What’s the best laptop for seniors ?
That depends on what kind of senior we are dealing with. It doesn’t mean you are buying a laptop for someone who isn’t tech savy ( but there are of course a few who are). I know of a lady in her 70s that’s actually one full time online gamer leading a dozen players in a computer game.
What’s the best laptop for seniors then?
According to seniors like her is: the first thing is don’t assume your senior is completely computer illiterate. After all who do you think invented the computer or started the computer revolution and all the technology we see today?
Having said that, rather than focus on dumbed down devices that most websites suggest. You should focus on buying the most user friendly device with the least amount of troubleshooting as possible and also find one suitable with the physical limitations that age unfortunately has brought to a some of them.
Unlike you or me, seniors do not have the patience to spend the entire day fixing stuff or having to call someone (you!) to fix something. They just want to get things done fast and without any issues at all. They have more important stuff to do.
This is especially true for some seniors who haven’t been introduced to the latest systems we have today but have rather gotten accustomed to their computer devices. Think about switching to Mac (if you are a windows guy your entire life).
So for what kind of laptops should we look for then?
Depends on each senior. Seniors who:
– Have physical impairments and can’t use the cheapest laptop you’ve bought on the store.
– Are very accustomed to his simple set up and does not have the patience to switch and deal with bells and whistles our systems have today.
– And of course those few who are not computer savvy at all and need the most user friendly device out there so they won’t start up calling you at 3 am in the morning to fox minor issues.
Besides offering the best suggestions, I’ve also written a guide on everything you need to know to find the best laptop for your senior or better device actually. It’s quite long but I’ve tried to include every detail you need to take into account to find the most suitable one whether it’s for your senior or you are a senior citizen yourself.
Top 5 Best Laptops For Seniors
Although this is a short list , one of these laptops will suit your senior. Some of them might break the bank and some of them don’t depending on the type of quality you want them your pick to have. And despite what other sites might want you to believe not all of the options they show you are perfect (except maybe for the priciest ones). So you may need to do some adjustments for a senior citizen to use it without issues.
Also, when shopping for laptops for a senior consider the following:
– Level of computer literacy: is your senior used to one operating system or hasn’t been in touch with modern computers yet?
– Purpose for which it will be used: day to day tasks or some heavy software?
– Physical impairments: does your senior have hand movement or vision problems?
Taking all these factors into account we might need:
- 4GB RAM for decent multitasking while 8GB is recommneded for heavy software and even more multitasking.
- 256GB storage (for photos and videos or movies a senior may be editing organizing or just to store the entire series of I love Lucy…)
- Any modern processor will do fine for basic tasks and day to day computing except some Atom or Pentium based laptops. Watch out!
- Great display if possible, full HD resolution for clarity. Huge screen size for more space.
- Decent keyboard (responsive, not mushy, registers clicks flawlessly).
- Obviously a good sound system might be good for those with hearing issues.
- Weight and battery might not matter if your senior will use the laptop around the house, otherwise portable laptops should be less than 4lb.
- Ports: HDMI and x2 USB at a min. (for external monitors & keyboards). A senior may not be able to adjust to our screen no matter how big it is and some require bigger keys and better keyboards than laptops can offer.
|13.3” Full HD||Core m3||8GB RAM||256GB||Windows 10|
Intel Core m3-6Y30 , 256GB Solid State Drive , 8GB DDR3 RAM
Although the processor isn’t one of the latest nor the most powerful out there, intel core m3. Overall this is the best processor you can get for a convertible tablet, the reason is the fact that it’s much smaller to easily fit into it. It’s especially designed to run basic tasks flawlessly nonetheless.
The performance is further improved by the addition of 8GB RAM + SSD for storage and actually might be a little too much for a senior who just plans on using for simply multitasking between simple software and tasks.
You can expect to run Office, edit some photos, watch videos and browse the internet with no issues.eed a separate set of speakers.You can safely have a dozen tabs open with a video running in the background and play around with folders all at the same time. One of advantage of this CPU model is the fact that it’s fanless, you can have a nice quiet night while using it if there are no external soudns around. All m processors have this feature.
The storage capacity is huge 256GB should be plenty to store any family photos, documents and dozens of full HD Movies.
13.3-Inch Touchscreen FHD 1920×1080
The display isn’t bad at all in fact it’s great, the only issue might be the size. If you are a senior or have a senior dealing with vision problems ideally you’d want to opt for a far higher display. Other than at 13”, it’s got full HD resolution and IPS panel giving it great viewing angles and great color accuracy.
