Q. I'm wondering if you can suggest a Mother's Day gift for my 82-year old mother, who is still very active, likes to take classes and has a nice social life with her small group of friends. She always says that she has everything she needs and doesn't want any more gifts and stuff in her life. Still, I'd like to give her something that she won't return. I'm stumped.
A. Have you considered buying a tablet or e-reader for your mother? Even if you insist she isn’t into computers, I have a hunch that this is one gift your mother would love. She wouldn’t be alone. A recent study from the Pew Research Center revealed that nearly half of seniors between the ages of 75 and 79, and more than a third over age 80, are now spending time online. Moreover, half of this population own their own tablet or e-reader. If your mother loves learning and has the dexterity to use a tablet, it could become an integral part of her daily life.
If you gave her the tablet, along with a gift certificate for set-up and lessons from you or her grandchildren — they are the know-it-alls in these matters, after all — think of all the ways that she could enjoy it.
She’d be able to download and read books; listen to her favorite kind of music using an app like Pandora; use email and Skype to talk with her grandchildren; view new photos that the family sends to her by email — and even order grocery delivery.
I like the idea of purchasing an Apple iPad because your mother would be able to participate in “getting started” workshops with other, older newbies at any of its retail stores. They'll set up and personalize her iPad, and help her find and download the perfect apps for her.
But there are other great resources in South Florida that she could take advantage of if that doesn’t appeal to her, and you’re not nearby to help.
For example, there’s SeniorLink Consulting, an award-winning company started by local high school student Sam Steiner. Sam employs his peers to give seniors, who live in and around Boca Raton, one-on-one help with technology, from selecting just the right computer or tablet and getting them set up with apps and programs, to lessons and trouble-shooting. This is a perfect solution for anyone who prefers individual attention in their own home.
For those who reside in Miami, there’s the team at Preemo, which also offers in-home computer training. You can hire them to set up a network in your mother’s home so that she has internet access.
Anne Goldberg, founder of Savvy Senior Services, provides in-home computer and tablet instruction for seniors who reside throughout Broward County.
If you’re not convinced that a tablet would make a great gift, I bet that an e-reader, pre-loaded with a few books by her favorite authors, would be a welcomed gift. The fact that they’re so lightweight, small enough to go in her purse, and easy-to-use makes it an ideal stepping stone to a more feature-rich tablet next year.
And finally, if your mother lives outside the South Florida area, I'm sure you'll find similar resources for individual instruction wherever she is.
Nancy Stein, Ph.D., is the founder of SeniorityMatters.com, a local caregiver advisory and referral service for South Florida seniors and their families. You can contact her at nancy@ senioritymatters.com.