If you are someone who helps care for a loved one—like your Mom or Dad—who either don’t use or who struggle with computers, here are 10 simple ways to make your life easier while greatly improving their quality of life.
1. Resolve to give an email machine to Mom/Dad, like Presto.
Those reading this who already have Presto, just skip to resolution number two. But if you are helping care for loved ones who don’t have a way to receive an email, well, you’re working too hard. And, more importantly, your loved ones aren’t benefiting from all of the digital connection we all take for granted. So for 2013, if your Mom or Dad don’t use a computer, or they get little value out of the old one that you gave them last year that they find is too hard to use, resolve to get them digitally connected this year. A great choice is the Presto Printing Mailbox ($99.99) with Presto Mail service ($14.99/mo.). With no computer or Internet service required, this is the inexpensive and simple way to ensure Mom and Dad benefit from being “in the loop” with all of those family emails and photos. And, with no contracts required plus a moneyback guarantee, you won’t get stuck with yet another tech gadget that your folks won’t use. Presto guarantees they will love it, and the experience of tens of thousands of other families prove it as well.
2. Resolve to schedule emails to Mom/Dad ahead of time.
20% of Americans help take care of an elder family member while they are still raising their own kids. If this is you, face it, you don’t have time to write and mail letters or make as many phone calls as you might want to. A great way to optimize your time is to plan out communications and schedule them ahead of time. With Presto, when you get that free minute after the kids go to bed Sunday night, you can plan out and write emails to your Mom/Dad for the upcoming week and schedule them for automatic delivery. This is a great way to keep ahead of your care duties plus you can cc: other family members or paid care providers to keep them in the loop. And best of all, Mom/Dad get the ongoing social engagement they need to keep them happy and healthy.
3. Resolve to get the entire family accustomed to emailing Mom/Dad.
One of the best things you can do for your Mom or Dad is to help prevent the social isolation that inevitably occurs as they age. This is especially true for today’s elders, many whom do not have the benefit of digital connection with family and friends. Whether because of the passing of their close friends, or as a result of a move to a new location, social disconnection as they age is almost inevitable. And while those of us who use social media are connected to our friends 24/7, our digitally disconnected loved ones are at high risk of becoming lonely. So even after you get your Mom/Dad a Presto Printing Mailbox, it may still be an effort to “train” your extended family to send frequent emails and photos. Luckily, Presto lets you see who has emailed Mom or Dad (although you can’t read their mail) and even provides a way to “nudge” family members into remembering to send mail more frequently. If you make it your mission to get the kids, grandkids, cousins, aunts and uncles to keep your Mom or Dad in mind, it will go a long way towards enriching their lives with the feelings that can only come from connection to family.
4. Resolve to include Mom/Dad on extended family members’ email distribution lists.
So many extended families use email to keep everyone in the loop these days, they often each create an email distribution list so they can easily fire off a group message, a funny joke, or photo of little Johnny’s first home run. Because they aren’t used to your Mom or Dad having an email address, it is often like pulling teeth to get them to remember to add a new email address to their distribution lists. Be persistent! Every time you see a group email from a relative, take a look to see if your Mom or Dad’s Presto email address is on there. If it isn’t, reply to the sender and suggest that they add it “right now” before they forget. It’s a small thing, but one that can have a big impact on keeping your folks in the electronic family loop.
5. Resolve to get Mom/Dad an email keepsake binder.
One thing we have found at Presto is that Mom and Dad don’t perceive printouts from a Presto Printing Mailbox as “email.” Instead, they perceived them as treasured keepsakes. We all get so much junk email, that we tend to forget the humanity behind receiving a handwritten letter. For digital newbies like Mom and Dad, they think of a piece of Presto Mail as if it were a letter received in their mailbox, which in times past were saved in that shoebox under the bed. You can help promote the good feelings that come from family communication by buying your Presto users a few nice three-ring binders. You can even buy paper that is pre-punched with three holes from the Presto website. The binder will help those trips down memory lane while being a physical artifact that represents their connection with family. Best of all, the binder isn’t my idea. It is what we’ve been told by many, many customers that they do with their parents.