As a bonus, it does come with a anti-glare finish which is certainly useful to take care of your vision while using it especially if you are surrounded by highly illuminated areas (outside or next to a window).
Some models do come with a backlit bleed, in other words, a bright spot near one of the edges of the display. Though this isn’t detrimental it happens with a great number of LCD displays and something that most consumers won’t even notice it.
The keyboards quality is decent. It’s responsive with great travel however since the design is made out of mostly plastic, there’s some flex when you start typing with it. Nonetheless for its size it offers the most important keys with full size: ENTER, SHIFT , BACKSPACE. It’s arrows keys are well separated too. With the single drawback of the plastic material, typing on it should be comfortable and easy to get used to. This model does not offer a backlit keyboard.
Sound quality is great except when hitting the maximum volume which is pretty common among laptops (even mine). If you have a senior looking forward blasting through music without experiencing any hiccups then you may a set of external speakers or look into other options below.
Operating System: Windows 10
It comes with Windows 10 which has Cortana which you can just use to ask her whatever you want to do : check news, use a search engine, watch the wether, etc. The mic that comes with is pretty accurate which is always a great bonus to avoid the hassle of buying an external one for your senior to take advatange of this feature. Other than that, your model might require an update to be fully functional.
Portability: 2.9lb , 10 hours.
Ports: x2 USB 3.0 ports, SD Card reader, mini HDMI port.
Overall this is the best laptop for seniors with every important feature needed and rightly balanced (not the best , not the worst) to make using a laptop a comfortable experience without having to break the bank!
|14” Full HD||Celeron N3700||4GB RAM||128 GB||Windows 10|
I frequently recommend this laptop all around this website, the reason being is the best deal for those on a budget looking to maxed out performance, portability and design for basic tasks and general usage. By no means is the most powerful machine out there but it’ll surpass your expectations if you plan using on it for regular applications. Seniors can also take advantage of the extra nice features this one offers.
Intel Celeron N3700 1.6 GHz, Turbo to 2.4 GHz , 128GB Storage
For starters the processor is not slow actually quite fast, unlike other models sporting a celeron processor this one has four cores. Surely it doesn’t compete with high end processors of laptops far above 500 but it offers a snappy performance all the basic tasks most seniors enjoy: web browsing, skyping, typing letters, some photo editing, etc. Plus unlike other cheaper options , it comes with 4 GB of RAM which is just right amount needed for decent multitasking without being slowed down or having your PC freezing when having several tabs open.
Best of all for the price it has 128GB for internal storage unlike other options near its price which only offer 32GB or 64GB definitely not enough to hold the Operating System a few programs and many multimedia files a senior may want to store. It also has a quick boot time (in seconds) from having an SSD as well opening programs pretty fast.
14-Inch Full HD 1080P Display
This is a better option for seniors dealing with some vision problems while looking for portability as well. It’s one of the few laptops out there with a medium sized display and portable as well. It has a 14” display to make reading and using effortless on your eyes. Also, this is full HD rather than low screen resolutions you get at this price range. While glossy displays might give you a better picture overall, this matte display will protect your eyes from reflections too. Despite that, the image quality is extremely sharp and vivid.
One caveat is it doesn’t have an IPS display so watching the screen from high angles will not be productive at all plus the brightness levels aren’t the best on the market, it’s meant to be used indoors even on brightly illuminated areas but not out in the sun or your backyard as you might not be able to see what’s on the screen.
Luckily, if your senior doesn’t like the display’s settings right out of the box, you can optimize its brightness, contrast and colors by using opening up the Intel HD Graphics Control Panel and that’s you may need.
Some models have the display coming out with 150% magnification which might be great if there are vision issues with your senior if not you can set it back to 100% by right clicking on your desktop and going to display settings.
Despite being a budget laptop (most of them cut on the design therefore the keyboard ), this one has one of the best keyboards out there. They aren’t backlit but are nicely set apart (including the arrow keys rather than half sized up down keys some come with). It provides a comfortable typing experience without feeling a flex cheap laptops have in the middle of it.
Some users report getting a keyboard which has the spacebar “needing a little more force”, if you fall into this category this is easily fixed with a few tricks as shown here.
The speakers aren’t the best on the market but definitely not the worse either. In fact, they’re simply amazing at this price. You can listen music, watch videos, Skype with clear and crisp sound without the need of headphones,etc .
