iPad for Seniors

With new gadgets and gizmos coming out every day, it can be hard to keep up and to know which ones are worth sharing with your elderly loved one.  Laptops are heavy and expensive, the iPhone has numerous useful applications but it’s too small for many seniors to use and desktops are virtually a thing of the past.  But there’s one new gadget that has the power to check your blood pressure and teach you Tai Chi all with the slide of a finger:  the iPad.

The size of the iPad versus the iPhone is an obvious advantage for seniors, but what else does this device offer for your loved one?  Of course, there are the standard brain teaser, scrabble and Tetris games, but there are also thousands of other applications which can help your aging loved one to live at home and enjoy life.

Health Information Applications

The new iPad offers many functional applications regarding your loved one’s health.  In fact, Healthful Apps, a series of medical-related applications, can be downloaded on iTunes.  This application offers Alzheimer’s Apps, Dialysis Apps, Health Tracker Apps and Caregiver Apps, to mention a few.  iPharmacy uses GPS to locate the nearest pharmacy and also provides information on medications and side effects.  The Bones, Joints, and Muscles application offers valuable information about the aches, pains and problems your loved one is facing in easy-to-understand terms.  In addition, WebMD has created an application for the iPad, offering all the same features available on the website, including drug information, medical listings and a symptom checker.

Self-Check Health Applications

Various self-check and tracking applications allow seniors to calm their fears when they notice worrying changes.  Perhaps the most intriguing of these applications is the HeartWise Blood Pressure Tracker.  Using illustrations and visualizations, this application tracks your blood pressure, resting heart rate and body weight, identifying any changes and alarming numbers.  With available vision and hearing test applications, your loved one can also keep track of sensory changes between doctors’ visits, alleviating any lingering concerns.  The free Stress Check application not only offers research-based tests to assess your loved one’s stress level, but it also offers videos about Yoga, meditation and other stress relieving activities.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Applications

The Alzheimer’s and Dementia applications are life-changing for those with the disease and their caregivers.  The I Know You application allows the user to upload labeled photos of loved ones to assist with recognition during visits with family and friends.  Another application, Alzheimer’s Cards, offers images that are intended to stimulate memory and help seniors to recognize their surroundings and communicate, even when words elude them.

Functional Applications

In addition to health applications and tracker features, the iPad also features functional applications that offer seniors convenience, particularly when out of the house. For example, many seniors are on restricted diets due to cholesterol, risk of heart disease and other conditions.  This makes it difficult to go out to dinner and enjoy social time with friends and family.  The Restaurant Nutrition application provides nutritional information about nearby restaurants, using GPS, and also allows the user to create a profile to track what he or she eats over time.  This takes away some of the stress of eating out.

Many seniors are also at risk for jet lag when traveling because they already have trouble sleeping under normal conditions.  Jet Lag Fighter is designed to help, using the travel and time zone information.  It tells you when to sleep and exercise in order to lessen the effects of jet lag, making it easier for aging adults to travel to see family and friends across the country and the globe. There are even applications to help seniors learn Tai Chi and Origami.

Doctors often tell their aging patients to walk or maybe even jog, depending on the senior’s current fitness level, in order to maintain heart health and fight off obesity.  The Running Trainer Lite application helps your aging loved one to exercise safely, offering interactive GPS maps, information regarding lighting for night walks and planned exercise schedules designed for his or her goals and fitness level.

Accessibility

While these applications are fascinating, they are useless if your loved one can’t use the iPad.  Thankfully, the new iPad is designed for accessibility.  In fact, a 99-year-old woman named Virginia in Lake Oswego, Oregon just got her first iPad and is now using it to read and write poetry again, which she hasn’t been able to do in years because of poor eye-sight due to Glaucoma.  If your loved one has poor eyesight like Virginia, the iPad offers VoiceOver, which names the icons out loud when you touch them on the screen.  The screen also offers a zoom feature to help with visibility and it offers the capability to switch from black-on-white text to white-on-black, which may make it easier to read.

If your loved one has trouble hearing, the iPad offers Mono Audio.  When using headphones, this feature plays all audio in both ears so that nothing is missed due to surround sound audio.

Possibly one of the most innovative applications is Speak it! Text to Speech.  This application allows non-verbal seniors to type what they want to say and choose from four different voices to speak the text.  For the first time, this kind of tool is easily portable, making it fun and engaging for non-verbal seniors to leave their homes for a day of shopping or coffee with a friend.

Aging at Home

So, what does all this mean for aging at home?  It means that your aging loved one can have access to tools and information to function alone while you are out of the home.  It means that you can squelch your fears about your loved one with a simple self-check test.  It means that your loved one doesn’t have to feel disconnected from the rest of the world just because he or she is aging, and can have a little independence.  And that means your loved one can enjoy life, even though it’s changing.

Right at Home is a national in home care and assistance agency that provides trained, insured, and bonded caregivers for a variety of senior home care services. Whether it's for extra assistance after a stay in the hospital, an aging parent who needs extra help, or as a respite for a husband or wife who cares for an ailing spouse, we can help with your senior home care needs.

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