What’s the best laptop for seniors ?
It doesn’t have to be an “easy-to-use” laptop though.
I know a lady in her 70s whose a guildmaster and leads a dozen of gamers (including me) in a raid of World of Warcraft.
One of my best friends & neighbors (I’ve lived in a retirement home) is a retired senior citizen and he can pretty much fix anything you’d throw at him.
How do you find the best laptop for seniors then?
First, don’t assume ALL seniors are computer illiterates. In fact, I would say in 2022 most know how to handle a computer.
Who the hell do you think invented the computer and started the computer revolution and all the technology we enjoy today anyways?
In fact, even if your assumption is right, there’s no such thing as an “easy to use laptop”. You might be thinking of tablets!
What you can do instead is to….
A) Get them the most comfortable laptop to use because we both know the physical limitations they may have to deal with.
This could mean:
- A high resolution large display. If not, you could tweak the operating system a bit to make fonts larger and make the voice controlled personal assistant work flawlessly.
- A decently larged sized and very VERY responsive keyboard.
B) Get them an overall FAST and SNAPPY system or make it (through some tweaks/updates) run faster than a cheetah on ‘roids.
“Wait, I don’t even have a fast laptop myself. Why go that far?”
Well, most seniors don’t really have the time nor the patience to wait for loading or freezing screens.
And unlike you and me, they don’t want to spend all day dicking around laptops trying to fix/tweak stuff on their system.
So they will most likely call YOU to fix it even if it’s 3 o clock in the morning.
C) If they used a computer before, try to get something similar.
This is very very important for seniors who haven’t been introduced to the latest operating systems or gaming rigs. Buy something that’s VERY different from what they used before and they might not even use it.
Think about switching to a Mac when you’ve been a windows guy your entire life. It can get really annoying to learn everything from scratch.
Our article is going to go over 5 best laptop for seniors with all of these points in mind…
You should be able to find at least two laptops that
We’ve also included a guide on everything you need to know to find the best laptop for seniors, elderly parents. The guide has way too much info, it’s a little disorganized but it’s got everything you need to know and you may even come to the conclusion that another device may be more suitable.
Top 5 Best Laptops For Seniors
Before you pick a laptop, ask yourself:
– Level of computer literacy: is your senior used to a specific operating system? Is he/she still using Windows XP? or maybe hasn’t touched a modern computers yet?
– Purpose: day to day tasks or run some heavy software (photo,video editing)?
– Physical impairments: does your senior have hand movement problems or poor vision?
If you want to be bullet proof for ALL of that GET:
- RAM: 8GB bullet proof for super highly intensive everyday tasks (~50 chrome tabs + photo editing) .
- Storage: 512GB storage (enough to store a lifetime of photos/video and even the entire series of I love Lucy…)
- CPU: Just avoid “mobile chips. Any CPU released within the past 3 years (Ryzen 3/Intel Core i3) will be way too fast for everyday tasks.
- Display: A 15-17”. Size is going to help make fonts bigger without comprimising screen space. FHD resolution is nice when watching movies and clips only. If visually impaired resolution isn’t a requirement because it will be most likely lowered down (to make fonts bigger).
Finding laptops with all the hardware goodness above is pretty easy and actually not expensive at all! Even Costco might have some of these.
The tricky part is finding a GREAT KEYBOARD and a SUPERB SOUND SYSTEM:
- What is a great keyboard?
Responsive, not mushy, registers clicks so flawlessly so that even those with hand impairments can type with no issues. The closer to a typewriter the better.
– Mostly found in expensive ultrabooks (700-1000$) or thick/heavy laptops(500-700$).
- Great sound system:
– This is a must. Nobody likes using headphones and even me in my 30s suffer from some mild form of hearing loss. Don’t cheap out on this.
- Weight and battery: Since seniors are probably playing it safe during this health crisis, they will be mostly stay in the house. If you know they will take their laptop to a friend/sons house then 4lb is portable anything more feels like you are carrying a baby.
- Ports: Don’t worry about ports. All modern laptops have at least an HDMI and x2 USB ports (in case your senior wants to attach desktop external keyboard and display which are x10 better).
Laptops with all the features we mentioned don’t have to be necessarily expensive. It doesn’t mean you can grab the cheapest laptop at Costco either.
You just have to look around very carefully OR get a budget premium ultra book.
We’ll also post a few premium laptops for those with deep pockets.
Best Laptop For Seniors – Best Display
4-Core Intel i5-1035G1
8GB RAM DDR4
Intel UHD Graphics
128GB PCIe SSD + 1TB HDD
17.3” Full HD 4 way NanoEdge bezel display
This ASUSVivoBook model is still the best all round 17” laptop in 2022 and it has pretty much everything you’d want in a laptop for a senior and at a pretty reasonable price (700$) or anyone with any vision impairments really.