If you find the sound not loud enough for your senior, you can also tweak it up a little to set it higher by opening the Audio Manager as described here or you could just find the equalizer button and set everything to the max. No complaints here!
OS: Windows 10
This model is free of bloatware saving you tons of times getting rid of it.nlike other models there aren’t any tricks or tips you may need to make it work flawlessly all you may have to do is update the drivers.
Windows 10 as you probably know is what you should be aiming for your senior, it’s very responsive and easy to get used to than Windows 8 which I do not recommend unless your senior already is very acquainted with it.
Portability: 9 hours, 3.3lb.
Ports: Wi-Fi 802. 11 AC. Bluetooth 4.0. 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB3.1 Type C, 1 x HDMI.
This is the best laptop for seniors who need a large display while staying portable at the same time.
You won’t find a laptop with 14” full HD a great keyboard, lightweight, long battery life, decent storage and great performance for day to day tasks. If you want to avoid low sound, display or keyboard quality for your senior’s limitations this is the best place to start and actually finish.
|13.3” 2560*1600||Core i5||8GB RAM||256GB||MAC OS Sierra|
There’s not much to review here. Why? As you will see every feature is fully functional and of high quality for everyone and of course this is much more important for seniors. This is a premium laptop after all , it surpasses nearly every laptop shown here in terms of quality and performance. Unfortunately, it is expensive!
2.9 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB
You can configure the performance to whatever specs you can afford however but the model presented here is sufficient for day to day activities and actually far more than that. You could as a matter fact do some serious photo or video editing with these specs if your senior happens to be an avid editor of family photos or videos.
Even the lower end MacBook Pro will be enough to blaze through basic computing tasks, load websites instataneously, having several dozens of tabs open and be able to deal with high graphic content you may come across online thanks to both its processor (one of the latest generations – 6th ) and the graphics card (Intel Iris).
13.3 inch – 15.4 inch , Retina Display (2560-by-1600 ) , IPS Panel
This is one of the features the macbook is known for, it has the best display out of this list: crisp, vibrant and with high color accuracy. The resolution is 260x1600p with an IPS panel for great viewing angles. You can recline and watch shows/movies without having to worry about image quality with high viewing angles.
It’s got great brightness levels to be used outdoors and very high contrast ratios to watch movies in high quality, too.
Nobody has ever complained of the MacBook Pro’s Keyboard despite having low traveling distance. It’s quite responsive with great tactile feedback just like all of its previous version. The addition of a touchbar with the latest version does come in handy if you just want to access a program without going through the nuissance of using the keyboard and trackpad/mouse to reach/open a Menu. Need MSWord? Skype? Just press one button.
Although MacBooks have had great sound systems with their laptops, this model is further improved for you listen everything loud and clear without having to worry about going all out and losing sound quality. Not much to say here, the best set of speakers from this list indeed.
OS: MAC OSX Sierra
Here’s the deal breaker: the Operating System.
It’s not that it’s actually bad but if your senior likes his Windows based desktop or old laptop, then it might be an issue.
Plus if the community he’s in (friends, colleagues, relatives) share his computer quiet a lot and he interacts with them constantly, it’s also going to be an issue for him to more “connected with them”. You certainly would feel differently if all of your friends were using Windows and you’d be the only Mac User.
If that’s not a problem. It has many advantages over Windows: no need for upgrades, everythings installed right out of the box, has tons of accesibility options, no viruses , less trouble shooting , it looks good and it’s easy to learn it as well.
|12.5” Full HD||Core m3||4GB RAM||64GB eMMC||Chrome OS|
This is another premium laptop with nearly every feature being of high quality with the whole exception of being much cheaper than the MacBook but this is only useful if your senior has no problems with Chrome OS and does not plan to install any software in his laptop.
Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
Although the specs might be low end for a windows laptop, for a chromebook these are one of the best you can get. Even web browsing with several tabs open, word editing and streaming videos in the background at the same time will do jsut fine. Websites will quickly load up and scroll up without any lag too (as long as you have a decent connection that is).
The advantage of chromebooks and their processors is the fact that they have long battery lives too, this one has nearly 10 hours. The storage is not huge but it’s a decent size for cheaper chromebooks which come with 16-32 GB which are only useful to have no more than a few files along with the operating system. One advantage of their storage devices (SSDs) is the fact that they’re crazy fast to start up and wake up from sleep.
Chromebooks store everythinig in the cloud (online) so there’s no need to use an external storage device but if you do need to, just swap in a SD Card into it and you’ll get 128GB.
