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Games on the iPad for Older People

Playing Words with Friends on Her iPad

My mother playing 'Words with Friends' on her i Pad

My mother playing 'Words with Friends' on her i Pad

Staying in Touch with Phone, email, Skype, Now iPad Games

My 86 year old mother, an elderly widower (and avid board game player) had seven children more than half a century ago. Her offspring, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live around the world; many of us are far away from her.

We've stayed in touch through phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook, and Skype. But the quality of 'being really in touch' and feeling the intimacy of our relationship was left largely to our imaginations (and the love) and to the memories of the last time we met up. Until now.

This article is about games on the iPad for the elderly which increase the quality of communication between our mother, for example and ourselves - and between her and the rest of the world; about how immediate that communications is - being continuously updated through a game of ongoing scrabble - a 'next move' frequently played on a whim.

  • Through playing word building games (and the use of incorporated 'chat'), or any fun game, we are in touch with our elderly person in a playful way. The ability to 'chat' whilst playing the game is realistic and seriously good - because we are up-to-the-minute with them, just as they are with us.
  • By drawing pictures, they can expresses their artistic selves and share what they're up to, without having to get paints out and make a mess - just when the moment grabs them, even in the middle of the night.
  • Because the iPad is so light, and has no wires, it's easy to move round their house - from table top to bed, or from kitchen to patio, which means elderly people are free once more to be spontaneous about what they want to do next, from looking at Google maps,(fantasizing where we are and what we might be doing) to playing scrabble, to emailing family or friends.
  • Because it's about 'tapping' the screen and not typing a keyboard, it is easier for arthritic hands and fingers! (Plus there's no keyboard or mouse to lug around).
  • I've included a very simple description of the iPad.
  • Illustrations we made on the iPad
  • An imaginary scene of dialogue and thoughts between an elderly person and a family member playing a 'word' on the 'Words with Friends' app on the iPad (to illustrate how connected we really are through the game).

iPad Apps

The website Top 148 Paid iPhone Games writes the app Words with Friends is designed for the iPhone and is compatible with the iPad and says there are "More than 20 million people addicted to the word building, triple score seeking, chat bubble sending goodness".

You can download a 'free' version to try it out - and then simply switch to a 'paid' version really easily. The price rages from approximately from a one off price 1$- $3.

  • You can play up to 20 games at the same time.
  • It has in game chat messaging
  • Push notifications that are speedy.

My other favorite iPad games that I think elderly people might get a lot of fun out of are games they have always played and are completely familiar with, games that bring back fond memories:

Monopoly app which is a favorite with Top 148 too. The classic version is great! Check it out on the Top 148 Paid iPhone games.

Winner of the Best Free game award app in 2008 was Chess with Friends

Longdistance Grandparenting

Elderly people can feel seriously estranged and powerless over how to stay in touch with their families, spontaneously. It isn't always easy to share the moments that are filled with the all-the-little-things-that-count-so-much, because of being separated by distance, time differences and/ or by the busy lives of their growing families.

Being separated over time creates a separation, no matter how well we try not to let that happen. Life, after all, is in the details - in things we go through, or do, or feel, in things that we don't happen to mention on that phone call, because they seem momentarily insignificant.

Piece by little piece, we select to leave out first this-little-thing then others, until we've left out gaping holes of experience. We converse with our loved one, our parent (or elderly person) - censoring our little pieces, as they do the same, until our intimate connection is holding on now by only the finest of gossamer thread; by love. How many times have we helplessly hung up on a loved one and wondered what was really going on?

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Playing an interactive game on the New iPad changes all that; distance, time, being busy- they don't affect the game whatsoever. It's by playing the game we stay in touch.

Playing Words with Friends App with Older Adults

The word building games through the apps are on-going (my mother usually has 11 games on - at the same time).

It works like this;

An imaginary scenario!

You've opened your Words with Friends App

At the back of your mind somewhere you wonder how to make a great score with your letters. Hmmmm. A quick thought for your mother. She is doing the same thing. Hmmmm.

You get to bed, pull out your iPad, or iPhone and make that word. It's late but you like the idea of a chill-out moment's word-building with your mother.

Meanwhile, she's having breakfast say, and there! She has a word to play with. She thinks of you. You have written a message.

On the 'chat' icon that's so easy to find on the right of the screen you tap - "On nights now, so this will have to do for a while. All OK for you?"

She taps back "Not going swimming today. Too lazy. Hope you get enough sleep".

You find her tone a bit weird. You might want to tell her to go swimming, but you agree, if she's tired "It's best to stay home then".

There's the care. Now we both know how we are and that we are thinking of each other. You may note how strange that your mother doesn't want to go swimming, and make a further note to make sure that you will in fact play a word with her later on - on your iPhone during lunch break. You can control how her health and well being is by - being in touch.