- 128GB+ 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD: The storage system is split into two, that means you have two storage devices. The 128GB of PCIe NVMe SSD is the fastest SSD so Windows and any other important programs will be stored here for super fast boot up/launching. The extra 1TB HDD is slower but that doesn’t matter when you just want to store several hundreds of videos and thousands of photos.
- 8GB RAM: Yeah there’s 16, 32GB but 8GB is already a lot! Enough even for me, a 33 year old gamer who does some pretty insane multitasking with the most graphic intensive games out there.
– Even if you never close your web browsing tabs and keep like 50 of them open, 8GB will handle it and there will be no freezings. It’s not just seniors who forget to close tabs, with the insane hardware specs laptops have today we all do these days!
- AMD Ryzen 5 5500U: It’s not one of those chips engineers use but for the average user, this is way way too fast and has way way too many cores. It’d be nice to find a model with a Ryzen 3 chip, it would make it “cheaper” but there’s only an AMD Ryzen 7 variation whos even faster and more expensive.
- Battery: . While last year’s model battery life was very poor, this year’s model has a pretty decdent battery life for a 17” laptop with 1080p resolution (more resolutions means more pixels means more energy less battery). 5” may not seem like much but if you try other 17” laptops you’ll find out its pretty decent.
- WiFi 6: This is the latest Wireless Cards and it significantly improves internet reception. If there are several walls between your dad/mom’s room and you got your router on the second floor, it’s going to help speed things up. Not many laptops have Wifi 6 implemented yet. Just another reason to buy this ASUS laptop and call it a day.
There are several hundreds of 17” laptops but out of those only 5% have FHD resolutions and much less have “nano-edge displays” which basically make 17” screen “bigger” than they actually are because bezels are paper thin.
You probably won’t be using Windows at FHD (1920×1080) if you have someone visually impaired though because you’ll be reducing the resolution to make fonts and objects appear much bigger.
However the fact that it has a FHD resolution means it has way more pixels and this reduces eye strain. Other things that reduce eye strain are:
- Calibrate color’s temperature to filter out blue light as much as possible, this not only helps with eye strain but also with sleep. Here’s a short guide with the steps.
- Adjust brightness to match surroundings. You have to have a very bright display to be able to match all the brightness levels outside or indoors.
Lastly, but not least, one thing that this laptop is missing is a matte finish.
Matte displays make images look a bit less colorful (most people won’t notice the difference except photographers) but they have the advantage of being far easier on the eyes and they also intrisically filter some blue light.
The solution to this issue is simple. Get a cheap screen protector for 20 bucks.
One issue you will find with laptops and not just the ones in our list but every single laptop online is that the letters on the keyboard will have either small fonts (at least for those with eye problems) or the colors won’t necessarily make them stand out.
For example, it’s not a good idea to have gray colored letters on your keyboard when the keyboard itself is some form of gray.
This model doesn’t have that problem though, however, the letters may be still too small for some seniors. The solution is again pretty simple, just stick key letter stickers on them.
There are stickers that are not only super big but fluorescent too. So if you turn off the lights, they’re going to shine bright! They only sell for 10 bucks. If you’re buying this laptop for a visually impaired senior, you MUST buy these.
If you do all the above, you will then have the perfect best laptop for seniors. It should have everything everything they could ask from one.
Best Laptop For Seniors – Best Display
AMD Ryzen 5 5500U
AMD Radeon 7 Graphics
512GB M.2 SSD
17” full HD TN
This laptop has pretty much the same hardware:
- The same operating system: Windows 10 Home.
- Processor: same CPU, Ryzen 5 5th gen.
- Exact same RAM. Both are upgradeable (though that’s pretty much useless for everyday tasks).
But unlike the ASUS VivoBook it has:
- Wifi 6 wireless card: this means if you got a Wifi 6 router at home, wireless speeds will significantly increase.
- 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD: is not the same amount of space but you get an 256GB extra ultra fast space. If there’s a need for more space, you can add another 1TB HDD in it. Though that may be very unlike as 512GB is already a lot even for media content creators.
This laptop is much much cheaper than the ASUS VivoBook but that comes withi a few drawbacks:
- The FHD resolution is missing, it’s going to be very very difficult to get FHD 17” displays under 600$ unless you start looking at refurbished machines. If you take all the precautions to reduce strain we talked about before, this should be just as safe.
- TrackPad: it’s terrible andunusable. But that’s a good thing because you don’t any person over the age of 60 to use it. It’s not only difficult to use but it can also aggraviate already present joint problems. You should buy a mouse for each and every model in this list.