Sound quality is also great. It has enough volume to listen quite clearly even from far distances. No complaints here.
1080p, IPS, Glossy, 12.5 inch, TouchScreen
The screen is of high quality too. Although this is small and certainily not very useful for seniors with vision problems. It’s also got a 1080p resolution which might only be useful for watching movies and shows in high detail but for a 12.5 inch size , the resolution will make everything look a bit too small. The resolution is already scaled down so it’s best to leave it as it is and try it before switching it to 1080p.
Brightness levels on the display are average but they’re high enough to be visible indoors with no issues regardless of which angle you are looking at it from. Besides, the screen is glossy (in other words highly reflective) so it might not be suitable to be used out in the sun or in highly lit areas if vision problems are a concern.
The TouchScreen however is a huge bonus, a senior could just go across the screen with one touch and open up an app or the web browser and avoid all the steps needed.
One thing chromebook are known for are their bad cheap plastic keyboard. But this one’s is of high quality, has great travel distance (1.6mm), feels solid with great click feeling to it. Plus it’s also backlit.
Operating System: Chrome OS
Another reason why this is one of the best chromebook for seniors is in the fact that it will be highly entertaining when android apps become a mainstream that along wit the tablet mode will make sure there are tons of productivity apps for word editing, photo editing and simple games to play around with. The tablet mode when used will turn the laptop into a complete android tablet and as you probably know tablet are already quite popular among those with physical limitation or those not acquianted with computers in general.
As you are probably aware of, chromebooks are nothing like Windows machines. Chrome OS, the OS, is limited to web browsing, word editing, watching movies and anything that can be done online. Since most seniors actually buy a computer for day to day activities this should be no problems. Plus, there’s the Chrome Web Store for entertaining, productive and useful apps that you can come across.
While all chromebooks can do all of the above mentioned. The main reason why this is the best laptop (or chromebook) for seniors is because it’s a convertible laptop. With Android app emulation this year, the convertible factor with the touchscreen and tablet mode enabled will make sure to keep your senior entertained with productive, useful and fun applications.
If that’s not good enough, you’re not just limited to web browsing since there are tons of web based apps for just about anything which include: mail , docs, storage , calendars, ms office and even light photo editing. Plus there’s not much to learn about ChromeBooks either, as long as you know how to use a web browser.
Note: Unlike other OS shown here, all chromebooks have the same OS and they for the most part don’t allow to reconfigure settings too much compared to Windows/Apple Laptops (no power management settings, keyboard shortcuts & trackpad configurations are limited). This is not an issue for basic users however but something to keep in mind.
All in all this is a good laptop for seniors who do not have several physical limitations. It’s cheap, fast, ready for new apps coming this year and can act as a tablet/laptop with extreme portability and battery lifetime.
|17” HD+||Core i5||6GB RAM||1TB HDD||Windows 10|
This is for seniors looking for huge displays so as to not compromise their vision and with enough performance for day to day activities without breaking their budget.
Intel Core i5 , 6GB RAM, 1TB HDD Storage
The CPU being of the 5th generation isn’t that different in terms of performance with the 6th and 7th ones, plus the addition of 6GB RAM (which is more than the recommended 4GB for multitasking) should be enough for day to day activities without a hitch and multitasking without a hiccup. If you actually open up the case or have it someone open it up you can safely upgrade to 8GB if you feel your senior happens to use more demanding software than basic multitasking activities.
Nevertheless even without the upgrade, this laptop is sufficient for anything but high end games and complex programs.
Like most laptops out there, this one will also have problems going all out at max volume. In the unlikely case your senior loves to listen to music at full blasting volume, then a set of external speakers can solve the issue. However for anything else , watching videos and shows while not using maximum volume there are no issues.
Decent keyboard. Has a full sized keyboard (num pad) because of its size. Arrows keys are too close together but all keys are responsive.
17 inch, HD+ (1600 x 900)
This is the main reason why this one made it to the list. While there are thousands of 17 inch displays capable of more than this one they can be overly expensive and if you go to the other extreme you’ll find laptops with the same price but you can end up with horrible displays.This one is just decent enough at an affordable price with the right set of components for day to day computing: Full HD to make everything look crystal clear and not having to squit your eyes to see small letters online plus a huge screen to allow for more space with programs and multitasking.
