Choosing products that are elder-friendly isn’t as easy as it seems. That’s because, like every other demographic, seniors are a diverse bunch with different qualities of life and varying degrees of health. This is why ElderGadget guides outline the most common problems people may encounter when they age, along with which interactive product features may help.
For instance, not every 75-year-old will have arthritis, in much of the same way that not every 58-year-old will have a perfect memory. Though both of these conditions may correlate with aging, there is no one product we can call “senior-friendly” that will be compatible for both of these individuals and their respective situations. Instead, we simply point out the ways in which certain conditions may be amplified or alleviated by strategically choosing products from popular, easy-to-find manufacturers that accommodate your conditions.
Computers is an interesting product category, however, in that most of the interactions that we use to evaluate a machine’s senior-friendliness have nothing to do with the actual computer tower or its hardware. Most of these interactive features actually come in the form of accessories, such as the monitor, keyboard and mouse. These three computer essentials are normally included in a desktop or laptop package, though they can also be purchased as accessories.
Therefore, instead of creating a guide exclusively on elder-friendly computers, we have decided to examine the accessories that can make these big boxes easier to use.
What to Look For in Computer Accessories:
I. Large, Flat LCD Monitors
Seniors with poor eyesight can be intimidated by computers because of the difficulties associated with reading small print. While most software and word processing programs will allow you to change the size of the font as it appears on the screen, there are inherent features in the computer monitor that can also help. Glare can make even large print impossible to read, especially for people with cataracts. Flat LCD monitors reduce this glare. A larger screen also makes everything a bit easier to see. In the interest of practicality you should opt for a monitor that’s between 20 and 22 inches. Anything larger and you may feel like a kid sitting in the first row of a large movie theater.
ViewSonic VX2240w 22-inch Digital/Analog Widescreen LCD Monitor
This 22-inch LCD monitor is great because it works with personal computers (PCs) and Macs. It’s also certified for Windows Vista, so it will allow you to operate this Microsoft system seamlessly. Finally, it’s Energy Star-certified, meaning that it meets a strict set of guidelines set forth by the EPA and the Department of Energy. So it may even qualify for a tax credit.
II. Trackball Mouse
People who are prone to tremors, shaking or general unsteadiness can benefit from a trackball, according to Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University. This is because the trackball reduces your overall movement and amount of precision needed to move the cursor. Instead of relying on all the muscles from your shoulders down to your fingers, a trackball allows you to use only the tips of your fingers, though your palm could be used as well.
Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse
This trackball mouse is nice for individuals who, in addition to shakiness, may have weak wrists, as the Logitech provides a large comfort base where they can rest. The deep red shade of the trackball should also help users who have vision problems, and because the trackball is built into a standard mouse there is no need to purchase multiple cursor-moving devices because the whole family can use it.
III. Easy to Use Keyboard
Most keyboards have color contrasts, as it’s usually white text on black keys. However, keys tend to be small and close together, making it easy to push the wrong ones if your eyesight is failing. If you already own a keyboard an easy solution is large print stickers that adhere right to your keys. If you need a new keyboard it might be a good idea to purchase one with a black-on-yellow contrast, such as the Keys-U-See keyboard
. Those with mobility or motion problems can benefit from an ergonomically designed keyboard that presents the keys in a more natural position, reducing wrist, arm and finger strain.
Microsoft Natural Ergo Keyboard 4000
This split keyboard allows you to position your hands and arms in a more natural manner, preventing strain. It also allows you to customize five keys, which can access the websites, folders or files of your choice, further cutting down on your typing time. It’s earned rave reviews with critics and customers alike, who all love its palm and wrist rest.