This is the best way for an elderly person to feel connected and loved. (And mentally challenged!) And for us to 'keep an eye on them' as we keep tabs on their health (and moods) and enjoy being close.

It's a two way thing for sure.

How to Use the New iPad

My mother re- visited many of her family members in England. She met up with most of her grand children, including a grand daughter that she had not seen for more than six years, (my niece). They were chatting. Someone's iPad was on the table and my mother kept looking at it.

My niece suggested that they have a game of Scrabble since she knew how much her nanny loves playing.

"I could play you Nanny", my niece said, opening the iPad.

"I don't believe you!" replied my mother.

My niece, a very clever, kind, young lady, gave my mother a second iPad that was in the room and talked my mother through. She said

"You tap it and then I'll tap it on mine".

They did.

"Then you tap it".

And so on. It was a revelation to my mother who said

"It just appeared! You mean I can do this?!"

The two of them were scrunched up close together, totally connected. My mother whose motivation was piqued to the tilt had wanted to learn how to play the game on the iPad with my niece.

My niece made it possible by lovingly taking her through the few simple steps on the iPad. We all stood by and watched Nanny getting hooked.

My mother returned to her home in California and through the 'Words with Friends' app she continues her word game with her niece- even though they might only play a word a week!

The extra bonus in all this is that because my mother is in the middle of a game with my niece, she knows exactly what's going on for her (in her personal life, aside from the game). And although she hasn't had a play from her in quite a while, she's up to speed on her grand daughter's busy weeks. She defends her as she would if they were in the same house. She rushes to her defense, "Oh, but she's so busy at the hospital. And she's got exams all week. She hasn't got a minute!"

Now my mother knows what is going on with her grand daughter, she feels for her, imagines where she is and what her work is like in the hospital. She can pick up her iPad and Google map her and fantasize a little longer if she wants, perhaps see the hospital parking grounds and wonder which one is her car. She feels proud of her, she worries for her. She is involved with her emotionally as though they were not divided by oceans and continents, as though they were scrunched up together that day learning how to play a favorite word game of on the iPad in England.

My mother's relationship with her grandchild is vibrantly alive now. Through their iPad 'word building game' they have their own intimate connection.

The iPad

A little basic information about the iPad for elderly people who might be interested in getting one.

  • Its picture resolution very, very clear.
  • It is a tablet, smaller than an A4 piece of paper or card and weighs only 1.44 pounds (for the Wi-Fi model.)
  • It is slim and a pleasure to handle and touch.
  • It can have a leather cover.
  • You open it up - and immediately look at the world and talk to the world.
  • It's like a phone but because it is visual, its images make it so much stronger.
  • There are no cords or flexes. Its battery recharges as a mobile phone's does, and last a very long time.
  • There is no keyboard. You simply tap the screen with two fingers. It's tactile and feels like silk.
  • It is an immediately pleasurable object. It is in no way technologically threatening.
  • You don't have to sit at a desk to access it. You can sit anywhere in your house where there is Wi-Fi reception.
  • This Apple web page has more technical descriptions:

Hockney iPhone Art

Hockney iPhone Art

Best iPad Apps for Drawing

My mother ad sister's picture of favorite dog 'Archie'.  My favorite doggie.

My mother ad sister's picture of favorite dog 'Archie'. My favorite doggie.

My mother and sister's favorite dog 'Blue'

My mother and sister's favorite dog 'Blue'

Making Pictures with Art Apps David Hockney

David Hockney's Fresh Flowers successful exhibition which opened in New York in December 2011 was filled with 100 beautiful images of flowers he had made on his iPhone and iPad using an app called Brushes. He used his fingers to draw. (Free copies can be download off Google Images and have a great variety of choice).

Hockney, who is 74 proves one is 'never too old to be a part of the iPad generation'.

In fact my mother has an artistic nature. My sister, who is also artistic, downloaded two apps to help my mother get started drawing and being creative on her iPad. Together they used the ASKetch app to draw Archie and the app for Blue was ArtStudio.

Now the family sends pictures round and I'll have to get a color printer again! (My black and white laser was great till recently).

Having an iPad and using it to play any kind of game with- and with as many family members and friends as you can find is ALL about having fun, keeping mentally fit and being 100% connected.

My mother loves her iPad tablet and is not afraid to learn how to use it more and more. She even took a photo of herself (with iPhoto) and sent it as an attachment. She is constantly making progress, constantly keeping herself young in mind.

I just read the ad for the new iPad and the words are simply this "Just what you need to do just about anything". I couldn't agree more. Neither can my Mother.