Operating System: Windows 10
Ports: SD Card Reader, x2 USB 3.0, x1 USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ-45, Headphone/Microphone jack, SuperMulti DVD burner
Portability: 6.2 pounds , 4 hours
How To Buy The Best Laptop For Seniors
There are many factors to take into consideration when shopping laptops for seniors. Not all seniors are created equal, they weren’t born seniors you know they were once young just like you so they’re preferences will always differ.
If you are a senior I think you can agree all seniors want is a comfortable, easy to use and troubleshoot free computer just like everyone else. Of course “comfortable and easy to use” depends on your senior friend.
Most seniors are well versed in technology and very few aren’t while most of them already have to deal with physical limitations. These are the factors we have to consider when buying any device for a senior.
The first place to start is to ask them. You can save a lot of time by asking them what they want from a computer and what they find hard or difficult to manipulate in the computer they use or the ones they’ve used.
Otherwise you’ll fall into the trap of thinking age is related to less technology literacy, when in fact most seniors use computer technology to keep their sanity in check just like you and me especially to keep loneliness and isolation away. If that’s so then ergonomics and physical limitations is all you have to consider.
I know of an old lady (in her 70s) who plays one of the latest games and lead us and tell us how to play a bunch of us every night using voice chat. Just ask, don’t assume. You never know what seniors are up to some of them might even be well versed in Linux.
Keeping the same old , same old
If you want to save yourself some time, then it’s best for you to get the same up your senior is using. Most seniors, just like us, would rather continue keep using what they already found comfortable and something that works for them.
It’s best to retain familiarity as much as you can. If your senior uses Windows, then get a Windows machine, etc. Loves large screen display, then avoid iPad. It all depends. Some are used to full size keyboards rather than the small laptop keyboards so you may need a much bigger laptop that can replicate desktop size level keyboards. While others may not have trouble using smaller keyboards from laptops.
Do you have a BACK UP of their System?
If you do, I suggest you stick with the same operating system and try your best to set up everything as closely as possible to their main computer if they already had one.
If there’s no back up, you can always download or check their entire their set up. If not, have an expert install the exact same copy on their new device including files, settings, software and everything else. If the old system is broken, you can always recover what was stored in the hard drive too.
Besides the fact that a few of them love to program in FORTRAN, the majority of seniors just like your typical adult or teenager perform the same activities, mostly to keep in touch with their loved ones:
- Heavy Email Usage & Web Browsing
- Banking management
- Writing letters to their social groups or take noes for book clubs.
- Skype and other video chat programs to keep in touch with you and their grandchildren (if you aren’t one).
- Share, store and Print photos.
CPU & RAM
Performance and computer speed isn’t really an issue with these kind of activities unless your senior is a programmer, heavy photo editor or even a gamer (mine is).
To avoid getting frustrated with occasional hiccups and lag these activities may bring, look for a laptop with “4GB RAM or 8GB RAM”. Also avoid any CPU or processor labeled with the names “ATOM & Pentium”.
If you are an avid photographer or if your seniors loves to store family photos and keeping them neatly organized and safe, then invest on high storage capacities. Look for “256GB” as the minimum and if possible “512GB” if your budget allows.
Other than that storage might be an issue if your senior fellow has tons of photos and videos , in other words, an avid editor or recorder or simply likes to keep all the family photos on his computer in which case 256GB should be sufficient. Having 1 TB or 1000 GB would be even better but not all laptops offer these and you may never be able to use it fully.
Keep in mind 128GB for storage can store 16, 000 raw photos!
By the way computers are not the only department where their physical limitations restrict them from some technology. Others are secure packing, tiny prints on packing, black on black buttons on television devices and DVD players, small size buttons on mobile devices, etc. So it’s not just laptops.
Consider this: your senior is likely to be a heavy email user but may suffer from hand movement problems and vision problems. So a decent keyboard, a decent mouse and good screen size will help a bit.
None of us would want to carry a heavyweight machine everywhere so if your senior plans on making his or her laptop portable to take anywhere, then opt for a laptop around 3lb.
Generally most of them will just use it around house in which case any decent weight should do, of course the less weight the better.
Unfortunately someone with hand movement issues and joint problems will have more difficulty hitting on screen keyboards than real keyboards. Often multiple keys will be pressed. Here’s a few other tips to consider:
- TouchScreen Keyboards such as iPads or other tablets devices are a nightmare for those with joint problems. Think how hard it is for us to type on it. Aim for full size keyboards and avoid very small size netbooks with cramped keyboards if there’s hand movement problems.
