Stuff your Dad likes: (senior-friendly) technology

Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can eat your share of the leftover pizza.

By Jacob Zinn

There is often a generational gap when it comes to understanding high-tech gadgets.


Generations Y and Z have mastered touchscreens, state-of-the-art video game consoles and lightspeed texting. But the older you go, the more computer illiterate people become.

Most everyone born during the Reagan years knows how to surf the Internet (or, at the risk of sounding dated, even how to program a VCR), but there are curmudgeonly Baby Boomers who don’t even know how to use a microwave.

The truth is, my dad is a rather tech-savvy individual. As an engineer, he uses a powerful PC for the array of drafting software required for his day-to-day assignments.

Except he has the resolution set to 800 x 600.

Even with his prescription glasses on he likes the large, easy-to-see desktop icons. He magnifies the text on websites, awkwardly stretching and skewing the images.

He doesn’t have time to squint at smartphones, either. It’s not to the point that my dad’s cell phone is a Jitterbug, but it’s a near-future possibility. The tiny keys on a Blackberry just weren’t designed for his stubby, stubborn fingers.

Set the default text size to 20 points, with a legible font like Helvetica! (Maybe that’s why so many seniors are using iPads – to them, it’s like a jumbo-sized iPhone.)

I fear that as my dad gets older, he may need more 65-plus technology. I picture him flipping through Sears catalogues from the ‘80s in search of LifeAlert or the clapper, quoting the original prices over the phone and giving the customer service representatives a headache. To stay active in retirement, he may buy a Nintendo Wii and only play Wii Sports – the game that came with the Wii.

But at some point, my parents won’t be able to look after themselves, and there’s no amount of readily available senior-friendly technology to enable their future lifestyle. So allow me to sign off with a quick letter to my father:

Dear Dad,

Sorry you had to find out this way, but if you become incontinent and there’s no technology to help that, I’m putting you in a home. (One with a Nintendo Wii hooked up to a clapper.)

Your Son,

Jacob Zinn


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