iPad app suggestions for seniors

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Funkbefgh, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Funkbefgh macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2011
    my grandmother has had a bad hip for years and recently contracted diabetes. she wants access to her sewing forums, magazines and e-mail with a minimum amount of effort (and without a smart-phone). I suggested she pick up a tablet and stylus, but any tablet can do all of those things. are there apps that anyone knows of that are directed towards the elderly or that would generally be useful/interesting to someone in their late-60's who doesn't get around much that would make the iPad a clear choice?
  2. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    Could you provide some more insight into her life please? For example if she likes making home videos of her family, iMovie is a must and only 4.99$. Does she like writing stories? Than Pages for 9.99 would be nice as well as the keyboard dock. Gaming? Perhaps angry birds? Infinity blade?
  3. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    If you have access to the iTunes App Store, the best advice would be to explore it with your grandmother. Based solely on the volume of apps available, of course, the iPad is a clear choice. But while in the absence of other more specific data that may be your only reference point, there's no guarantee that the iPad will provide much more than other options in terms of targeted applications.

    I suspect that your grandmother may find that the web is her greatest source of resources. And any of the various tablets can provide her with that access (along with email).

    You're certainly most likely to find the iPad is the best alternative if you have to make a decision based on limited information. And given that the iPad has the most stable OS with fewer unexpected glitches that your grandmother may find difficult to deal with I'd say you're unlikely to find a better option than the entry level iPad.

    On the other hand, if your timeframe extends for a few months, the Amazon Fire may meet your grandmother's requirements. It doesn't have a camera, but on that score the iPad's advantage is "face time" since I doubt she'll be using the iPad for photo shoots. Otherwise, assuming she has internet access that can support a wifi connection in her home, the Fire might be a good alternative for her.
  4. FloatingBones macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    An iPad and a gift subscription to audible.com would be wonderful.

    Lumosity has games many seniors like to play; they're available as iPad apps.

    There are a bunch of interesting podcasts on all sorts of crafts. I'm an occasional listener to WeaveCast ("the place where warp meets weft" :)). Podcasts are a great way to connect for everyone and especially for people who don't get out much.

    I looked around a bit on appshopper; I don't see a bunch of apps dedicated directly to seniors. Instead, I recommend looking for apps for activities she's interested in.

    Make sure you include accessories so that she's comfortable using the iPad and doesn't have to hold it for long periods of time.

    If you end up getting an iPad, let us know what you find she likes.
  5. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    The iPad is a daunting experience for many seniors. Even ones with computer experience. Even ones with Mac OS experience.

    We talk about how it just does stuff, and how intuitive it is, but it really isn't for seniors. Kids get it, but they get just about anything. Seniors don't. It takes them time.

    My advice would be to think about what she likes (reading books, internet forums, emails, etc.), set it up for her ahead of time with the apps, and lead her through a little at a time. For example, on Monday, show her how to do email (set it all up ahead of time) and the Internet. On Tuesday, show her how the Kindle works. On Wednesday, show her how Skype works. You can get to stuff like the app store, buying Kindle books, etc. sometime in the future. Don't overwhelm her. And, definitely don't ship it out to her in a box and expect her to get it up and running.

    Remember, there is a whole lot of knowledge you need to impart. How to two-finger scroll, how to change keyboards, etc. It seems easy to us, but it isn't with them.

    Good luck! I think it is a great idea. If my grandmother were still around, I would have definitely got her one. She used to love reading.
  6. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    Jeez...a far better response than mine. But I will mention a couple of the internet radio apps such as Tunein Radio and RadioBox. The range of radio stations from classical music to popular music from your grandmother's youth to old time radio programs is voluminous. Not quite a "senior," myself, but I really enjoy some of the big band and '40's music available. Likewise, Pandora and Slacker, of course. They're not just for younger listeners.
  7. Jodene =o) macrumors newbie

    Jodene =o)

    Aug 1, 2010
    Flipboard (and/or Zite)... you can then load all her gardening forums and fave websites into it, then she only has 1 app to open, set out like a magazine.. fabulous apps!

    Email, etc... standard setup... easy for her to use

    Photos.... great to flip through....

    Books, easy to load and read for her...

