Millions of free iPads for Seniors

Can Apple and IBM change Health Care?

Ruth Schoon learns to use the iPad

Ruth Schoon describes how she now uses an iPad to follow her great grandchildren from afar.

That was the title of a recent Forbes article that prompted me to comment, and my comment is the basis of today’s post. Basically, it was reported that IBM and Apple are partnering with Japan Post, that country’s largest health- and life-insurance company, to provide millions of free iPads for seniors with the aim of improving their health and their lives.

My Response

The Apple iPad is truly an amazing device for seniors. When they’re shown how to use it, the benefits go way beyond just extending life (i.e. more revenue from premiums for insurance companies) or improving health (less expense from claims).

How Training can Change Lives

Watch this video for several heart-warming examples after 46 seniors graduated from an iPad class put on by AARP and the Good Samaritan Society. They speak about how the iPad has changed their lives, and how they have since become avid users of e-mail, FaceTime, Facebook, Pinterest, games, and more.

I first saw this while speaking at the Broadband Communities conference on a panel about delivering fiber broadband networks to assisted living facilities, and it was in stark contrast to the story I told about speaking to a group of 40-50 seniors aged 85-95 here in Austin on The Future of Healthcare.

This senior audience was quite interested and surprisingly alert and engaged, but I was disappointed to learn that not one of them owned a PC, tablet or smartphone, or had ever used the Internet. That meant they were relatively isolated since they could no longer drive, but they also couldn’t do a video call with distant family members or friends, or share photos, or discover new things, or do e-banking even though their Social Security checks were deposited electronically. They were too often forgotten there in their assisted living facility and were desperate for people to come speak to them.

I told this story to the broadband conference audience, suggesting that beyond fast networks the seniors needed someone to show them how to use the Internet with apps they could relate to. The video was shown right after me — perfect timing.

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