Tag Archives: elderly

Computing with Elders

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Do you have a Grandparent or older friend/relative in your life who is interested in computing? Here are some tips sent in by Clay to help you (and them!) get started.

  • Use the Dvorak keyboard layout! It is less stressful on the hands and wrists.. Because the most commonly used letters are together there is less movement involved to get those letters, which equals less energy being used, which equals good for bad joints.
  • If you are getting the elderly started on their first computer or trying to help someone that is having trouble seeing the screen, get them a BIG monitor with a high resolution.. When you set it up for him or her, set the resolution lower than the optimal.. 1152×864 for instance for a monitor with a 4:3 aspect ratio and an optimal resolution of 1600×1200.. This will help in several ways… First, some websites are wider than 1024 pixels in width, if you have a smaller monitor with a resolution of 1024×768 they have to scroll over.. If you can set the resolution higher they don’t have to do that. Second, the monitor is big, so lower resolution added to the big size will make the text and images even bigger, making it even easier to see.
  • They don’t need a fast computer! You can get them an older, slower computer. First, most likely all they are going to use it for is the internet, for that almost all computers from 1999 will work. Second, they are patient, they won’t mind to wait for programs to start.
  • Get them started on Linux or even an old Mac. This way they don’t have to worry about viruses, spyware, and all the junk you all ways have to update. Doing the updates will probably not happen also. My grandparents WILL NOT update their protection I have showed them how, programmed it in for the app to update automatically but they stop it when it starts. I would guess many other people would too. Another advantage to Linux or Mac would be that, they are stable.. Even on the best windows machines you can get errors while browsing the web, save them from that torture.
  • Help them out with the computer when ever you can. When you are there to help them, then they know that you really care about them. Also besides that, they also enjoy the company.

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Ronni Bennett Live from Gnomedex


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – There are 35 million people in the US who are 65 and older. People don’t know or don’t pay attention to what elders need to use computers and the Internet. Ronni has set out to change that… and change it she has.

In 1995 Ronni was hired as the first editor of the CBS News Internet portal. She needed to talk to a writer one day and realized that she was the oldest person in the room, by decades. She was 55 at the time. At that point, she started researching what aging was all about – everything she found was about decline, debility, disease, and death.

A few years later she had a massive amount of material, and decided to start a blog about aging just to get the information she had collected organized. People started reading… a LOT of people.

During today’s session, Ronni asked for two volunteers. They had to put on gardening gloves and special glasses, and then get online. The point was to show the challenges facing older people who want to surf the Internet.

The issues that they had were difficulty typing, and vision was blurry. Dark colors on a black background was even more difficult than white text on black background.

Seniors are the fastest growing age segment online. Currently there are no more than 9,000 geriotricians in the US. Because there are so few of them, the challenge is figuring out how to take care of elders. If we can get enough elders online, we could monitor all their vitals over the Internet, which means much less trips to the doctor.

Many people 65 and older have never used a computer at work, and therefore end up teaching themselves how to use their computers. In Ronni’s own words:

“At first, Time Goes By was just a place to put my research and thoughts on aging. I had no further ambitions for it and no illusions that with such a loser topic, many people would want to read it. Four years after its inception, Time Goes By has become a complex mix of reporting on every aspect of aging: health and medical issues, ageism and age discrimination, media, technology, politics and public policy, cultural attitudes, marketing to elders, the important of language, love and sex, friendship, post-career careers, retirement, retirement living, family, the prospect of death and, certainly, humor.”

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I'm Old?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Ack. Thpt.

I didn’t know what to get Ponzi for Valentine’s Day. Really, truly. I always seem to pick the “wrong” jewelry and clothing styles when we’re out and about, so I didn’t even bother to go that route. Flowers? No. Chocolates? No. A Nintendo DS Lite – white, to match her iPod (which she did appreciate).

The hardware was sitting behind a locked case at Target, so I had to locate a “keymaster” employee. Since I wasn’t sure if Ponzi would want white or black, I got one of each. There were also a handful of games in front of me, so I asked about a few of ’em. Was that the original Super Mario Bros? “Yeah, but it’s like the old, old, old one from the old NES.”

DUDE?! I grew up with that game system! Hell, I was a frosh in high school when Zelda was my princess! OLD?! Does it look like I wear dentures? Do you see any grey hairs? I whacked the kid with my cane, pivoted in the Little Rascal, and wheeled away with those handheld game units tightly pressed against my Searsucker.

Old. I’m old!?