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Senior Living Blog

How to Teach Your Senior to Use a Tablet

Posted by Jan Wieder on Nov 16, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Technology has brought limitless options to improve our lives and provide new opportunities for engagement.  Because of their easy-to-use, intuitive design, tablets are often the most recommended tool for seniors with a wide variety of needs and skills.

At Village Green Retirement in Federal Way, WA, we are always interested in opportunities to enrich our residents’ lives, digital or otherwise.  Incorporating technology is just one strategy to address the ever-changing and complex needs of our individual residents.


Village Green Blog Title (6)

Selecting the Right Device

Electronic devices are big investments!  Selecting one that fits your needs and budget is worth the extra research.  Especially for an older adult, there are specific needs that might be met with this device, such as voice control or photo-sharing or special use considerations, like the need for a simple interface, which is especially important. 

1. Ipad

Pros of an iPad:

  • It’s Everywhere: The Ipad is the most common tablet for personal use. It boasts the widest array of applications and therefore has more free content options.  
  • Versatility: Personal devices in the home such as lights or electronics that could be controlled via apps will most assuredly come ready to connect to an iPad.  
  • Accessibility: An iPad can be customized to increase the font size or respond to voice commands under the accessibility tab.  

Cons of an iPad:

  • Passwords and Popups: IPads can be complicated, require passwords, and present with pop-up notifications that can be confusing.  Though there are applications meant to reduce and restrict these potential roadblocks, they take some setting up!
  • It’s Got Everything: For less digital-savvy adults, the entire breadth of the internet can be confusing and disorienting.  With every option known to man available, finding what they’re actually looking for can be difficult.

2. Kindle Fire

Pros of a Kindle Fire:

  • Specific Use: Though not as prominent as the iPad, the Kindle Fire has easy connections to online shopping for grandkids via amazon, all regular web and internet applications, and of course gives Seniors easy access to digital reading tools.
  • Accessibility: A Kindle Fire has all standard accessibility features that would help seniors navigate if they have poor eyesight or are hard of hearing. 

Cons of a Kindle Fire:

  • Less Current: The overall interface of the Kindle Fire and its features have tended to be behind the more recent technology like Apple products and thus often harder to use. And as a result, if future/new accessibility features or options arise in the market the Kindle Fire may be one of the last implementers.
  • It Also Has Everything: Similar to the iPad, with so many options from browsing the web to applications to books all on this tablet, it could end up being too overwhelming for an unsure senior to use. 

3. GrandPad

Pros of a GrandPad:

  • Tailor-Made: The GrandPad is a tablet device designed specifically to be used by an older adult.  It comes preloaded with apps for music, games, video calling, photo sharing, and more.  
  • Keep It Simple: It is designed with a simple, easy interface and can be used with a stylus.  There are no pop-up ads or passwords.  
  • Tech Support: GrandPad boasts “White Glove” support, which means that your family doesn’t need to worry about troubleshooting from afar.

Cons GrandPad:

  • Is Its Own App: This requires that other family members who want to voice or video chat or send pictures install the GrandPad app on their own device.  Because it runs on its own interface, you cannot customize with popular apps, though you can still link to social media accounts such as Facebook.  
  • Cost: There is an ongoing service fee for operating a GrandPad.

Teaching Grandparents to Use Tablets

Acquiring a new skill can be harder for adults as they age. Learning to use a tablet can be like entering a whole new world or learning a whole new language. Your senior will need to practice!  Individual seniors have varying levels of experience with the digital world, but may find tablets to be scary or intimidating without a little help. Find a few of our favorite tips and tricks to teach seniors how to use a tablet:

  • Phone Call Drill! Making time to practice making and receiving calls from their tablet to yours and using favorite applications will help your senior to use them automatically.  

  • Make a Video of Them Doing the Job Well-  A quick video over your senior’s shoulder while they open an app, make a video call, or send an email will remind your senior that they can do it because they can see themselves doing it!  If you’re especially tech-savvy, you could also make a video of your screen while you talk to your loved one through the use of an application, especially if it requires multiple steps.  

  • I Do-We Do-You Do- Teaching any new task to anyone is often best accomplished with this framework.  

    • I Do: Slowly walk through the steps of the process you are teaching.  Make sure that your words are concise and clear and you can be easily seen and heard.  Repeat this step a few times if this seems helpful.

    • We Do: Start the task off and have your loved one pick it up where they can.  This way, you can see what they can do on their own, and what they might need help with.  Do this at least three times, (likely many more), before your loved one can get through the task without your help

    • You Do: Supervise your loved one using their tablet independently with the tasks you are working on.  Be close by for tech support in the beginning!

  • Short, Spaced Practice: New skills are learned best with practice in short bursts over time.  Work on using the tablet for five to ten minutes, go do something else, then come back and revisit the skill later.

  • Review: Don’t forget to review, especially if your senior hasn’t used their tablet in a while.

Senior Living Activities in Federal Way, WA

At Village Green, we are always looking for ways to connect our seniors to their loved ones and each other.  We promote a wide array of activities that foster engagement for our residents in the domains of mental, physical, emotional, and other aspects of health and wellness because we know what a difference it can make. Contact us to learn about our different senior living residences, or to see our availability, and to set up a tour.

Clinical Care Services offered at Village Green Retirement Community


Tags: Senior Living 101, Retirement Tips