Is there a computer or software that would be easy for my mother-in-law to understand?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother-in-law is in the early moderate stage of dementia. She's had a computer for years, using it only for access to email, the internet and, every now and then, Microsoft Word. Her computer is on it's last leg and we really need to replace it. I'm dreading it, though. Her needs are so limited and today's desktops and laptops come with so many bells and whistles. I know it's going to be challenge to get her to where she can use her new computer on her own. Do you have any ideas for products or software that would allow her to continue to have access to the internet/email without tons of extras that will just confuse her? She gets such a kick out of communicating her grandchildren and seeing pictures of them. I'd hate to see her current computer die one day soon and leave her with nothing. Thank you!

Community Answers

Tmradius answered...

I don't know what your computer situation is but I certainly don't suggest getting a new computer with either Windows 7 or 8. Stay with Windows XP if that is what you have now. A new Operating system will drive her and you nuts trying to learn something new. My computer is about 7 years old. (I've been working with computers since 1952. I am 95 now.) I teach a lot of 'old' people how to use them. Anybody with dementia is necessarily limited to emails and music. I know; I work with old people with limited mental capacities. Music? Music, yes. If the person can click on a desktop icon to open a music video (either PPS or a YouTube link) you have a wonderful therapeutic option. I wish I could give you more but this may not be the best venue. Frank

Caringdenise answered... recently asked family caregivers to review a product called Presto, that enables email and staying in touch, without a computer! Here's an overview and feedback that members of this community gave about it: Emails & Photos Without a Computer The Tech-Savvy Daughter blog also suggested Family Conference Calls as an option for staying in touch easily. Following up on the music suggestion, here's some information about the positive effect it can have for individuals with dementia: The Wow-Power of Music for People With Alzheimer's Hope these suggestions are helpful!

Ca-claire answered...

I agree with DGraab - the Presto is great! I have one for Dad, and he gets a column from Andy Rooney once a weeks (historical ones, since Andy left us), and then any email sent to him prints out usually while he at a meal. The only drawback, is that there is no way to answer the emails. All you need is a regular phone line, and you can catch deals where the printer is either free or low cost - check Amazon. The monthly fee is quite reasonable.

Windows computers can be a bit daunting for non-computer people. I prefer Apple for the older generation - easier, less likelihood of a computer virus, and usually plug-n-play.

If you are thinking email and games, like mahjongg, solitaire, and such, you could probably use an iPad with either just wifi (if it's available in their home, or the cellphone/wifi iPad if you don't want to mess with wifi, and have a wireless keyboard to go with it. They are quite powerful and the touch screens are sometimes easier than using a mouse for hands that shake.

Hope this helps!

A fellow caregiver answered...

For more advanced stages of ALZ and DM you can download a program called "Time of Day". It shows the moment of the day in a simple sentence. It's about 10 bucks last time I visited the site. Works with windows and is very simple to use.