iCloud, iPad, and Seniors

How The Apple iPad and New iCloud Can Connect More Seniors

Research continues to show the positive, life-enhancing effects that the Internet can have on senior adults. Beyond just staying in touch with family and friends, going online provides seniors with an interactive outlet to the world – and studies show that it can also provide a myriad of health benefits. For example, increasing personal communications can decrease feelings of depression and isolation, as well as stimulate the brain and enhance cognitive abilities.
Today, seniors access the Internet via their computer for a variety of things, from researching information and keeping up with modern culture and society, to socializing, watching videos and sharing pictures. Being active online can ultimately enrich their lives by connecting them to their families and the world around them.

But what about those seniors who were left behind – the ones who never learned computer skills or how to use the Internet through work or social means? Until recently, starting from scratch and learning these skills would be difficult. But all of that is beginning to change, with the introduction of the iPad and other easy-to-use tablet devices available today.

The Next Generation In Broadband Technology.
The inception of high-speed wireless broadband access also brought with it a more user-friendly online experience. We’ve moved beyond slow dial-up connections, boring text-based interfaces, and being tied to bulky computers … to a world with instant accessibility, complete mobility, more engaging content, and enhanced human connection. And people everywhere continue to embrace this new freedom – including senior adults.

But while broadband use among seniors continues to grow, the adoption rate still lags behind other demographic groups. A number of factors contribute to this – but the number one issue is uncertainty in complicated technology systems and an inability to use computers.
If you haven’t heard about it yet, Apple’s iCloud will release this fall – and its ability to remove the need for computers or learn complicated technology will change everything. For specifics, you can visit apple.com. I won’t get into too many details of the iPad and the new iCloud for now, beyond talking about why this combination is a great choice for seniors, and how it will benefit them and their adult children – as in this story about me and my own parents.

Why I Haven’t “Connected” My Parents Online Before.
In my family, we do a pretty good job of keeping my parents informed of what is going on. My dad is 83 years old, mom’s 75. Never held office jobs, and therefore weren’t exposed to computers. To this day, they have never asked about getting a computer for personal use, and I have never offered for fear that the training and upkeep would take way too much time. Yet, when I was showing my dad photos on my iPhone a few weeks ago, he said, “I want one of these things.” Cute – he didn’t even have a name for it, but he wanted one. Well dad, maybe not an iPhone – it’s sort of small, hard to read and to see all the little App buttons – but an iPad with an iCloud connection … now that could work.

Why An iPad And Not A Computer?
I can’t even imagine my dad trying to learn how to use a computer. I would get a call a day – an hour, for that matter. I can hear the question now, “How do I get back to where I was?” He is intelligent, but he needs something simpler; completely “novice” proof! The iPad offers easy preprogramed Apps that will help keep my parents out of trouble. The large screen with magnifying features, light weight design, and long battery life are also a plus. Best of all, the home button at the bottom will always get them back to the beginning. And even though they don’t know how to type, they can hunt and peck a comment to the grandchildren on Facebook if they want.
An iPad doesn’t feel overwhelming like learning a computer might be – it’s just the right amount of connectivity, flexibility and accessibility. You get all the easy tools you want and need; nothing you don’t; right in the palm of your hands. Plus, there are a variety of Apps that are perfect for seniors to stay entertained, engaged and connected – from playing games to watching movies; reading books to socializing with family and friends.

How iCloud Makes It Even Easier To “Connect” Seniors.
Until now, the iPad was a devise that needed to be tethered to a computer for backing up and for software updates. Apple’s iCloud will allow an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch to back up directly to the cloud through any wireless Internet network, and it will sync that data with any computer on that account, anywhere in the world. A user can back-up their most recent thousand photos, all their iTunes music and an additional five gigabytes of information for no additional cost. And that’s just the beginning. There are lots of other things that iCloud can do – but let’s just start here for now.

For my parents, losing information – especially photos – would be very frustrating. With iCloud, I can set up my home computer to sync with the cloud, then store their photos and settings incase anything should happen to their iPad. I don’t even need to take the iPad home with me to connect it to my computer – it just syncs up itself, wirelessly. Pretty cool! So after just a little of my time spent setting up Apps for them and bookmarking websites, an iPad will deliver a great interface for my parents to connect to the world.
Will my dad and mom ever use the Internet to manage their lives, shop, bank, or correspond using email? Unlikely. And that’s OK. I see the benefits that connecting them to the family in a much bigger way will bring added joy to their day. And that’s more than enough reason for me to consider it.

The Bigger Picture For Senior Living Professionals.
We all know that the more the mind stays active, the sharper it will stay as it ages. That socializing can improve quality of life. And although I would never suggest that interfacing through technology outweighs human contact, I think we can all agree that staying involved in the lives of people we know – in any form or fashion – is better than just keeping up with the Kardashians.
There are mom’s and dad’s everywhere that are not computer literate but would love to connect with their kids and grandkids on Facebook, look at vacation photos on ShutterFly, and video chat with friends and family living out of town on FaceTime. What does this mean to senior living professionals?

If you are a marketer, be sure your website offers an experience that is delivered well on tablets and mobile devices. Remember, a computer screen can be as large as 27”, while a mobile device is typically under 10”. However, tablets are designed to handle graphics and video well, so add larger photos and video when possible to enhance the storytelling on your site. There are other specific design and programming issues that need to be taken into account as well, in order to deliver the best online experience. Consult your web marketing team for more details.

Also, have your associates become familiar with the iPad. You will be seeing more of them than you ever expected too pretty soon. Be able and willing to assist with basic functions and getting a novice user back on track. Next, consider the power of offering community notices online that are formatted for the iPad. And also, if you don’t already, provide high-speed wi-fi access to your residents and their guests in public areas. It will be requested more and more in the future – and eventually even become expected from a senior living facility.
It’s worth it to start taking steps toward these initiatives now – because in the end, we are all committed to upholding the real mission of senior living: providing the very best experience for residents, so they can live life to the fullest, every day.