Tech for Elderly Parents


When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

~ John 19: 26 – 27

Have you found ways to take care of your parents, using technology?

Keeping in Touch

While visiting an eighty-year-old donor, we found out about her Presto.com printing mail box and mail service.  We were impressed and when I looked up the cost, I thought it was relatively affordable (pun intended), whether or not the rest of the family decides to take up the cost with us.

If you are like us, your elderly parents may be donors, but miss out on your eNewsletters and the family emails they could be receiving from their children and grandchildren.  Or maybe you live far away from your parents or in-laws and your children are growing up without their grandparents.   This printer and subscription service makes it easy to send nice letters and photos too.  You could also send your parents schedules, to do lists, or PDF files from websites with medical articles.

The Presto.com site suggests that an aging parent may forget what you communicated over the phone, but by sending an email they would have a printed reminder of their doctor’s appointment with questions to ask the doctor, a list of prescriptions, and a map with directions to the office.  You could also send a copy to the neighbor who will be providing a ride.

Only approved senders would be able to send email to your parents.  The emails come only at scheduled times and would not tie up the phone line.  Our friend’s family set up a separate line for the printer as an extra safety precaution so her phone line would always be available.  Our donor had “business cards” with a code so she could invite other people she knows to send her email.

Your parents would not need to own a computer or know how to operate one.  The administrator (you, that is) would even know if other family members are writing and if the printer needed paper or ink.  (We thought the printer might be a bit too bulky for a tiny apartment.)

Do you know of any similar ways to use email to minister to parents without computers?

eBooks and eZines

Does your father love to read the paper or sports magazines, but the print is too small or his hands are too unsteady?  Maybe an Amazon Kindle would be a good gift for him.  (Also check out Barnes & Noble’s Nook.)  He would not need a computer to download eBooks and eZines, but would use Amazon’s free Whispernet 3G wireless service.  Your dad could adjust the size of the font on this electronic book reader or with the new text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read his newspapers, magazines, blogs, and books to him.

You could save money by getting free eBooks from your local library and downloading them using the USB port instead of buying books from Amazon.  Apparently, your parents could also read your web site or receive a PDF file of your prayer letter.  Click here to read more about downloadable content.

I don’t own a Kindle, so if you do, please let us know if you think this would be a good option for an elderly person?  What are the advantages and disadvantages?  Is the high cost of Kindle an issue?  Please correct me on any errors in my post, too!

Other companies also make tablet computers.  The new iPad offers eMail, eBooks, eZines, and more.  Unlike the other options in this post, your mom or dad could send email using the virtual keyboard on the iPad screen.  Do you own an iPad?  Would it be a good option for your parents?

Health and Security Issues

You’ve probably read about the pendants your loved one can wear to alert emergency services.  Here’s some links I found:

I just read on Wikipedia about more “techy” help for the elderly.  I cannot speak to this area from experience either, so I am relying on our readers to fill in the gaps.

What technology has helped you and your family with health and security issues?

Other Ideas?

We bought a digital frame for Mike’s parents a few years ago.  We looked for one that was not too complicated.  They absolutely love it and we update it every time we visit.  Or, they could mail us their SD card and I could add more photos to it and send it back.  We opted not to get a frame with monthly service where you can send photos directly to the frame.  Have you used this type of frame?  How is it working out for you?

Find more ideas, including using Skype and blogs, at Keeping Relationships Close from Missionary Moms.

Do you have other ideas to help take care of elderly parents, using technology?

Related Posts:

Photo: © Mike and Sus Schmitt – my mom with our son, Josh, when he was small.

2 thoughts on “Tech for Elderly Parents

  1. I love my Kindle. I still prefer real books, but when I travel, the Kindle is wonderful. Being able to make the type size bigger helps–I can read without my glasses. It has lots of features I am just learning. The fact that I can get a book or newspaper or magazine anytime is wonderful. No more going shopping or ordering online. My Kindle is a really nice size and easy to handle. I think it is great for older people!

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