- For those with vision problems and if your senior has a desktop or uses external keyboards, you can buy specialized keyboards from other companies that include vivid colors and large key labels like this one here.
- As far as laptops go, very few have large buttons and letters and they’re usually from specialized companies making customized laptops for seniors.
- Alternatively, you can always buy large stickers as show here and place them on the keyboard your senior is using.
Switching from a mouse to a laptop touchpad can be brutal for any type of user and much more for seniors who deal with physical problems already. It will be one the major obstacles for your elderly person to use recent technology.
- If your senior’s hands shake a lot, a touchPad will be impossible to master especially when trying to stop the cursos on the screen.
- Get a ball mouse like this one, these are easily manipulated by most of us and are not too sensitive for seniors with hand tremors.
External Mouse and Keyboard on a Laptop
It might seem to defeat the point of having one but consider this if your senior already has a laptop and is dealing with hand issues. External devices can relieve a lot of physical problems as opposed to the ones on a laptop since you have a wide variety to choose from and are not as cramped as their laptop.
Stylus and Digital Pens
Just don’t buy one if your senior has hand problems or try to avoid one altogether unless your senior is sure to use them. They require a lot more hand eye coordination and are difficult to manipulate for those with joint problems.
Those voices robots you listen to in operating systems (cortana, siris, et) can speak too fast for seniors and they expect you to respond as fast. Don’t expect them to be useful for all seniors who want to launch tasks with voice.
Eyesight & Hearing
- A desktop or a large monitor may be more useful than a small laptop. Though most notebooks include a port with an external monitor, this defeats the whole purpose of buying a laptop. Ideally you want to aim for large displays on laptops or buy a desktop instead.
- Use the magnification feature from your Operating system regardless of what screen size you are using, it’s far more important since screen size will only allow you to fit in more stuff as opposed to make everything bigger.
- A laptop’s speakers are not as powerful as a desktop’s so using them to distinguish what’s being said may be an issue. So try to pick a laptop with good audio quality. Most laptops out there have poor sound quality due their size being not good enough to fit it a sound system properly, large laptops will for the most part have better audio systems.
- A headphone can solve any sound quality issue but is your senior up to it? You could also buy external speakers but then you’re making the device far too complicated for anyone to carry around and handle.
As mentioned before, screen size will not necessarily make things bigger but actually fit more stuff within the same screen. Grandpa still will have to deal with small fonts and windows and everything else unless you increase the size of everything yourself. How?
- Go to the control panel –> adjust DPI –> increase it until you find something comfortable.
- If not, press Windows Key + U and click the magnifier, then choose to increase the size by 25% everytiem you press Windows Key + “+”.
- If your senior is dealing with more serious or specific conditions, then consider a specialized software for magnification.
Higher display systems have the advantage of having more stuff in the same screen without feeling too cramped this is beneficial for all seniors alike.
It isn’t as important however higher resolutions displays will make everything easier on the eyes by making everything crystal clear. Full HD is a nice bonus but HD should be sufficient and more than enough. Higher resolutions are only for professionals who can actually distinguish pixel size details and have thick bottle bottom glasses.
If your senior has vision problems display size and magnification are far more useful than resolution.
Avoid Glossy screen if your senior is in bright setting areas or likes to use the computer outside with the sun clearly shining on the laptop’s screen! The reflections will cause great strain to his already aged eyes.
A Matte display will minimize this effect and be much more gentle on his eyesight altogether. Try to get one regardless of where your senior uses the computer.
Computers & Ease of Use
Computers were far more difficult to learn and use in the past. It’s not seniors have a difficult time learning because of age. In fact, the latest research shows that the brain never stops developing.
They can easily pick up any technology or learn just about anything as long you as handle their physical limitations well enough avoid poorly design technology when they already have to deal with many physical problems.
Most seniors don’t have the patience to spend too much time dealing with minor stuff such as clicking this or that or having to go through tons of steps to check their email or any other basic tasks.
In general (all of us actually) prefer systems that are straightforward, have a clean layout with just the right amount of programs or features we need.
For seniors these can be: web browsing, email, Skype, Photo viewers and an interface to easily move around files or photos along with a simple to use document writer..
Don’t shift Operating Systems
Stick with whatever you are dealing with, nobody likes to spend countless of hours trying to re-learn an entire new environment especially if it’s entirely different than the one we had even for the simple stuff I just mentioned.
However if this is the first time they’re introduced to one or are having trouble with their current operating system, here’s what you need to know about what each OS has to offer for the elderly or seniors.
