Tablets for Seniors and Boomers

There's a lot of hype in tech circles about the new tablets available today (for good reason).  There's a lot to choose from… There's the iPad from Apple, the Samsung Galaxy, the Google Nexus, Kindle Fire, Lenovo's ThinkPad, the Barnes & Noble Nook… and many more!  Now that the market is awash with tablets, the new game for tablets is “Right Sizing”.  The ever-so-popular iPad family recently introduced the iPad mini… A 7.9 inch (diagonal)  version of their ubiquitous iPad franchise (down from the standard 9.7 inch version).  It takes one heck of a marketing department to scale down the size of your best selling tablet AND create enough global buzz to power a small city… But alas Apple is known for accomplishing almost anything. You'll begin to see other tablet manufacturers follow suit in offering an even wider array of size options. This evolution is happening now.

We think tablets are a great choice for consumers in general, but they're also a great purchase decision for baby boomers and seniors.  We own an iPad (iPad 2), and immediate family members also own and use an iPad (2012), a Samsung Galaxy, a Kindle Fire, a Google Nexus, and a Nook.  (My father in law is the tablet-king owning 4 of 5 the aforementioned!)  Tablets are a lightning fast gateway to the internet to search for news, check your email quickly, check the weather, read an e-book, or listen to some tunes.  Apple's Facetime app is a great way to stay in touch with family (easy to use too) and of course, there's always Skype (available on all tablets) as well.  The tablets today are not complex, they're intuitive… they hold a charge (much better than a laptop)… they're mobile… and they just work.

Our favorite tablet today is the iPad, but be forewarned it's also one of the most expensive.  Direct prices for the iPad mini, the iPad 2, and the iPad run $329, $399, and $499 respectively for the 16G Wi-Fi (only) versions.  Expect to pay a bit more for the Wi-Fi + cellular versions.  Contrast those with prices from the Amazon's Kindle family, including the Kindle Fire HD (8.9″) the Kindle Fire HD (7″) and the Kindle Fire (7″), you'd be paying $299, $199, and *$159 respectively.  (*Note; the Kindle Fire is only available with 8G of memory on the device compared to twice that on the iPad mini).

“From the sidelines to the playing field: Tablets put seniors squarely in the high-tech game”  McKinsey&Company – Cyber boom: Why tablet domination has only just begun.

The biggest knock on iOS/Apple's native operating system  (pick your version- we use iOS6) is the not-ready-for-primetime maps application.  It works OK, but just didn't live up to the hype and expectations of the very well announced Apple map experience!  We're guessing it will be another year before they re-launch this feature, and no doubt Tim Cook (new Apple CEO) won't let the maps app out of the gate until it's near perfect.  Apple doesn't usually make big mistakes, and that was one of them on Cook's watch.  Interesting to note that Apple recently shook up it's management team including the guy that headed up the Apple map launch debacle, Scott Forstall.

There are abundant applications for each of the tablet choices available today.  The Senior List recently published some of our favorite Apple apps for boomers and seniors (click through and add your favorites to the list) and we've written a good bit about smartphone use among aging adults.  As tablets and smartphones continue to evolve, we'll all be relying on them to do even more for us… everywhere… without interruption.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Facetime with dad so I can remind him to take his meds!!

Why Tablets for Seniors Are a Great Choice

As we continue to embrace the digital age, boomers and seniors are becoming increasingly exposed to the technological advances in communication, from laptops to smartphones and tablets. The iPhone 6 may be here, but for the older generations, tablets for seniors are a far more practical choice for a number of reasons.

Tablets are Bigger

The obvious reason that tablets for seniors are preferable to smartphones, is their size. Today's modern smartphone might be up to 5.5 inches in screen size, but with an average 9 inch tablet screen size, these friendly little devices are easier on the eye and promise the same capabilities as the modern day smartphone. They're also far preferable for mobile communication, for example, a Skype conversation with family or friends can be seen far more clearly on a bigger screen.

Tablets are Mobile

While laptops might have been the gadget of choice for older adults some years ago, nobody can deny that they can be clunky.  A laptop might be an ideal choice if it is not frequently used, but for those of us who are still mobile enough to get around on a daily basis, we need a device that can travel with us. The tablet is the perfect go-between for mobile phones and laptops – it has an extensive battery life and can connect to Wi-Fi, which is ideal for emailing, browsing, and gaming in coffee shops, waiting areas and more.

Tablets Can Be Adjusted for Aging Eyes and Vision Loss

Tablets that are back-lit are a huge boost for those with vision loss.  The ability to zoom and enlarge photos and text easily with two fingers is a clear winner over laptops for adults with vision impairments.   Tablets can also be easily adjusted for color contrast, text size, text-to-speech, magnification,  and negative colors.  In this way, tablets are keeping people connected to the outside world who may otherwise be isolated due to their vision.

Tablets for Seniors Can Improve Cognitive Function 

There is no doubt that the gaming capabilities for today's modern tablets know no bounds. In particular, however, when done right, tablet games can be especially helpful for us as we age. Modern-day brain training games like Sudoku and Crosswords have moved on from the pen and paper era to being based within our tablets. Moreover, studies have shown that challenging games like card and brain games can help to improve our cognitive skills and information retention.  As we get older we might have trouble finding enough people to sit down and play a game of cards with, which is why sites like may be preferable may be preferable, giving users the chance to flex their strategic skills without the hassle of a pack of cards.

The power of modern day tablets as a way of keeping in touch and keeping the brain stimulated is continually changing and improving.  With improved mobile internet access and low cost to purchase, there's no reason why every older adult shouldn't have one.


  1. My son has encouraged me to buy IPad. I have older IPhone and he felt it’d be easier since same format. Just haven’t got one yet. I have arthritis in hands and concerned About holding it for Long periods. He says to buy some kind of stand. Very hard to use my phone for certain things. Know the larger screen would help. Can’t decide to buy mini or larger.

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