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Senior Friendly Guide to a Computer Mouse

by: Max Baumgarten on: 04-22-2010

The name of the device - the mouse - comes from the fact that the back chord, connected to the rear, looks like the tail of a mouse connected to the animal's body. And while the shape of the computer mouse might physically reminder you of rodents, this electronic version makes life a lot easier. Ever since mice were introduced to the public with Apple Macintosh in 1984, the personal computing experience has been redefined and has changed for the best. At its most basic level, a computer mouse is a pointing and click device, which allows you to navigate a personal computer. As your hand moves the device around, the computer registers the movement. Relatedly, pressing down on a button (or buttons) on the mouse corresponds with clicking on the icon on-screen. Properly navigating a computer is no longer just an exercise in typing but also involves motion activated sensors. Especially for seniors who are prone to arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, the process of using a mouse to navigate a computer has become a more efficient experience. Many new computers come with a standard mouse (and a keyboard) but these products generally lack adequate senior friendly features. A generic mouse, for example, uses a rubber ball to track movement, which usually gets dusty and doesn't always respond to subtle hand motions. A default-option mouse usually come with restrictive, short cords that limit mobility. Especially for seniors, a generic mouse is just going to make your computing experience seem tedious and frustrating. A discussion of the ways in which seniors interact with a computer mouse revolves around biomechanics and comfort.  Thus, seniors should assess the features of a mouse in relation to their own physical makeup:

What Seniors Should Look for in a Mouse:

I. Multiple Buttons -A generic default mouse usually that comes with all Apple computers is equipped with a single button. While the single button mouse might seem simple to use, it is clumsy and difficult to utilize in certain situations -- like copy/pasting text.  If you have a mouse with multiple buttons though, you can eliminate one of those step though, able to select and copy text simultaneously. The multiple button is a nice option for seniors who might find the single button option somewhat inefficient. We should also mention that with a multiple button mouse,you use different muscles, which helps to work out different body parts and decreases the chances of contracting carpal tunnel.Magic Mouse This is a great alternative to the default, one button Apple mouse. Its ergonomic design provides your fingers with natural resting spots that correspond with buttons. You can adjust the button functionality, pending on whether you are right-handed or left-handed.

II. Scroll Wheel - A scroll wheel (also known as a mouse wheel) can be used for scrolling a page vertically and (usually) horizontally. Scroll wheels are a nice function for seniors who want to efficiently skim a large chunk of text with minimal wrist movement. Additionally, with certain application like Mozilla Firefox, holding down the control key while rolling the scroll wheel, can increase the size of the text; indeed that''s a good feature if your eyesight is compromised and have a difficult time reading small text.Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer with Tilt-Wheel The Intellimouse Explorer enables both horizontal and vertical scrolling, allowing the user to move the wheel in any which direction. The scroll bar has been designed with a smooth grip, providing an efficient gliding experience to navigate large chunks of text.

III. Wireless - A generic mouse plugs into your computer''s USB port through a cord. The alternative, a wireless mouse, usually comes with a receiver that plugs into a USB port. Using either radio frequency or blue tooth technology,  the transmitter inside the mouse communicates the movement of the device sans cord with the receiver. As many seniors cramp easily when they are situated in the same space (possibly due to arthritis) for a prolonged period of time, a wireless mouse provides a refreshing sense of mobility.  We suggest that if a wireless mouse piques your interest, you look for one that is rechargeable so you could avoid the ongoing cost of batteries.Targus Notebook Wireless Rechargeable Laser Mouse This rechargeable, battery-free, wireless can be used pretty much anywhere, which will essentially let you create your own work space, anywhere up to 30 feet feet of the actual USB port. The mouse has an on/off switch to conserve power; you can use it two to three hours at a time before recharging it.

IV. LightweightThe benefits of a lightweight mouse should not come as a surprise. The lighter the mouse is, the easier it is to move. The easier it is to move, the quicker you can arrive at your desired on-screen destination. Finding a lightweight mouse is of particular important for seniors with weak muscular strength or those with arthritis. A lightweight mouse is also a great buy if you travel on a frequent basis.Think Outside Stowaway Travel Mouse This travel mouse is quite light, weighing in at 2.6 ounces. Those featherweight numbers make the mouse easy enough to move around without straining any muscles. We should also note that while it is a travel size mouse, it is not too small for your hand to properly grasp.

V. Laser functionality - Keep in mind that seniors are prone to poor eye hand coordination so . If you have trouble with accuracy (navigating the mouse so it lines up perfectly with the desired on-screen icon) then you might want to invest in a a mouse with laser functionality. With increased sensitivity to your own movements, laser mice  work on any possible surface, except glass mirrors.Logitech MX1000 Laser Cordless Mouse The Logitech MX1000 Laser Cordless Mouse is all about precision. With the ability to accurately respond to hand motions on any surface, it is considered 20 times more sensitive than your generic mouse.

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  • DeNae 12-29-2011 05:34 AM
    Double clicking is my mom's problem. Any suggestions other than setting mouse "speed" from controll panel?