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Tablet or Smart Phone for elderly

(25 Posts)
JustVisiting9 Wed 29-Apr-20 07:35:51

Hi,
My elderly mum is at home alone, and so am I (100 miles away). She's coping with shopping etc. but seems to be getting very lonely. We talk on the phone each day but I think it would be nice to get her a smart phone or tablet so we can do video calls. She said the high point of her day yesterday was when the post man waved on his way past :-(

Problem: Mum is a technophobe. She's actually frightened to use technology because she thinks she'll break it. I could order a phone for her but there's no way she'd be able to set it up. She has a basic mobile but no video calling capability.

Does anyone have any ideas for a simple device I can order to come to me, set up for her, then send on so she literally has to press a button to answer when I call? Or something that I can order for her that will arrive already set up? Or any other ideas? I'm struggling here!

She has Wifi but it might be easier to get a device with a SIM card.

I don't want to spend a fortune, but I'm more concerned with convenience for mum than cost.

Any ideas are very welcome.

OP’s posts: |
nex18 Wed 29-Apr-20 07:37:38

How about a Facebook portal?

JustVisiting9 Wed 29-Apr-20 07:41:01

I did look at Portals but I'm not sure she'd be able to set it up. Even if I set up a Facebook account for her, she'd still need to connect the Portal to her wifi which might be an issue. I'm not really sure how they work... how much set up work is needed before I can call her?

OP’s posts: |
BikeRunSki Wed 29-Apr-20 07:42:58

Has she got broadband?

BikeRunSki Wed 29-Apr-20 07:43:23

Doh, ignore me

Floatyboat Wed 29-Apr-20 07:46:47

I suspect anything would require some initial set up that would not be intuitive and a demonstration in person unless she is familiar with that type of technology already. If she has WiFi presumably she has computer and sort of knows how to use it. Does it have a camera?

JustVisiting9 Wed 29-Apr-20 07:50:04

She's got Wifi because she's got a smart TV. But I had to set that up for her. My dad got Wifi because he used to use a computer, and she never cancelled it when he passed away. But he always used to do technology stuff. I had a challenge talking her through how to change the timer on the central heating not long ago. So it needs to be really, really simple. Even if I try to talk her through it on the phone she will struggle.

OP’s posts: |
JustVisiting9 Wed 29-Apr-20 07:53:59

The thought I had is, I have a spare Android phone. If I re-set it to remove all my apps and data, get a mobile data SIM, remove the PIN and install WhatsAp, would that work? I could ring her landline first and explain how to answer the call on the mobile.

Just wondered if anyone had done anything similar and had any success (or failures - if it doesn't work it will probably make her even more upset)

OP’s posts: |
wibdib Wed 29-Apr-20 07:56:00

Following with interest - I also have a technophobe mum who has - for the first time ever - expressed an interest in maybe having a tablet so she could have video calls with her go and friends - and has also noted that some of her friends have been joining in with bridge games and tutorials so she is worried she will be behind all her friends when lockdown finishes.

She doesn’t have broadband even (although neighbours do so hopefully not too much effort to set up but not even sure if it’s possible currently) and has resolutely resisted getting a smartphone - she even struggles with texting.

I was wondering about a portal too but that would only do half the job as I don’t think she could do bridge things or get YouTube etc.

Hoping to find something that has ‘technophobe granny’ mode that’s a bit like a child’s mode but that I can control from a distance, set something up remotely for her (video call, zoom, YouTube video etc) and then drop out leaving her to finish the call or game etc. Not sure that such a thing exists though?

Dreamersandwishers Wed 29-Apr-20 07:58:21

From experience, I wouldn’t. Mil wanted all the technology to FaceTime BIL . But oh my, we had a very busy time with it. She was scammed twice, by answering a landline call that asked her to log on etc...

She called us multiple times at day and night as she had volunteered to use her technology for the benefits of her friends , even trying to get us to leave my parents anniversary party...
She gave it up after her bank had a chat, and she is missing it now but she was utterly hopeless. We live close by, but DH has told her he’s not going down that road with her again,

LiveintheNow Wed 29-Apr-20 08:12:44

Get an Amazon Alexa Show which will allow voice control and video calling. There is an option for you to link it to your amazon account so you can set it up remotely.

CKBJ Wed 29-Apr-20 08:17:38

This was pre lockdown and Wi-Fi/broadband already installed , I gave an elderly relative my old iPhone. They initially weren’t interested (months) then after a fall and unable to get about and long wait for a hip op that changed. By this time my planned move had happened. I had previously set up the phone for her and created an iCloud account etc. I wrote down step by step instructions using my own iPhone as a guide making them really explicit , including how to add the Wi-Fi passcode to the phone from the bt router, and posted them. I followed this up with a phone call. She referred to the “idiots guide to using an iPhone” as she called it as great,easy to follow and something to refer back to. A week later via FaceTime she was asking how to use safari, App Store etc! We all bought her an iPad at Christmas and she’s now jokingly called Aunt Tech!