- All windows systems (the latest ones) come with Microsoft Ease of Access, you can use the magnifier feature and the narrator screen reader if you think your going to need it. These two features keep improving with each version so it’s a good idea to land the latest OS they currently have.
- The main advantage of windows is the availability of options when buying hardware and the access to tons of software you’ll have.
- Difficult to maintain requires to be updated consistently.
- The main disadvantage out of all other software is the fact that windows is targeted by spammers, crackers viruses, etc. So it takes more work to maintain than other OS however if your senior’s happy with it I’m sure you can put up with fixing it from time to time.
Software for Windows
As mentioned the advantage of using windows is the availability of all kinds of software. Comapnies target Windows when making specialized software for seniors. For example:
HomeTouch – A software extremely helpful to keep elders connected to caregivers and family members. It’s paid but worth a look at. It’s won a few awards for its utility and service. Useful if you have a senior member in your family that’s constantly on the computer but also needs a carer from time to time to come in and help (available in Europe).
If your senior is fine with web based email such as Gmail, then theres nothing to learn. Otherwise look for more friendly alternatives: MS OutLook, AOL (includes instant messanging), kids email and pawpawmail designed for grandpas.
Most stable OS & User Friendly Windows Version
If your senior doesn’t have the need to use accessibility options or rely too much on it but rather would love to have an OS that gives the least amount of trouble shooting (I am sure you do as well) and just works straightforward, then you may want to give Windows XP a try (yes even in 2017).
Go find an original new copy of windows and install it on his laptop, you’ll be amazed by how wonderful and easy to use the XP is.
- Starts up in seconds
- Everything you do is saved and synced with the cloud (online storage)
- No updates or tools to maintain it (fragment hard drives, etc).
- No viruses
- Tons of apps on the chrome app store, more than just games.
- Better recovery system : you can restore every file you had.
- There are updates but you won’t notice them and no need to restart the system when they show up.
- Cheaper and easily replaceable. They don’t cost much indeed.
- Lack of complete software like Windows or Macs
- Limited to web browsing and document editors as far as software goes.
- Chromebooks often come with small screen sizes but nothing magnification can’t solve as it is also available on web browsers and chrome.
Chromebooks are simple and straightforward to use. There’s not much of a learning curve other than learning how to remove and install apps from the store. Chrome OS is simple and very hard (if not impossible) to mess up.
Mac OS X
- Comes already installed on every MAC no need to buy a copy
- Constantly upgraded for free and forever, no need for extra purchases.
- More aimed towards accessibility: as you soon as you turn it on, you have the option to use “Voice Over” a native screen reader along a tutorial on how to use it.
- Make your own shortcuts for specific tasks with their trackpads (useful for the visualy impaired) , so you won’t have to press multiple keys to open a windows, bring up the task manager, etc.
- No viruses
- Apple is more visually appealing (yeah I know) but it may be something to consider to women who’d like to have a more clean and neat look around the house.
Here’s a more complete guide on how to set up a Mac for a Senior.
- Less availability of software
- Most seniors use Windows so yours will have trouble adapting and sharing stuff with their community
- Linux distros are useful to bring up an older machine back to life.
- Simple operating system (like Chrome) straightforward and less demanding on a computer making it faster.
- Tons of distros to choose from. Some are particularly built for specific audiences such as seniors. Here’s a complete list.
- Less viruses and errors (from software) if you choose the right distro (version).
- Takes a while to find the right configuration and set up as most distros may be imcompatible with the device you have.
- If your senior has a community that revolves around windows users, then it may not be such a good idea to uniquely have him use Linux all the way or even a Mac.
Windows, Mac, Chrome, Linux?
Take all the considerations above, find something suitable and the most user friendly OS there is. Install a good antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware if required, firefox or chrome and most important learn to use remote desktop so you can fix the machine remotely anywhere any time and you’ll have happy senior.
Design & Quality
Seniors may have lost some physical abilities but that also includes the patience to deal with stuff that doesn’t work properly. So aim for well designed and high quality laptops. Don’t set out to buy the cheapest one of the store (unless of course it’s highly known to be trouble free). Otherwise you may end up with low quality keyboards, sound systems and an entirely useless device for your senior.
Make sure the brand you choose has great support even if you buy senior friendly laptops from unknown brands out there. Take the amazon kindle for example, it has a built in button that will bring a live expert to help you deal with any issues you may have and it’s not even a device targeted for seniors.