For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. Do you own and iPad?
    • No
    • Yes
    • Not yet
  2. Is there someone close to you who owns an iPad?
    • Yes
    • No
    • Not actually close, but I know someone
  3. Do you like playing board games, or sudoku or cards?
    • Yes
    • No
    • I like playing some games
  4. Do you think you could easily learn to use an iPad to play games with?
    • I don't know
    • Yes
    • Probably not
  5. Are you alredy having fun playing games on your iPad?
    • No
    • Yes
    • Not quite
  6. Can you also paint or draw and make videos on your iPad yet?
    • Yes
    • Nearly there
    • Don't have an iPad yet


Use the scoring guide below to add up your total points based on your answers.

  1. Do you own and iPad?
    • No: +0 points
    • Yes: +5 points
    • Not yet: +2 points
  2. Is there someone close to you who owns an iPad?
    • Yes: +5 points
    • No: +0 points
    • Not actually close, but I know someone: +2 points
  3. Do you like playing board games, or sudoku or cards?
    • Yes: +5 points
    • No: -5 points
    • I like playing some games: +5 points
  4. Do you think you could easily learn to use an iPad to play games with?
    • I don't know: +2 points
    • Yes: +5 points
    • Probably not: +1 point
  5. Are you alredy having fun playing games on your iPad?
    • No: +0 points
    • Yes: +5 points
    • Not quite: +0 points
  6. Can you also paint or draw and make videos on your iPad yet?
    • Yes: +0 points
    • Nearly there: +0 points
    • Don't have an iPad yet: +0 points

Interpreting Your Score

A score between -4 and 4 means: ?

A score between 5 and 13 means: ?

A score between 14 and 19 means: ?

A score between 20 and 22 means: ?

A score between 23 and 25 means: ?

© 2012 Penelope Hart


Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on December 23, 2014:

It's amazing. I'm in touch with my Mum all the time with it. We're so greatful. She has it with her all the time. She loves it. She's watching Netflix in the night when she wakes up now!

torrilynn on December 23, 2014:

I think this helps the elderly feel as if they can do more things on their own

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on December 23, 2014:

Yes, it does and makes them so independent too.

Thanks for your comment.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 23, 2014:

That is really good. I have not gotten into games in my iPad even when sometimes, people invite me. I just can't do it but I do many other things in it. I am happy that it provides opportunities for many older people and that is admirable as it responds to whatever their interests are.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 19, 2014:

Well how kind of you to take the time to comment so kindly. Appreciated! Thank you.

emilybee on July 19, 2014:

what a nice hub! I love the way it is written like you are telling a story. very entertaining and informational, too!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on April 28, 2013:

Thanks so much for sharing your experience of your father's experience with his new iPad. It's an invaluable 'tool' of communication for older people and their loved ones and Im happy for you all.

Yvonne Spence from UK on April 25, 2013:

A great hub Penelope.

We've just bought my dad an iPad for his 90th birthday. He has very poor eyesight and could watch programs on my daughter's ipad more easily than on TV. He also wants to use it to read because it has a bigger screen than the kindle does, and is clearer. After he'd decided this, a sales advisor told me that of all the tablets it is the best for the partially sighted because it is the clearest.

Thanks for providing all this information.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on November 06, 2012:

My mom was scared of computers until someone took the time to show her how simple her ipad was to use. Times have changed and our older people have become modern with the times, fortunately.

Many thanks for commenting.

J. Biaza from USA on November 05, 2012:

I can remember my mom not wanting to use a microwave, only the stove…times have changed. I also think the ipad is great for education and learning for all ages.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on November 02, 2012:

My sweet companion makes the tea whilst I tap the keyboards (or the screen). It seems to work fine. Nice to see you here. Please let me know when you'll be visiting Tuscany won't you?

Micheal from United Kingdom on November 02, 2012:

So true, we are connected 24/7 these days.

We just bought some new smart phones. They can do just about everything you can think off.

All we need now is to get it to make tea and life will be complete :)

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 26, 2012:

So pleased you agree and thank you for commenting.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 26, 2012:

This is important information to be shared. It is amazing at the number of those in the elder set who love playing games on the computer. My Mom sure does. It keeps her mind active and productive. Great info.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 26, 2012:

For Judi Bee. It will revolutionize their relationship and keep it bubbling. It's important for someone to lovingly explain the simple basics though. Touch here, go there, click this etc. Once they have done it once, it's easier than any other computer thing.

Thank you so much for your comments, which are always appreciated.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 26, 2012:

Hope you do buy your mother in law an ipad because she'll love it. The secret is to spend time with her to explain how to do this and that, then once she gets it, she's away!

tillsontitan. Appreciate your votes. The elderly benefit in ways they have never been able to until now - because it is so easy for them and the interaction is immediate. "Face Time" is a god send. We use "Viber" too.

Judi Brown from UK on October 26, 2012:

What an interesting slant on the iPad. We have one and I bet I could convince my Dad to get one too - we live in different countries and it would be a great way for my daughter and him to interact.

Mary Craig from New York on October 26, 2012:

We don't often think of the elderly when we think of iPads, but you have written a great introduction to that. Lots of good ideas and backed up by practical experience!

