macrumors 6502


    Jan 30, 2008
    Great post, OP.

    I can't wait to show my 3G to my fifty-something, non-techie parents when I get it and see their reactions to using it. They live in a rural area with only dial-up access but they do have decent AT&T 3G coverage. If they like it, maybe I'll pass mine onto them when I upgrade to the second generation.

    BTW, good vibes to all in this thread looking out for their loved ones.
  21. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Thanks for the informative post.

    I think that the current older generation will have the most trouble with technology. Those who are born today, will grow up with it surrounding so it will always be something that they are familiar with as they get older.
  22. ClaireL macrumors 6502a


    Apr 4, 2010
    New Jersey
    Great post! My 89 year old mother borrows my iPad to read the Bible and use the ABC App to watch "V" if she misses it. She likes to watch YouTube videos also and seems to like my iPad!

    My brother was surprised when I told him that our mom was using my iPad, we both laughed a bit. She really gets something out of it! I'm sure some of you have already seen the YouTube video of the 99 year old woman who was rockin her iPad! I think it is so cute!
  23. mmacc macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2009
    Bluegrass State
    When I first got a computer (Apple IIGS) I was afraid of the beast! But, after awhile I learned one thing and then another and it became easier. One of the things that I did at first was to create a file which I named "conflicts". Even today I still have/use a conflict file a few times a year.

    What I highly recommend for the elderly is to use a notepad app. where you can write anything important that you learned that you might forget later on. Besides recording newly learned important things I would put "problems with solutions". I would state the problem first and right below it I would type in the solution after I discovered it. You just never know when a similar/same problem will come up later and then you're stuck. With the "conflict" file (or on a notepad app.) that you created it could be a lifesaver!

    I still remember when I got the Apple IIGS it took me awhile to get it through my head what the difference was between "Save" and "Save As". I look back on those days and smile.
  24. doublebullout macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2007
    Shreveport, LA
    Outstanding thread and observations.

    I do a lot of training of nurses and physicians of all ages for our EHR system. I see the same thing in older nurses -- they always want to write down notes with all the steps in the right order. Younger nurses tend to learn how the screen objects work and then use those concepts to figure out how to do something. (They are also the first to complain when they find behavior in the system that isn't consistent.) Right-clicking to get a context-sensitive menu is a great example of this.

    Strangely enough, I've found that the physicians who are hardest to please are the younger ones. They are used to graphical, easy, fast interfaces like iPhone or Android. If the screen isn't easy to use quickly or requires too many "clicks", the younger physicians give up on EHR. The older ones just accept that the program works the way it works, and they adapt to it.
  25. Jaro65 macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    This is a great thread. Thank you OP for sharing. I wish I could an iPad to work for my mom too, alas at this stage it is way beyond her mental acuity.

    Good luck! And be kind to your loved ones.

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