Dear Donna:

My great aunt lives on a large, wooded farm in mid-Michigan. Unfortunately, she is almost 90 miles away from us. We bought her an iPad during the holidays and are trying to find ways to encourage her to use it to keep in touch with us and to connect with other homebound seniors. Do you have any advice to offer us on ways she can safely make those connections?

Sandy in Saginaw, Michigan

Dear Sandy:

What a thoughtful gift and a great way to help your aunt stay in touch with you! According to a study from Pew Internet Research adults 65 years and older are the fastest growing social media demographic and tablets, like an iPad, are easy for seniors to use. After you have your great aunt set up, preferably with WiFi in her home, here are a couple of sites you can help her navigate as you are teaching her how to use her iPad:

  • Skype or another free video chat service. This may be the very best way to help her feel connected with you and other far away family members. It also offers you peace of mind by allowing you to “see” her for yourself every few days.
  • Find friends on Facebook. Helping your aunt set up a Facebook page (complete with privacy settings) is another way for her stay in touch. She might be able to reconnect with childhood friends and neighbors that she has lost touch with over the years. It might also help her save money if she “Likes” some of her local merchants so she can watch for sales.
  • Set up an email account. This is still the place where older adults spend the majority of their online hours – reading and responding to email messages. Having email access will allow her to keep in touch with you and other loved ones more easily.
  • AARP Online. Their site is rich with resources, helpful articles, entertainment opportunities, online communities and more. You will find information on topics ranging from healthy eating in later life to travel tips for seniors.

We hope this helps your aunt get started on her new iPad!

All the best,


Are you an older adult who enjoys staying connected through social media?

Do you have any tips to share with Sandy? Please add them in the Comments below.

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