Best Inexpensive Laptop For Seniors
Intel Core i3-1115G4
Intel UHD Graphics
15” full HD IPS
This is the most budget friendly FAST laptop on Amazon, at only ~350$. You’re getting a:
- Awesome Full HD + 15” Display: Obviously a 17” display with FHD or even +2K resolution would actually be more helpful for those visually impaired but this is as good as it gets below 500$ and it’s ten times better than the HD+ or HD 11-13” displays you usually find in this price range. I wouldn’t even use those myself.
- Core i3 111G54: this isn’t a mobile “CPU”, it’s actually just as fast as Ryzen 3 CPU. Though a bit slower than Ryzen 5/Core i5 chips for everyday tasks the difference is virtually invisible. So it’s not going to blaze through the full version of Windows 10 Home.
- KeyBoard: Since this is a budget laptop and it doesn’t have the thickness or space of a 17” laptop, it’s not going to have that superb premium feel to it and that clicky with a great travel distance keys. However, it’s going to be fine if the user has a lot of control on their fingers. If you’ve got someone that doesn’t but likes likes to write long emails and enjoys writing and typing all day, you probably should invest on a more premium device OR attach an external keyboard.
Q: What about RAM? isn’t 4GB RAM too little? I thought you said 8GB!?
Windows 10 in S mode isn’t another version of Windows 10. It’s a special mode that substantially limits Windows 10 in a variety of ways to make it run faster, provide longer battery life, more secure and easier to manage.
Since it doesn’t have the full version of Windows 10 Home, you can’t install just ANY program you find online BUT you can install any program that’s available on the Windows App store: the usual MS Office/Movie Maker/MS Paint/MineCraft and any most of the well known software are avaiable in the Windows App store.
Unless you’re a full time gamer or programmer that likes to mess around with third-party software. You are not going to feel limited in anyway with Windows 10 S mode.
Anyways, the point is, due to this “Windows App Store” restriction, Windows 10 in S mode is much less resource intensive than the full versions of windows so it will run very fast with just 4GB.
Windows 10 S vs Windows 10 Home:
Windows 10 S, despite its limitations, is actually a faster, more secure and a much simpler OS. It’s still got the features of Windows 10: the home menu button, the bar below the desktop, it looks exactly like Windows 10 but you’re restricted to what you can install in it. You can read more about it here.
No viruses or hacking:
A huge plus of having Windows 10 is the fact that the chances of getting virus/being hacked/installing dangerous software are close to zero so the likelyhood of your personal data like bankaccounts and credit cards being stolen are almost zero.
Upgrading to Windows 10 Home:
You can opt out of this mode and revert to Windows 10 Home or Pro (see below) with one click though. Currently, there’s no need to pay 100$ for the upgrade, it’s free but once you install Windows 10 Home there’s no going back, you won’t have the option to revert back to Windows 10 S.
Best Chromebook for Elderly Parents
Laptop or Tablet
Intel HD 615
14” FHD 2 in 1 TouchScreen
ChromeBooks are your cheapest option but that doesn’t mean they have poor manufacturing quality nor does it mean they’re going to be slow. Surprisingly, quite the oppossite.
Performance & Quality
If you browse around the web for reviews, you’ll be surprised to find out no one complains about speed. They all seem fast and they are!
Well it’s the operating system. It’s also limiting, like Windows 10 S mode, and useful for everyday tasks, basic photo editing and some games.
Most also have insane durabilities. I have an 8 year old chromebook still turns on and works(I’ll admit a few keys have stopped working so it just needs a keyboard replacement). The reason it’s their “mobile chips” and “mother boards” , they’re basically that, made for mobile devices so they are less taxing and demand less temperature control.
ASUS ChromeBook Flip C433
There are thousands of ChromeBooks available online, literally. But I believe models like this ASUS C433 to be one of the best options for seniors for several reasons:
- Screen Size : It’s not the biggest display but it’s at least much bigger than most ChromeBooks (10-11”) so there will be no need to squint the eyes to read.
- 2 in 1 TouchScreen: You can flip it back and forth just like a tablet. One can turn it into a tablet to browse around the web while lying in the couch or while eating breakfast and turn it back into a laptop when typing is required.
What about touchscreen laptops that do not flip all the way back?
If you can’t flip it all the way back, then it’s just going to be a laptop that has a touchscreen display. That’s not going to let you draw the screen closer to the face when you want to use it. You would have to raise and extend your arm to use the display as a tablet which is really tiring and annoying.
See the difference yourself:
- Performance: You already know all ChromeBooks are fast enough because they’ve got Chrome OS so they don’t need much power. This one has a slightly faster processor than the what the average chromebooks holds so it’s going to be slightly faster and handle substantially more multitasking without freezing.
- Portability: The processor itself is designed for portability. It doesn’t need much bells and whistles as a full blown Core i3 or Core i5 would (which adds more weight to a laptop).
