Free iPads could transform life for elderly

Posted on by Mike Evans

Britain's Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has suggested that giving iPads to lonely pensioners could transform their lives: "They could use Skype to avoid loneliness", he trumpets. In contrast, Labour peer Baroness Wilkins has attacked the proposal. She says it is an idea dreamed up by a 25-year-old who has "no concept of the realities of being an 85-year-old woman living on her own in frail health in 2030."

On the face of it, his suggestion does sound like typical Ministerial pie in the sky. But there is some logic behind it. Of course, no iPad or any other device can compensate entirely for a lack of human contact. But it is a good start. I know from experience of older friends that maintaining email contact and, even, chatting on Skype, can go a long way to tackling loneliness.

Lady Wilkins is surely too pessimistic when she mentions 2030. I believe that the current generation of septua- and octogenariants will be the last to have little or no knowledge of modern communications. By 2030, I am sure, most older people will be familiar with tablets and, even, unanticipated new technical developments that could help combat loneliness. I know that older people take enthusiastically to the iPad as long as they are not told it is a computer. With the right approach, an iPad can accomplish a lot. It will not replace a personal visit, but it can certainly help. In this, Jeremy Hunt is spot on and Lady Wilkins is talking ermine nonsense.

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