    And a special bonus......Put your phone number in there.. she can FaceTime you with any questions she has at any time of the day (YAY!), haha...

    Seriously tho.... I think the iPad is a wonderful, wonderful tool for the generation above us who don't understand/use computers... it's so fun and amazing for them! It's almost... magical!
  8. Aspasia macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2011
    Halfway between the Equator and North Pole
    You're kidding, of course.
  9. Jodene =o) macrumors newbie

    Jodene =o)

    Aug 1, 2010
    Have you tried iheartradio? It's a beautiful app....
  10. IrishVixen macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    I would MUCH rather teach a senior to use an iPad than a full on computer, that's for certain. And I've done both, since I'm primary tech support for the extended family. Either way, I'm on the hook for documentation and help desk-style requests; the difference is, it's a heck of a lot easier to remotely triage the iPad when something goes sideways, and it goes sideways a lot less frequently!

    I do think this "apps for seniors" idea is awfully condescending though. As others have said, you need to look at her interests, not her age.

    For my mother in law, we got her set up with photos, mail, and Safari first, then TuneIn Radio (which she loves, since she can get her old favorite stations from all the places she's lived), Solitaire & Bejeweled type games, and showed her how to work the Kindle app so she can share books from her daughters-in-law (we all read a lot of the same trash, I'm afraid, LOL). Her teenaged granddaughter then got half of the family involved in some truly scary zoo game and now my MIL spends a good deal of time crossbreeding the oddest virtual critters and laying out her little empire of pixels.

    My father in law also had no problem learning up how to use it, though he still prefers a laptop. For him, it's Solitaire and a few news-gathering/RSS apps.

    Don't underestimate their power to pick things up. A cheat sheet of the basics, a few short demonstrations, and the reassurance that you're happy to answer questions are typically all they need to get started.
  11. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    Good point. In fact, I haven't downloaded it for the iPad though I've used it on my Android smartphone.

    Warning. What follows is way off-topic.

    Two+ years ago my wife and I adopted our five year old daughter from Russia. Needless to say it was a big adjustment for everyone, especially since she spoke not a word of English and her parents' efforts to learn Russian were, ahem, less than stellar.

    Two weeks after she arrived, I downloaded an internet radio app for my cellphone that enabled me to access children's music from a station in Moscow. Connected my phone to external speakers and began to play the music. My daughter's eyes lit up. She excitedly told us with almost her first words of English that she "knew that song!"

    Still can't think about that moment without a few tears.

    To bring the comment back to the subject of this thread, I think we sometimes take for granted the extraordinary resources available for all kinds (and ages) of people on the net. My (now 7 y/o) daughter is an avid user of the family iPad. Once she mastered the skills required to use it (a process that took about a half hour), she was off and running. I strongly suspect that the OP's grandmother may be much the same.
  12. FloatingBones macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    Beautiful story, @jsh. It reminded me a bit of the more dramatic story of Hellen Keller's Aha! moment. The connection your daughter made was a huge moment for her, and we hear the huge impact it also had on you and your wife.

    To go off on my own tangent: we never know how others will see the world. John Varley wrote a fantastic short story The Persistence of Vision about a visitor to a community that are all blind and deaf. It's a remarkable story with a wonderful SF element; the coolest part is how the society works and works well. Perhaps the greatest strength of human beings is our adaptability; it may also be our greatest weakness. This book doesn't appear to be available as an e-book; the link above is to a PDF version I found online (the title story starts on p. 188). There is a large John Varley anthology, the John Varley Reader, which includes this short story. It's in print and is available in Kindle and other e-book editions.

    @jsh and others mentioned music apps; note that there are also some excellent music-oriented podcasts. I'm a subscriber to Marc Gunn's wonderful Irish and Celtic Music Podcast. Also, check out the wonderful resources available through iTunesU in iTunes. Schools have published some remarkable content through Open Courseware; iTunesU is one of the best ways to download the video content for playing. Other supplemental materials from course syllabuses, lecture notes, homework assignments, quizzes and even final exams are available from the various content providers (like ocw.mit.edu).