- Keyboard: This could be a big issue withi ChromeBooks. A lot of them can have lousy and unresponsive keyboards and the majority of them lack the backlit feature. Also there’s the issue of barely being able to distinguish letters on the keyboard due to mismatch of colors.NOT a problem with this model, it’s got it all. A back lit keyboard with very salient key labels and it’s a full sized keyboard too (because it’s a 14” laptop as opposed to an 11-13” laptop).
Ease of Acess: Chrome OS
You may be hesitant to consider ChromeBooks because they don’t have the almighty Windows 10 Home pro on them but rest assured they will be fine for someone who does nothing more than everyday computer tasks like photo viewing, youtube, doc typing, web browsing,etc.
Now in 2022, the google store and its android apps, have been fully implemented into all chromebooks. A ChromeBook can now be just as entertaining as an android tablet or an android phone because most of their apps also have a version designed for ChromeBooks which is another reason to choose a TouchScreen 2-1 ChromeBook: to make the most out of the apps available on the Google App store. You will find apps for just about anything just like you would a phone or on a windows laptop.
What about Learning Curve?
This isn’t like your typical Operating System, there’s not much learning curve. It’s just web browsing software that can run apps. Almost like a tablet and this is true for all chromebooks whether or not they are touchscreen 2 in 1 laptops or not.
What I’ve always liked best about Chrome OS is the control panel that’s always easily accessible on the bottom left corner so one can easily get acquianted with all the accessibility options available.
And fear not, the most important features (that would radically change the way the operating system works) are “LOCKED” so there’s little no chance of messing it up.
5. MacBook Pro
Best Rated Laptop For Seniors
Apple M1 Pro 10 Core CPU
16GB RAM DDR4
Apple 16-core GPU
16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, 3456 x 2234 pixels, 120Hz
The MacBooks are probably the best of the best laptops one could get for a senior.
They’ve got EVERYTHING I mentioned and MORE:
- Keyboards: backlit, huge letters, great contrast between colors, great tactile feedback, ultra responsive, smooth.
- Displays: insane resolutions(2x FHD), unlimited brightness levels.
- Performance: for everyday tasks they will run faster than any other laptop even the oldest models are fast
- Operating System: Easiest to use. Look at the home screen’s dock bar, everything is just one click away.
Unfortunately, it is expensive! Especially if you go for the latest model like the one featured here.
All of their models will all perform virtually the same for everyday tasks so it really comes down to how big you think the keyboard and display needs to be.
The 16” MacBook Pro has the best display obviously but if you know your dad and grandad do not have much eyesight issues, you could go as low as 13”. Though I would at least get them a 14” MacBook Pro.
Obviously, these are all super expensive but if you are sold on Macs you can always go for older models, you won’t find them new anymore but as refurbished. This is not an issue because virtually all of them still work like new and even the oldest of the oldest models will perform virtually as fast as the new ones with the advantage of being several times cheaper. They will still retain high display qualities and keyboards as longas you don’t go 10 years into the past when picking one.
Even the “weak” and “oldest” MacBook Air can handle high graphics apps and multimedia creative software for photo/video editing and that’s mainly because the OS has been tailored and therefore optimized to run with the hardware that’s been given.
The bigger macbooks , however, will have way more power especially the 15” and 16” models. Though it is very likely you will never find that much power useful unless you’re a professional video editor or a gamer.
The details depend on the model but as of 2022, all MacBooks released after 2018 have the retine resolutions which has basically twice as many pixels as the FHD resolution displays.
Virtually all of their models released after 2018 have at least 350nit of brightness whicih is far more than what your average windows laptop. Only the macbook pros before 2018 have that much brightness levels as well.
All of their keyboards are backlight. They are all responsive and key labels are very easy to distinguish since they’re a combination of black and white. Yes, keys have low travel distances but that doesn’t make them unresponsive or any less clicky. Due to their native design, they still feel like a typewriter.
The touchbar can help make everything just one touch away kind of like a smartphone. Does she/he want easy access to the email app? Set it up to be one touch away!
The TouchBar is only available on 2016-2020 MacBook Pros. The latest models released have discarded the touchBar altogether
All macbooks have crispy and clear sound systems. The bigger MacBooks will fit in a bigger speaker system so they will be louder. However, there’s no loss of sound quality with any of the MacBook Pros.
Operating System & Ease of Use:
It’s probably the best operating system for seniors but before you pull the trigger you must take into consideration the following:
- Has he/she used Windows before?
- Does his/her circle of friends all use computers too and do they use windows systems? How about people in the family?
The latter is more than like to be the case because not many people, unless they have money, use Apple products. Feeling left out and not be able to get trouble shooting help from his closest friends/family might be an issue.
