Don't Retire Without Your iPad

Apple’s iPad has been perpetually in the news as millions of people each month add it to their electronic devices collection. The advertisements on TV and the internet show a sleek, easy-to-use, feature-rich and just plain cool device, smoothly demonstrated for our benefit. Apple as usual does it right and kudos to them for yet another evolutionary product introduction. Might this ingenious creation fit into senior life?

So here I am at 52, right in the middle of the boomers, comfortable with my desktop and laptop, not afraid of the internet and even getting caught up in the whole social media movement, not a technophile but definitely not a technophobe. Despite the glitzy ads and general frenzy, why would I want an iPad? Is there anything new it could add to the quality of my retired life? Well, it turns out there definitely is. Let me tell you about a few things to put a smile on our senior faces…

1. Your best travel friend ever – travel is a significant part of retired life whether we are talking about plane trips across the globe or mobile home journeys across the state. Senior citizens love travel, trips, being a tourist, and visiting unique destinations. An iPad can make the journey that much more enjoyable:

  • A library in your lap – have you ever set aside a book specifically for a pending trip, struggling daily to stay disciplined enough to not start reading it before you get on that eight hour flight? Unfortunately, quickly into the novel you realize that you just do not like it. And you are stuck in a plane far from any bookstore. An iPad allows you to carry a library with you, made up of free books as well as those you purchase. Before you jump on that plane, you can stock your library and have at your finger tips multiple books to dig into. Even better for our aging eyes, with a pinch of your fingers on the screen, you can zoom into the text for easier reading. If you don’t understand a word, tap it and a dictionary pops up to help you out.
  • Mind-boggling Maps – while traveling, you can enter an address and up pops a map but not just any map. With your finger, you can move the map to adjust and view the surrounding area. You can zoom in on your destination to more closely plot your route – just pinch your fingers together. You can change views from map to satellite, tap the location and even see the view from street level! The iPad “knows” where you are and by tapping where you want to go, quickly generated directions for you, including walking and public transportation options. And the nine inch screen makes seeing where you are going much easier than trying to decipher on your tiny phone or GPS. Short of having a personal guide, you are in very good hands.

2. Music and videos – your iPad allows you to store a LOT of music. You can download from iTunes and create your library of songs. Also available are movies that you can easily rent or buy. And the screen size is big enough to enjoy what you are watching or you can again zoom in! While on the road, you are not limited to what is playing on the hotel TV – sometimes in a foreign language – nor do you have to pay for movies – your theater is in your lap!

3. Photos to Go – the incredible resolution of the iPad is perfect to show off your favorite pictures. Your entire collection is easy to browse through or group into appropriate folders. To view a picture, just scroll through your collection and tap your choice. From there you can pinch and zoom in or tap the screen to see the next picture. Some shots were intended to be viewed in landscape mode – no problem. Just turn the iPad sideways and there you have it! If you want to be creative, you can even pick a slide show and quickly match it with a song from your personal library and away you go.

4. Stay connected, or Not – should you have a desire to stay connected during your wanderings, you have email and internet access via your iPad by either utilizing Wi-Fi or including 3G capabilities in your original purchase. 3G allows you to have connectivity basically wherever your phone would work. And the good thing is you can pay for 3G on a monthly basis as you need it – no annual contract. So, if you are heading to Europe for a month, you can pay the $15/mo fee for that month only – very convenient and it makes sense to pay only when you use the service. And again, the ability to zoom in to increase text size is a definitely senior friendly feature.

All in all a companion well worth including in our retirement travels and senior adventures. I find the ability to zoom in on text universally helpful when browsing websites or reading a book or article online. Make the words as big as you need to read comfortably.

The iPad is not cheap, starting at $495 with 16GB of storage (which is a LOT of storage unless you are downloading movies or streaming video). You pay a little more for the 3G capability at $629 and then monthly as you use the service. But no long term contracts are required and having connectivity no matter where you are can be helpful when you are traveling.

Do senior citizens absolutely NEED an iPod? Probably not. Would all of the friendly and diverse capabilities be NICE to have and make a travel experience that much better? I think so. Christmas is just around the corner so it is never too early to start dropping hints.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to