    To the OP: read through the chapter on the accessibility adapters that are built-in to the iPad. Many are unaware of what these adapters can do. Your grandmother may not need them now, but it's darn useful to know they're available.
  13. IrishVixen macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    Thanks for this, FloatingBones! Just downloaded the most recent ep to try out!

    Have to second the iTunesU rec as well. There's some amazing courses available on there.

    In the accessibility vein--one thing to consider as well is hand strength and flexilbility. While not a senior, I have a disability that can lead to fatigue, pain, and mobility problems with my hands and wrists, so from day one, I've been very conscious of how I handle my iPad. I use stands and cushions to prop it while in use for any significant length of time. I also chose not to add a full time case to it due to the additional weight; I did, however, add a matte finish skin front and back to make it somewhat less slippery. (And I insured it through SquareTrade, which covers accidental damage. AppleCare does not.) My mother in law, who has a similar condition along with arthritic complications, fell in love with my WedgePad on a recent visit, and promptly ordered one of her own. She & my father in law also use a stylus for tapping and swiping because that makes things easier for them. A full external Bluetooth keyboard may also be a useful addition.
  14. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    The reference to iTunes U reminded me that "Ted" is a great app for lectures of all kinds.
  15. HailApple macrumors newbie

    Oct 4, 2011
    My 64 yo mom took about two days to get familiar with the iPad2 I bought her. I think nobody knows your mom better than you do, so I'm just giving you what I look for in Apps selection for her and what I picked for her based on her interest.
    Thinks to look for in apps:
    1. Large clickable buttons, obvious ones, text or photo doesnt matter, but must be obvious. Thats bcoz she tend to think "can I click that? or is it stopped working because I just clicked it and nothing happened. Besides, unlike our fingers that's much more agile and accustomed to mouse, they need large touching surface area to be sure of themselves clicking on something.
    2. Large text and possibly in-app zooming. Most apps generate contents from their corresponding website and packed with stuff. In a more social logical manner to distinques from the sites, but they need in-apps zooming or text size adjust like Kindles to help my mom see clearly.
    3. Games wise, something colorful and simple to play. Thats what my family physician suggested, to stimulate her brain.

    What do I got her:
    1. Flipbook, excellent design for the elderly. Not sure if your gram's sewing forum can be subscribed into it. Thats for you to find out
    2. Bloomberg for her to keep track of her portfolio. Thats the only thing she can brag about
    3. USAToday NYTimes or any of your local news outlet apps
    4. Smurf, she's hooked
    5. World of Goo, this makes her nagging all the time, so stimulated, right?
    6. Hulu+ for TV shows
    7. streamingtvforipad dot com website for her Supernatural and Fringe fantacy with her gardening group, especially over Jenson Ackles' ass shoot, wow they giggles!! The Hulu doesnt offer those two

    Last but not least, a Birkin's Grip360. It seems the iPad2 is too slim that she always complain about her fingers and palm hurts after grabbing it for too long. This grip actually gives her a more natural way of holding in whatever position she is in. One more thing, she doesnt drop it anymore. i bought her this after she shattered her first one.

    Just my two cents
  16. ninerfan macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2011
    A subject near and dear to my heart!

    I will be 74 on the 14th (now to be known as the 4Steve day) so I guess I qualify as a senior. I have been a nerd since the 80's, have had an iPod and iPhone since launch, so when I got my ipad2 last spring, it was up and running in 5 minutes.

    My husband, on the other hand, can barely figure out his way around it, and I work with him every daynto help him learn. He has made great progress at age 77 but it does take patience.

    I have 66 apps currently running but I have picked out some that could get your grandmother started.

    In no particular order:

    Overdrive Media (if she has a library card). Fantastic way to read for free.
    Her bank (if it has an app)
    USA Today
    Flipboard (for all the reasons others have given)
    The Weather Channel HD (she can even watch approaching storms on radar)
    Smurfs Village (for sure! There are dozens of others if she finds she likes that kind of game)
    Words With Friends HD (Play it with her, she will love the connection with you and you will improve your word skills :)
    Planetary (fantastic way to enjoy all your music)
    Wallpapers HD and Cool Wallpapers HD (both free. She will spend hours looking at backgrounds to use. You will have to teach her about using Camera Roll though)

    I hope these help. I think what you are doing for her is just wonderful!!!

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