If that’s not a problem and he/she doesn’t spend the entire day on a computer keep in touch with friends then go for it. The MacBook Pros, especially the large models, has way too pros over all the other brands:
- No need to wait for updates
- Everything will work right out of the box,
- Tons of accesibility options which are far better than what ChromeBooks/Windows 10 offers.
- No viruses and virtually zero troubleshooting.
- It looks good and the OS is super easy to use and learn.
The main issue is Price. It can cost up to 1500$ if you want a brand new 16” MacBook Pro. However, you don’t have to go for the latest 16” MacBook Pro.
If you need the big display then like I said, you can go for the renewed models.
How To GET the best computer or laptop for seniors
I think we can all 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 what physical limitations there may be.
These days, most seniors are well versed in technology. Very few aren’t. So it’s mostly about physical limitations, regardless we will go over both scenarios.
Before Buying A Laptop
You can save yourself a lot of time AND MONEY by asking them what they need from a computer and what they find hard or difficult to use in one.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that age is related to technology literacy, when in fact most seniors use computer technology to keep their sanity in check especially in these times of loneliness and isolation. You may be surprised to find out some of them actually like computer games and might even be well versed in Linux (though I’ll admit that’s going be very rare).
If that’s so then ergonomics and physical limitations is all you have to consider.
Keeping The Same Computer Set Up
Just like us, most seniors would rather continue keep using what they already know how to use and what works for them.
- If your senior uses Windows, then get a Windows machine, etc
- Loves large screen display, then don’t get a Tablet or a 13” laptop.
- Some are used to full size keyboards rather than the small laptop keyboards. This means you may need to go for a big 17” laptops. Others may not have trouble using smaller keyboards from 13” laptops, this would the process of buying one much easier but it’s very rare.
Replicate the same computer and/or get a back-up
If you’ve found out, they’ve used a laptop or a desktop before:
- Go dig into that basement and take that CPU back home, plug in a monitor and a keyboard and check what Operating system they used or what software they had installed.
- If the CPU no longer works, then take that hard drive out of it and take it to a computer store, ask them to extract all the files and then you can find out what Operating system is and what programs they had in it.
That should really work wonders to settle this whole issue.
If that’s not possible, then make a list of the activities they want to do.
I know for a fact a few of them love to program in FORTRAN or use the classic DOS console but the majority of seniors are just like today’s typical adult and teenager, they mostly use it to keep in touch with their loved ones through:
- Skype and alike software to keep in touch with you and their grandchildren .
- Heavy Email Usage & Web Browsing
Watch their favorite artists/shows through:
Some will be well versed in web-apps and software for:
- Banking management
- Writing letters to their social groups or take notes for book clubs.
- Store, Print photos for sharing.
Hardware Specs (depends on Operating System)
CPU and RAM
You’re not going to need to worry much about hardware specs.
As long as you get a CPU released recently (8th-11th generation Intel CPU or any AMD Ryzen CPU) and 8GB RAM, everything’s going to run very smoothly.
You just need to avoid all the other chips IF and only IF you want to run a version of Windows with it.
Chrome OS: will take any CHIP and will run just as fast with any of the oldest ones. 4GB RAM will do fine here too.
Mac OSX: any macbook released from 2011 to 2022 will run just as fast with the chip that comes with it too. 4GB works here too.
Windows 10S: This nerfed version of Windows will run with 4GB and any CPU from the past 5 years too.
Windows 10 Home: The real issue only comes down to Windows which is VERY resource intensive and needs to have a recent modern CPU and 8GB RAM or things will slow down and even freeze sometimes.
Windows only takes 20GB. Office and other computer programs for video, photo or any other type of work 10GB.
The average DSRL photo takes on average 10MB.
A 2h 1080p movie file taken out of a DVD file takes 8GB. While a 2h video file, with the right encoder, can take 300MB.
|1000 GB||121||3233||12 000|
As you can see, even if your dad is an avid photographer, 128GB is plenty of space to store thousands of photos.
Storage size is only an important factor when you want to store dozens of movies but who does that these days? Everyone now streams movies online.
A senior with physical impairments will be restricted in just about every form of technology: opening secure packing, reading those tiny prints on packing, pressing black on black buttons on television devices and DVD players, small size fonts on mobile devices, etc.
Computers and laptops are probably one of the only few devices where you might even be able to eliminate all these restrictions altogether. Things like getting a decent keyboard, a very easy to grasp mouse and a high resolution reasonably sized display will helps tons.
Hence it’s very important for you to pay close attention to this section.
If your dad has hand impairments especially problems moving and coordinating finger movements, then there’s going to be more issues when using on screen keyboards than real keyboards. As a result, multiple keys might be pressed and errors may pop up.