While we all love to have that kind of tech support just make sure yours is actually good and ok to take on phone calls regularly to deal with troubleshooting.
It may come in handy when you’re not available to help your senior or if your senior can’t fix it himself ( like every computer user out there). We all need tech support from time to time.
However is rather difficult to figure out which one has the best or who to believe.
But pretty much everyone agrees Apple having the best tech support out there (rightly so with the money you are paying for!). You can sign in forums ask online users and Apple will give you a reply pretty soon which most of the time includes easy to follow instructions. Phone service is also great.
Anyways, here’s a study that might come in handy. From bad to worst.
I assume you already made the decision of buyign a laptop for the portability. If not a desktop would be a much better choice for both ergonomics and more comfortable (and cheaper) overall. The reason, the display is better, it needs a keyboard which you can customized and an external mouse too.
Laptop vs. Desktop vs. Tablets & iPads
The number one reason of having a laptop over any other device is the ability to use full blown software and be able to take it anywhere something you can’t do with a desktop, tablet, phone or whatever technology brings these days. It should be the number one thing to consider when buying a computer device for your senior.
Ergonomics: Laptop vs. Desktop
In reality, laptops are the worst type of device for ergonomics especially the small sized ones. The screen, keyboard and mouse (touchpad) are too cramped and in not very good position for posture. Especially the touch-pad can present a problem for seniors with joint problems & hand tremors.
In some cases, you might need an external keyboard and a separate mouse to make it more user friendly for them which will turn out to be a desktop itself. That’s why portability should be the number one reason why you are even shopping for a laptop.
Desktops are cheaper, can be repaired faster and they last longer. This one in particular is especially designed with seniors in mind and a pretty well known brand.
Ipads & Tablets
- They have revolutionized the industry by making them extremely accessible to everyone.
- It’s a great way to introduce anyone to the tech world , this might be useful if your senior is extremely old and hasn’t use a computer in a long time as it requires less manual dexterity & technical skills than other devices.
- But you can’t really install any software in it and most seniors might find it useless if they wish to do anything serious with it. Think word processing, editing photos or using spreadsheets.
- Sometimes you have to put all of your credit card info for access to app store, that’s like giving you credit card to anyone who asks for it.
- If your senior friend has tons of fun with it and is limited to web browsing, reading emails, and watching videos. It’s a great choice.
Latop vs Tablets: Software
The main thing to consider when shopping for tablets for seniors is the software they will use:
Skype : Android tablets are no good for skype. The iPad however it’s a great option.
Web surfing: all tablets can do that no problem but flashed based websites, iPad might present problems.
Emails: tablets are not practical for long emails, maybe short messages but a Bluetooth keyboard will solve that issue.
Reading: There’s no better device than a tablet for reading. If you think about it, it actually becomes a book you can just turn the pages with a swipe, take it anywhere and position it anyplace perhaps to follow any instructions (leaned against a wall/object). It’s just like a book all over again which we are all used to anyways.
Where is the tablet not so good for seniors?
- Editing images, good looking documents, transferring photos and files from cameras and other devices.
- Any software for tabelts is downgraded in terms of performance and features from the full version used in laptops and desktops.
Telikin: primarily for desktop computers. Has been around for several years.
Claris Companion: tablets designed for the elderly, has more features than a regular tablet for seniors including phones, passive monitoring device, picture frame,etc.
Whatever your choice is, make sure you get a device that is both comfortable and is easily accessible to the internet. The advantage of the technology today is being connected to the world after all.
Research has shown that those who stay connected, especially seniors, with their relatives and loved one live much longer and healthier lives. And if you do your proper research and pick the right device, your senior can happily enjoy his time being connected as well.
Taking all these specs into account ideally we would want:
- 8GB RAM (4GB min)
- 256GB storage (for photos and videos or movies or the latest marathon of…)
- Any modern processor
- Huge display is optional/ Full HD resolution for clarity but HD is fine as well. Matte finish a huge bonus.
- Great keyboard (large key labels are optional)
- Great sound quality system if no headphones around the house!
- Weight and battery do not matter if your senior will use the laptop around the house, otherwise portable’s at 3.0lb-4lb
- Ports: HDMI and USB at a min for cameras and external displays/devices in other words avoid ultra ultra books like the new MacBook or 10 inch netbooks.
If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know. We want to make our seniors as comfortable as possible. After all it’s thanks to them we even have computers to play around with today and all the technology we see around us.