JustVisiting9 Wed 29-Apr-20 08:23:00

Thanks for the ideas. I now have a cunning plan...

I have just dug out my old Android phone (I only upgraded in January so it's not too ancient). Luckily, it's already got mum's wifi details stored from when I've stayed at her house. So, in theory, it should automatically connect when she turns it on.

Now need to work out what I can do without a SIM card (I assume Wifi will still work) and how I can remove all my data and link it to a new Google account, without losing the saved WiFi network. Because I'm familiar with the phone, I should be able to help her with any problems.

Worth a try, I suppose.

OP’s posts: |
teqcar Wed 29-Apr-20 08:22:59

Problem: Mum is a technophobe. She's actually frightened to use technology because she thinks she'll break it.

Honest answer OP, don't try and force it on her. She doesn't want it. People often think tech will be fab for elderly people based on how much we utilise it. Lots of older people don't want it and get themselves worried, confused and stressed when we give them it. I know it seems like it would lovely for her, but being completely honest what would be more lovely would be if you respected her fear and let her be.

morelikeaclubsandwich Wed 29-Apr-20 08:25:20

I got my mum a tablet from Argos and went round and set it up with Skype. Had a few hiccups but it does work well. A tip I have is to take a photo of all the settings pages etc as this helps doing tech support over the phone and a pen pointer thing helps them press on the right bit of the screen
"Helping elderly with tech" was on the list of possible activities for the national volunteer squad so it may be worth asking at her local council hub for support

RingtheBells Wed 29-Apr-20 08:25:57

Do you have an iPhone or Android, if iPhone then a cheaper iPad would be best then you could use FaceTime and help and share some of the Apple stuff, if Android then any tablet, I think she will manage on a tablet better than a phone as it is bigger and the keyboard will be easier to use

JustVisiting9 Wed 29-Apr-20 08:26:44

I'm not forcing it on her. She said the other day that she wished she'd learned to use a computer when dad was alive, but she never bothered because he dealt with things like that. She does get frustrated every now and again when I have to do online things for her (e.g. submitting gas meter readings) but it's never been that much of an issue because myself, my sister and her neighbour (who is now shielding) were always happy to help.

She didn't want it, but that was before spending 6 weeks in the house on her own. Things change.

OP’s posts: |
RingtheBells Wed 29-Apr-20 08:30:33

If you already have a spare phone, that sounds fine and see how she gets on with it.

teqcar Wed 29-Apr-20 08:30:34

Sorry OP. It's a really common situation surrounding elderly people and technology, that's all. Just pointing out the other side to things. I'm glad you have found a possible solution.

morelikeaclubsandwich Wed 29-Apr-20 08:30:39

Sorry cross post could put a pay as you go sim in it with say £10.

How will you do video calling on the phone? Whatsapp?

Skype is quite a good app because you can set it to stay logged in. And you can access the account remotely.

Recommend changing the settings to large app icons

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Wed 29-Apr-20 08:37:31

Highly recommend the portal my mum set it up with me talking her through it on the phone it is really simple to set up and really simple to use and the screen is a perfect size and just sits on the side so she doesnt have to hold it or try and prop it up

PigletJohn Wed 29-Apr-20 09:03:34

A tablet is bigger so easier to operate. And has a picture you can actually see.

Fairylillie Wed 29-Apr-20 09:18:07

My MIL (79) has an iPhone (donated by one of the GC when they upgraded). She uses it to make phone calls, FaceTime and she uses WhatsApp to send messages, photos and make video calls.

It took her a couple of weeks to get the hang of it and she kept forgetting to put it on charge to start with but she's very used to using it now. She doesn't use the email as she doesn't understand it (she's worried she'll get hacked etc).

DP has the tracking set up on the phone so he can see where she is all the time (before Corona when she went out all the time).

DownyBuds Wed 29-Apr-20 09:37:34

I bought my mum an Alexa Show and set it all up for her before lockdown but it’s still too difficult for her to use. And she tends to panic f anything goes wrong.

So she is now using what’s app video calling on my old Android phone - with a cheap Giffgaff SIM that I manage on her behalf.

It took a hell of a lot of effort and stress getting it set up though for both of us. We have since done 2 video calls and the novelty has worn off......

Soontobe60 Wed 29-Apr-20 09:43:17

We have tried to introduce some technology to my dm and my MIL, both times it was a disaster!
I'd just stick to phoning her daily tbh. If she gets stressed out about trying to use something new that's not going to help her. I'd also try to send her things through the post that she can enjoy, such as a card, flowers by post, a magazine, anything that can fit through her letterbox.

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