Though this problem is very difficult to solve. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when trying to do so:
- Avoid tablets and touchscreen devices. They are a nightmare for those with joint problems because it requires a lot of finger motions and multiple fingers have to be use to activate some features.
- Obviously, small sized keyboards, such as those found on 11” laptops and netbooks, must also be avoided. They’re cramped enough even for a healthy and young adult.
- You want specialized large external keyboards made for desktops. They have way more travel distance and are super responsive just like a typewriter but way easier to press down. They can be attached to laptops if desired. They also come with large key labels if there are any vision problems. They are nice to use anyways even if you don’t have vision impairments.
- As far as I’m aware, there are no companies making laptops with these types of keyboards on board. You can find however laptops with customized or classic Operating Systems (Windows XP, 98) and other specs (mostly displays) tailored for seniors at aplusseniorcomputer.
- If you buy a consumer laptop, then you can just
buy large stickers and put them on yourself.
Mouse, TrackPads and TouchPads
Just going to be blunt and tell you to forget about trackpads and touchpads. These are one of the major obstacles seniors have when they want to use a computer:
- They are brutal to use even for adults with just carpel tunnel syndrome:
- If their hands shake a lot, a touchPad will be impossible to use especially when trying to stop the cursor on the screen.
- I don’t even use trackpads myself. Most people who work with computers choose to use a mouse too.
- You can either try buying a regular mouse first and if that doesn’t work then get a ball mouse.
- Get that balltrack mouse if you’ve got someone with hand tremors. They are very easy to manipulate and they’re not as sensitive as the common mouse we all know. The low sensitivity is going to help tons with click accuracy.
- You can either try buying a regular mouse first and if that doesn’t work then get a ball mouse.
Stylus and Digital Pens
Just don’t buy of these. Although it may not apparent to you, they require an insane amount of hand-eye coordination and it’s even more difficult to use if there are joint problems.
They’re only useful for someone with good hand control movements and thats very unlikely for most seniors.
These can make a whole world of difference. You already known the most common ones used on smartphones and computer devices: Alexa from Amazon, Siri from Apple, Google’s Nest, Cortana from Microsoft, and Bixby from Samsung.
These are very easy to use to the average person however seniors may encounter some difficulties such as:
- They speak too fast.
- They expect you to respond just as fast
- Newer versions on newer devices are more complicated
- Microphone does not work properly so the voice assistant won’t understand you
- App may not be sensitive to voice changes
These are all easy to solve issues. Solutions range from cleaning up your microphone area or getting a new one to upping your internet speed and changing the settings of your voice assistant (to speak slower/recognize voice changes). If your loved one comes across any of these issues, check this website for more information about how to solve these issues.
Display & Sound
- A desktop’s monitor is way more useful than the small displays found on laptops. Most laptops now have a port to connect an external monitor. This defeats the whole purpose of buying a laptop though so eyesight is an issue get the 17” or 16” displays.
- On top of that, you can use the magnification feature which is available in every operating system. This is actually far more important than getting a huge display. The display size will only allow you to fit in more stuff on the screen it will not automatically increase fonts and objects, in other words, it won’t make everything bigger and easier to distinguish.
The magnifying tool is super useful for most seniors. However, there are those who might just need to adjust overall size of fonts and objects. To do that:
- Go to the control panel –> find the “adjust DPI” option –> increase it until he/she finds it comfortable and easy to read.
- You can also press Windows Key + U and click the magnifier, then choose to increase the size by 25% everytime you press Windows Key + “+”.
If any of these methods still don’t help, then check out third party magnification software.
Resolution & Display Type
1080P: It isn’t something you have to go after but it’s a nice bonus since higher resolutions will make looking at the display easier on the eyes and will also make images/movies more crystal clear.
HD+/HD: these resolutions are pretty counterproductive for the average adult. However, especially for those with eye problems, they will work just as good since you’re very likely to lower down the used resolution on your display anyways.
If your senior has vision problems display size and magnification are far more useful than resolution.
Matte: what will actually make a much bigger difference for eye discomfort, it’s finding a display with a “matte” finish. These are usually “TN” displays but not all the time. IPS displays can also have a matte finish. These type of displays minimize the amount of overall spectrum of light that causes eye discomfort in many people by acting like a filter.
Glossy: these displays on the other hand let everything right through. They are nice for people with a pair of health eyes because everything will look bright and colorful but are pretty bad for those with aged eyes.
You can’t expect a superb sound quality from those 2W speakers found on laptops. It’s not going to be anywhere close to TV sound quality or desktop’s speakers.
If your loved one doesn’t like to use headphones (who does really?) , then finding good speakers it’s going to be a real ordeal.
- The problem is that most laptops are small so they can’t fit in a good sound system. So you are most likely to find better speakers on bigger and thicker laptops.
