Holiday Gifts for Boomers and Seniors

Our good friend, Susan Ayers Walker, who co-founded the Silvers Summit at CES, shares a few of her best gift ideas at one of our favorite sites, Techlicious:


High Tech/Low Cost Gifts for the Older Folks in Your Life

Technology can be an older person’s best friend—keeping them connected when it may be difficult to get out, keeping them safe, keeping them entertained, and keeping them physically and mentally engaged.

Here are a couple of ideas that I really like as gifts for an older population.

5star ResponderGreatCall’s 5Star Emergency Response System and Medical Apps – A small clip on device, this personal emergency system lets you help keep your loved ones safe, even when they’re out of their homes, because it relies on the cellular network. Press the button on the device and the service connects you to a GreatCall operator trained to help in emergencies. Enter your doctor’s name, family members and medical advice into the MyGreatCall database and you can rest easier knowing there’s a safety net in place. $49.99 for the 5Star device; $14.99/month for service.

PhotoBucket Storing photos in cloud makes it easy to share your photos with the whole family; it’s a great way to keep close. Photobucket provides tools for easy upload from any device, easy editing tools, and a way to share videos and photos from any device. Free sign-up. Manage remotely to update every occasion. Costs vary by storage space. Another new way to share photos is with cloud based apps that can share photos directly to any device like this one from CloudFrame or Familiar. Both of these can turn any iPad, smartphone or desktop into a photo gallery controlled “by the kids”.

Biscotti™ TV Cam Check in on loved ones from the comfort of your living room using the Biscotti TV Cam. The sleek, small device is easy to use and turns televisions into a giant, high definition video phone, no computer required, $199.

Netflix What I like about NetFlix as a gift for older parents and grandparents is that you can manage it for them. (Just don’t choose the movies that you’d like to see; remember it’s for them.) Your parents (or grandparents) can instantly watch unlimited movies & TV show episodes streaming over the Internet to the TV via most internet connected devices. Or they can just get the DVD or BluRay in the mail. $7.99/month and up depending on service plan.

Free a Senior From Technology Hassles Today

Technology can help seniors without driving them crazy.  You’ve just got to do a little friendly setup and send them on their way. After all, that’s part of the reason they had you in the first place.  Built in tech support.  Here are a few easy tips. 

The Cloud to the Rescue :  The Cloud may sound like some ominous weather forecast but it really means that you can access information anywhere and from any device. Because the information does not reside on a single server but rather in accessible cloud storage you can be at your folks house or across the country and still manage many of their online tasks.  Sound obtuse?  You bet, but here’s a practical example.
Le’st say your parents use Netflix. (Research shows that the 50+ demographic are still the ones most interested in getting shiny DVDs in the mail. Kids would rather stream movies via the PC.)  Well, instead of making your parents go through all the trouble of maintaining a queue, do it for them.   That’s right set up the account and load ‘em up with a list of movies. (Remember to stay away from hard to read subtitled movies and topics that may appeal to you, not them.)  Freshen the list every few weeks and your parents and have an endless source of entertainment.
Pandora for music to abide by. Why Pandora over Spotify?  I think that Pandora is a bit easier to track genres of music. Type in Frank Sinatra and you’ll get all “like sounding music”. Spotify is more driven by what your friends listen to and a bit more convoluted.  Driven by personal tastes it’s easy for you to set up a few channels (even just choose a decade of music) and I guarantee they’ll use it . According to the NPD Group study, roughly 60% of CD sales revenue comes from consumers aged 36 and older–a demographic that hasn’t quite found comfort with new-era streaming music services.
Google Chat  Sadly, Microsoft hasn’t  done much with since it purchased Skype.  PC users will find that setting up Google Talk  for voice conversations and Google Chat for video conversations is really easy and works well. And if you want the whole family to chat at once Google+Hangouts  is just as easy to install.  Yeah, there are more variations on how to do things the Google way,  than with Skype  but they all work easily. And if you’re too embarrassed to tell the old folks you don’t understand read Dan Gookin’s Dummies Book.

Smartphone Photos Unless the elders in your family are photographically inclined get them a mobile phone with a built-in camera. (A flash and autofocus and at least 5 MB of resolution will do the trick. Taking a photo is easy, but more important, sharing a photo via mobile phone tends to be easy, too. Most smartphones figure out whether you use Facebook, Twitter, Adobe, Picassa, iPhoto,  their own photo sharing galleries, automatically and will share your picture with a click.  Just get them registered for d at least 5 MB of resolution will do the trick.) Just get them registered for a service you like and go for it.

Heavy Baggage: One of the biggest problems the elderly face is shopping.  Well, not just shopping, but especially shopping for bulky items that are hard to carry.  is a one stop shop for everything from laundry detergent and paper towels, to basic foods and kitchen items. The site is well organized ( I like going room by room through my home). The savings are pretty good.  The packaging is reasonably ecological and they’ll keep a recurring list for you.  Great way to get household supplies in the house.
Encourage a sense of play. them and can According to the Mayo Clinic, seniors who engage in cognitive activities, play games or participate in crafts enjoy less decrease in memory. A turn by turn game of Words with Friends, Draw Something with a family member, or brain games like Suduko are free or inexpensive.Some games can be played alone and others with friends or pickup friends (careful of scammers).  Games based on scientific neuroscience from companies like Dakim and Posit Science cost more, but have more science theory backing them. 



Free Classes to Help Seniors Learn Tech

I stumbled across this site the other day:  The program is sponsored by Goodwill Community Foundation International to offer learning opportunities ranging from reading to math, but the technology section is particularly good. From Facebook to Pintrest, online banking to Skype, anyone who wants to improve their technology literacy skills can benefit.


Got Ideas to Keep Seniors Independent? There’s a Contest For That

Put on your high tech thinking caps: the HelloAgain Challenge is asking you to share your ideas for the future of senior-centric mobile phones, phone accessories and applications. And it just kicked off this week.

You don’t need to be a techie to enter. Ideas from seniors, caregivers, or other consumers are all welcomed, with no technical expertise required.

Judges include executives from The Blindsight Corporation, emporia Telecom, AARP, Verizon Wireless, GreatCall and the University of California’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Internet Society (CITRIS).