6. Resolve to sign Mom/Dad up for ongoing email subscription.
Besides connection with family and friends, there is a great wide world out there of other information sources and services that deliver their content via email. You can direct these emails to be automatically delivered by Presto just by adding the company or organization to the Presto approved senders list. Many churches deliver their weekly bulletins by email, plus more and more doctor’s offices communicate with patients that way, as well. Even local community events are many times broadcast to area residents by email. Feeling connected to a community can be just as powerful as being connected to family for someone who lives alone.
Presto also includes a few hundred subscriptions to puzzles, games, news sources and articles that can be a great additional benefit to Mom and Dad. Thousands of Presto users enjoy getting a daily dose of their favorite comic strip, crossword or Sudoku puzzle. And many others can’t wait to receive Andy Rooney’s favorite columns or the latest from Doctor Oz. A number of these are free with the Presto service, and most others are very low cost. The Presto Newsstand is a great way to promote cognitive engagement.
7. Resolve to get the grandkids to auto-send Facebook photos to Mom/Dad via email.
Even though younger family members have email addresses required by their schools, they rarely use email to communicate with their peers, choosing rather to use Facebook, Instagram, or other social media. Luckily, there is a free Facebook App called Presto DailySmile that automatically delivers a photo-a-day to a Presto Printing Mailbox user. All someone needs to do is sign up for Presto DailySmile on Facebook, or at http://www.prestodailysmile.com…it’s free! Members can then “tag” photos from albums on Facebook or upload them from their computer to the Presto Printing Mailbox user’s “photo queue.” These photos are then delivered automatically once a day, or at whatever frequency the sender chooses. The Presto user gets a “daily smile” even though the sender can pre-load the photo queue with up to 365 photos. Presto DailySmile is a great way to connect generations with minimal effort.
8. Resolve to schedule strategic “quality of life” messages.
Social engagement isn’t only about fun. Presto Mail can also be a significant tool to improve an elder loved one’s quality of life. Some Presto users have created pre-scheduled daily automatic medication reminder printouts that include pill photos and instructions for taking them. Some Moms and Dads find these extremely helpful for remembering whether they have taken their meds that day. Other Presto users schedule periodic “To-Do” lists for their Mom/Dad or paid caregivers in the home. These range from reminders to clear out the fridge of all expired food to reminders for upcoming doctor’s visits with questions to remember to ask. Some caregivers even send Google Maps directions to the Presto Printing Mailbox when they arrange for friends or neighbors to drive Mom/Dad to an appointment. I have used Presto to deliver gifts of Fandango movie tickets, airline boarding passes, and printouts of interesting articles. These are all commonplace things to do for those of us who use the Internet every day. But being able to open up our non-computer using parents to the world wide web—in a safe and user-friendly way—makes them feel more involved in modern-day life.
9. Resolve to keep the love flowing with auto-paper/ink replenishment.
Presto is extremely easy to set up and use: electric power, regular phone line, ink and paper. That’s it…no Internet service or personal computer needed. But periodically, Mom/Dad will need more ink and paper in their Presto Printing Mailbox. This unique machine was designed by HP to be simple and easy to replenish by anyone, even those of advanced age. And the Printing Mailbox reports its ink status to a website for Presto Account Managers—meaning, you—to see if ink is low or paper has run out. You can resolve to make your life easier by signing up for the Presto Supplies Subscription service, where we detect when ink is low, and automatically mail a replacement ink cartridge to Mom/Dad’s address in time for replacement. You can even include a ream of paper every other cartridge if you choose to. This is a great way to automate your parent’s communication infrastructure and take one more think off of your to-do list.
10. Resolve to get Mom/Dad to grow their own list of email friends.
Your Mom and Dad have spent their entire lives being independent. We have found that it is important for them to not feel that they have no control over their communication technology. So a neat feature of Presto is that their Printing Mailbox prints out a sheet of “business cards” that contain instructions for securely adding someone to their approved sender list. All Mom or Dad has to do is hand the card to someone they want to be able to send them email, and the sender just needs to follow the instructions on the card. Alternately, Mom or Dad can just call Presto’s toll-free help line, and request someone to be added. For many users, this lets them feel in control of who communicates with them and therefore feel more independent.
Resolving to Resolve We know from tens of thousands of current Presto subscribers that taking action on the above 10 items will make your life easier, and your loved ones lives better. Presto was created to do both, with the absolute minimum of cost and hassle along the way. I’ve put links below for further investigation of the above topics.
So what are YOU going to resolve to do? Please feel free to comment below.
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