- Even better speakers can be found on premium large (16-17” laptops) which costs anywhere from 800-1500$. The MacBooks without doubt , at least the 15-16” models, have the best sound systems hands down followed by premium laptops such as the Dell XPS and lastly 17” Gaming Laptops.
Ease of Use = Ease of Access
As you can see , you don’t need to get yourself a mickey mouse operating system. Modern operating systems are becoming more and more tailored to make very accesible to the average Joe.
Latest research shows that the brain never stops developing so it’s more like their aged related physical conditions inhibit them from using a computer as a normal person would.
You bet they will pick up any technology as long as you handle these physical limitations properly and staying away from poorly designed technology. Smartphones are detrimental to everyone’s eye health for example.
Q: What can I do to make the Operating System better then?
You see what I’ve noticed with my senior friends is that most do not have the time and patience to go through all the steps most of us go through to do something. For example, we check emails by:
- Using the Start Menu
- Finding the Web Browsing software
- Typing the web email address
These involves several hand motions, clicks and even some typing.
If you think about it, it’s actually quite annoying but we don’t notice it because we have grown into it.
What you can do then is to make this whole process more straighforward:
- Use the desktop background to add shortcuts to email web servers
- Use shortcuts for the most commonly used functions like Skype, Photo viewers, Doc writers,etc.
Like I said, it’s always best to keep the exact same operating system if they’ve used one in the past. Most people are not willing to re-learn everything from scratch.
However, if this is the FIRST TIME they’re going to be introduced to an operating system OR they want to TRY out a modern operating system instead, here’s what you need to know of the four most popular ones:
- All Windows Operating systems comes with Microsoft Ease of Access, this includes the magnifying feature and the narrator screen reader. These two features have been improving with each newer version of Windows so it may be wise to get the latest ones. (Windows 11 is the newest in 2022).
- Since this is the mainstream and most widely used Operating System , there’s thousands of hardware configurations to choose in laptops and desktops.
- This also means you’ll have a huge amount of third party software available for just about everything and this includes customized ease of access software.
- Requires constant updates.
- There will be times where it will automatically restart to self update
- Way more prone to viruses and hackers
Best quality: Software for Windows
The main takeaway from Windows devices is the availability of third party software.
HomeTouch – designed to keep seniors connected to caregivers and family members. It’s won a few awards. Super useful if you have a senior spending a large part of the day connected/close to a computer but also needs a caregiver from time to time to come in and help.
Pawpawmail – the best email service for seniors. The software is only available in Windows Systems.
MS OutLook – the popular software for email its avialable everywhere but more easily accesible in Windows machines.
Windows XP and past versions
Windows XP and past versions have the advantage of being way more straighforward and way more stable than the newest ones.
- That means there will almost no trouble shooting or mishaps and updates are non-existent.
- The downside is that it will be more vulnerable to viruses and hacking.
- Boots up in literally seconds
- Everything will be automatically saved and synced with the cloud (online storage)
- No need for tools for you to maintain it (no fragment hard drives functions).
- No viruses
- Tons of free apps on the chrome app store, more than just games.
- Better recovery system.
- Updates are there but you won’t notice them and they won’t require you to restart the system when they show up.
- Extremely cheap and easily replaceable.
- They come with small screens but nothing magnification functions can’t fix
- Can’t install third party software unless it’s on the app store
- This limits the amount of software available
Best Quality: Simplicity
- Unlike most Windows Operating Systems, Chromebooks are simple and very straightforward to use.
- There’s almost no learnig curve other than how to remove and install apps from the google app store.
- Chrome OS is very simple and very hard (if not impossible) to mess up.
Mac OS X
- No need to buy a copy. It comes installed on all macbooks.
- Constantly upgraded for free and forever, no need for extra purchases. Updates happen in the background so they never interefere with tasks.
- Way more aimed towards accessibility right out of the box.
- Ex: As soon as you turn it on, the option to use “Voice Over” a native screen reader and a tutorial on how to use it is readily avialable
- Ex: Cuztomize trackpad shortcuts for specific tasks. In other words, opening up emails may only be one click away (useful for the visualy impaired) . No need to press multiple keys to open a window, bring up the task manager or click on icon on the screen.
- No viruses EVER
- More visually appealing. Not something you want to hear but it may be good to know for seniors who love to have a clean and neat look around the house.
- Not as much third party software available as in Windows devices
- Most seniors do not use MacOSX so it will be more difficult to share/talk about computer related stuff.
- VERY EXPENSIVE
Best quality: Accessibility Features
Focus more on accessibility and ease of use and has an excellent customer support.
- Linux distros are the best choice if you want to bring old machines with outdated hardware back to life.
- Very simple Operating System. Straightforward to use and much less hardware demanding. This makes computer and laptops blazing fast despite having old hardware.
