Staying Connected

People of all ages are using the internet, cell phones and other technologies to communicate with family and friends in different and exciting ways. In a matter of seconds you can send a message to someone, receive a photo from anyone or email an invitation to anyone you want. While younger people are usually the “experts” on these resources, many older adults also use the internet, social media and cell phones to communicate and receive information.

This is an era when everything, from personal financial records to personal healthcare records, is moving online. However, do not feel like you are left behind by today’s technology.  It changes so rapidly that only the geek squad coming to the rescue can help one to keep up.

If one lives far from family, does not have many friends in the area or has become home bound, it can be problematic to stay connected in traditional ways.

Seniors who did not get to enjoy computers and the internet during their youth, benefiting from the awesome world is often a challenge that is not easily overcome. However, there are some conscious choices that can help one to easily enjoy the digital and globalized world. One of such choices is the use of simple computers that were made specifically for seniors.

Instead of using the traditional computer or laptop to access email, people have begun to use smart phones and/or tablets. Another alternative for the non-technical, hearing impaired, special-needs, or just someone who does not want a computer, an email appliance is still an option.  One email appliance worth mentioning is the Mailbug. It is advertised as being for anyone who wants basic email without the cost of internet, without the complexities, and without the learning curve associated with personal computers and electronic tablets.  One does not have to worry about an internet connection or virus software.  All is needed is to connect Mailbug to one standard landline telephone.

According to reviewers, aside from the Mailbug being very easy to set up and use, it has a comfortable keyboard for fast typing, and the customer service is excellent.  The downside is, it does not accept email attachments and it requires a monthly subscription fee.

The Mailbug device is $49.95 and the email service is $15.95 per month. To obtain more information about the device, contact Landel Telcom at 855-624-5284.

For that population that has accepted the use of the internet and have access, let’s discuss a product that has opened doors of computer technology for many and has become a life changer.  The tablet can be used to do anything a computer can do such as create or print documents or photos. One can play games that stimulate the mind, connect in chat rooms or access social media. They can even be used for reading. Books can be downloaded via apps for free or purchased inexpensively. Tablets are extremely portable and are used by touching the screen.

Download only the apps you need. Keep passwords for the tablet and apps in a safe location. Make sure you are aware if any cost is associated with an app in anyway. Be sure to ask someone if you are not sure. If you are forgetful or afraid you may lose or misplace your tablet, add a tracking device app to it so it will be easy to locate. Also make sure to get a screen protector and case for your tablet.

Here are some apps that may be of interest.

AARP/free/provides calendar of local events in area as well as discounts available to members

Senior Savings/$0.99/provides store, hotel, and restaurant discount

Find My Phone/free/will locate tablet

Good RX/free/compares prices of prescription drugs

Red Panic Button/free for apple users/serves as a medical alert

iBook and Kindle/free/access to thousands of books


Lumosity/free/games and puzzles

Librivox Audio Books/free/thousands of book to listen to

Words with Friends/free/scrabble game

NPR One/free/public radio

Skype/free/video chat

Tapestry/free/social media similar to Facebook

A tablet that already has the apps loaded is the Consumer Cellular GrandPad.  It is an 8 inch device that comes with a case and it has a 5MP camera on the back.

There are only 8 apps preloaded and no other apps can be added. The preloaded apps are call, email, photo, camera, weather, music, companion, and support. GrandPad is simple and secure. It is designed for elderly people to connect with family and friends. There is no need to connect to a Wi-Fi network because it uses Consumer Cellular’s network. The contact book and photo album are downloaded via a smartphone. It has a music playback interface but there is a limited amount of music channels. This tablet is not anyone who is comfortable using a smartphone or computer. It is for the technophobic and disconnected. The device is $200 and the monthly service fee is $40.  For more information, contact Consumer Cellular at 888-667-7470.

Lastly, another simple to use computer is a touch screen all-in-one computer.  The Telikin is a computer system that has a large touch screen monitor, speakers, webcam, large print keyboard, and mouse. It comes pre-installed with apps and none can be added.  It is ready to go right out of the box and it has a big button menu that displays all your favorite functions on the screen at all times. By simply touching the menu option of your choice with your finger, you can get instant access to the Web, email, games, video chat, photo sharing, news, weather, and more. The Telikin has been promoted as being the easiest computer to figure out within a few hours. People with arthritis will love this PC because it is a fixed desktop unit that does not need to be carried in the hand.  It is clearly limited and will upset any tech savvy user. It comes with an 18 inch or a 22 inch display. Disadvantages of this system are only HP printers are compatible and cannot be customized with own games or programs. It is the most expensive of the 3 discussed. The 18 inch is $699 and the 22 inch is $1079 and can be purchased by calling 800-230-3881. Tech support can be purchased for monthly fee of $9.95 or a yearly fee of $99.

The views expressed herein are for information only and do not necessarily represent the official polices of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated or the St. Louis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated or the St. Louis Alumnae Chapter’s Technology Committee.

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