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What Technology Works Best for Senior Citizens?

BDK asked:

My 80-year-old, technically challenged mother with poor eyesight would like to communicate by email and do some surfing, possibly even use Facebook and view pictures. It should be light, rugged, and intuitive. I’m thinking about a tablet using Siri or Google Voice.

I spoke with someone recently who actually teaches a tech-learning class for elderly people. His best advice is that most of the older people should be using an ultrabook or netbook, simply because they do much better with a physical keyboard.

Take speech to text, for instance: “She speaks & it’s wrong. She tries to fix it & can’t. She gets frustrated, feels incompetent, & stops using it. Not being a downer here, but I see this a LOT. Consider it a heads-up. Your grandmother may be fine with an iPad. If there’s any way to test run it (borrow for a few hours from a friend), do that. Then try a small ultrabook. See how it goes?”

This is a perfect point. Many elderly people do great with an iPad or other touch-screen device. But there are many who are technologically challenged – and let’s not forget: there are plenty of younger people who are, as well. Teaching someone like this to use a device that has a physical keyboard is MUCH easier than overwhelming them with a touch device.

What do all of YOU think?