- Tons of distros(versions) to choose from. Some are particularly built for specific audiences such as seniors or those with physical disabilities. Here’s a complete list.
- Less pront to virus attacks and system errors(if you choose and update the right distro)
- Takes a while to set it up since distros are not all compatible with every computer device.
- If his/her community revolves around windows, then it might be more appropiate to follow the trend and not uniquely have him use a Linux/Mac system.
Best quality: Wide variety of Options
Distros are basically different versions of the main Operating System. There are distros tailored for just about anything.
Windows, Mac, Chrome or Linux?
The choice is up to you. If you take all considerations in mind, you should be able to make the right choice.
What’s more important is to:
- Install a good antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware. Firefox over Chrome if given the choice.
- Also learn how to use remote desktop so you can fix the machine or install stuff remotely from anywhere and anytime and you’ll have happy senior.
Some brands have great great customer support. If that’s important to you keep reading if not just skip it:
- Amazon kindle for example, has a built in button that’ll bring an expert.
- Apple Customer Support, is available 24/7 through all forms of communication.
Obviously other brands also have the same type of services available. But only a few are way more available than others. This is super useful if there’s not going to be anyone around to troubleshoot your grandad’s computer.
Pretty much everyone agrees Apple having the best tech support out there (rightly so with the money you are paying for!). But here’s a study of what companies have the worst customer support.
Laptop vs. Desktop
The truth is a desktop would be a much better choice for seniors because of ergonomics:
- Display is bigger and has way more resolution
- Keyboard is full, bigger, has bigger fonts and has a more bounce to it when typing
Design & Quality: But I assume you already made the decision of buying a laptop over tablets or desktops because of their ability to , unlike tablets, install software and , unlike desktops, to be ultra portable. If those are the reasons why you want a laptop then beware of a laptop’s design and manufacturing quality,
It may be enticing to buy any cheap laptops but they are very unlikely to be trouble free for a long period of time. Cheap budget laptops can have the worst keyboards, sound systems and are painfully slow.
Ergonomics: the reality is that laptops are the worst type of devices if you have ergonomics in mind, especially those small 11-13” laptops. The screen, keyboard and touchpad are all way too cramped into a small area of space and this isn’t a good thing for posture and keeping safe distances from the monitor to the eyes.
TouchPads: touch-pads are a senior’s worst enemy because a lot of them have hand tremors, they can also aggraviate joint problems.
External keyboards & mouses: obviously if you feel like you have to attach a separate keyboard you might as well get a full blown desktop. That’s why portability should be the number one reason why you are even considering a laptop for him/her.
Desktops are actually not a bad choice for seniors, like I said they would be a much better choice because they are cheaper, easily reparable and they last much longer.
Laptop or Tablets For Seniors
Ipads & Tablets
- Tablets have made everything extremely accessible to everyone.
- Usually the best choice if you want to introduce computer technology to someone. This is a great starting point if you’ve got someone really old and/or someone who hasn’t used a computer before since it requires less manual dexterity & technical skills than full blown desktop computers or tablets.
- It’s not going to be super useful if you’re giving it to someone who’s already quite avid with technology. Word processing software, photo editing software, spreadsheet software,etc, on tablet isn’t nearly as useful and complete as on desktops.
- However if limited to web browsing, reading emails and watching videos, it will be a better starting point.
Latop vs Tablets: Software
Before you decide to buy a tablet too consider the fact that the following software is going to be different:
Web surfing: all tablets can do that no problem but flashed based websites, iPads are known to have some issues.
Emails: tablets are not practical for typing long emails. Short messages are fine. A Bluetooth keyboard can offset this issue though.
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).
When is a tablet not a good choice for seniors?
- Editing photos, saving documents, taking photos and files out of a camera or USB devices.
- All software made for tablets is basically a nerfed version of their computer versions.
When is a tablet a good option for seniors?
Although most seniors and even your elderly parents might very acquianted with technology, there are a few who aren’t and may unfortunately not be very eager to use today’s computers or devices.
This is the rare case where a tablet might come in handy. Although Apple Ipads are quite good for seniors, you might want to check the AARP RealPad Android to see what the characteristics of an ipad/tablet from another brand should be.
You can also check Claris Companion, they have tablets especifically designed for the elderly and each release has more and better features for seniors than regular tablets.
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 with their loved ones, especially seniors, much longer and healthier lives.
Hopefully you’ve read quite a good portion of this long and tiring section so you will be more prepared to find the right device so that your grandad or dad can happily enjoy his time being connected as well.
A lot of the tips, links and suggestions on this post have been taken out of the comment sections. So please feel free to ask questions or comment on anything.
We want to make update this post as much as possible so that our senior citizens can feel as comfortable as possible when using the technology they themselves helped us develop.
- I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.