My children use the "Face Time" application for phone calls, which is really great.

Voted this up, useful, and very interesting.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 26, 2012:

This is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends that are far away. I like the idea that the iPad is like you say so portable and easy to move around with from room to room. I use my iPhone quite often to play games on but I would love to have an iPad and buy one for my mother in law. She'd love one.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 22, 2012:

Do you play games with your mother? I have an ongoing game of 'words' with mine, every day a few moves and we love the contact. They just love the iPad. Thanks for your votes. Appreciated.

Shelley Watson on October 22, 2012:

Brilliant article. I bought one for my mother who was 84 this year. She loves it and the books, both on Amazon and iBooks!. Up, interesting and useful.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 05, 2012:

ChrisneMiranda. Appreciate your votes and wouldn't it be great if Senior Centers had them. I know my brother in law is keen to promote this among the local older peoples homes in England. Thanks again.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 05, 2012:

ChrisneMiranda. Appreciate your votes and wouldn't it be great if Senior Centers had them. I know my brother in law is keen to promote this among the local older peoples homes in England. Thanks again.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 05, 2012:

ChrisneMiranda. Appreciate your votes and wouldn't it be great if Senior Centers had them. I know my brother in law is keen to promote this among the local older peoples homes in England. Thanks again.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 05, 2012:

ChrisneMiranda. Appreciate your votes and wouldn't it be great if Senior Centers had them. I know my brother in law is keen to promote this among the local older peoples homes in England. Thanks again.

Christine Miranda from My office. on October 05, 2012:

Awesome hub. Senior Centers around the United States should offer classes on current technology that would help seniors feel connected to the rest of the world and each other. Voted up & more!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 04, 2012:

iguidentwork. The iPad is my Mother's favorite thing and we are in touch all the time. It is amazing. I hope every older person can have one, one day. Thanks so much for you comment and I'm glad you enjoyed reading my hub.

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on October 04, 2012:

There's a saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but there are a few seniors who aren't afraid of new technology and gadgets, and even enjoying in using them. Thanks to iPad's user-friendly interface, our old folks can use them with great ease. I'm delighted to see your mother using it. Very well written, GoodLady. :)

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 04, 2012:

thanks kumar24894. I do understand that you aren't promoting your hub, but helping me.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 04, 2012:

My mother was terrified too, but my niece really walked her through it and she got it!! Today she sent me a photo of a loaf of bread she made by email! She can't believe how clever she is. Neither can I. Thanks for popping in.

Bev G from Wales, UK on July 04, 2012:

My mother would love an iPad, but she is terrified just at the idea of it. She's had a laptop for 6 years and has never used it. It's not as though she could be called 'elderly' either. She loves her handheld video games! Lovely hub, GoodLady, some great suggestions and very warmly written.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 04, 2012:

Janine, it is amazing! Who would have believed it?

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 03, 2012:

It's wonderful isn't it, how the elderly and the young can connect and be close through this iPad. My mother adores hers. Thanks for your comment

Claudia Porter on July 03, 2012:

My Dad loves our iPad. He just forgets not to touch the screen sometimes and up pops the keyboard or something else. It's been a great way to connect with my daughter. She loves to teach him the newest technology on it. Really nice hub. Thanks.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 03, 2012:

Goodlady, I am sure my kids could teach me a thing or too. I am with your mom on how much my their early knowledge of technology actually is. I grew up with one TV in the house with network television and didn't even have cable TV until I was a teenager. My first computer with internet connection was dialup and I was in my early 20s. I didn't own a cellphone until I was also in my mid 20s. As a middle school etcher, I just couldn't believe how many young kids already own a cellphone. I am showing my age here, but it simply amazes me!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 03, 2012:

The PracticalMommy. It is an amazing way to stay in touch. It's so immediate and my mummy is very very happy - she imagines we are all there. Thanks for your votes.

Janine, Hi! Maybe your younger daughter will show you things you had no idea you could do. This is what so amazes my mother! That she can learn from all her grandchildren and be able to be with them, when she thought that computers were beyond her. Hope you enjoy yours lots and lots and thanks for dropping in to comment. Appreciated.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 03, 2012:

This article is truly very interesting and has a lot invaluable information not only for the eldery but for anyone wanting more information on the new IPad. We own the new iPad, but the way, and love it. My little kids seriously new this mating better than I ever could have imagined. Seriously at 15 months old my younger daughter would ask by name for the IPad to play with. Loved this and will be voting it up and sharing too.

Marissa from United States on July 03, 2012:

What a great way to keep in touch with family, especially those that live long distances from home. I bet your mother loves to connect that way, even though it isn't in person.

Voted up, useful, awesome and sharing!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 03, 2012:

Thanks. I don't know enough about tablets to write about them, just about the iPad, but hopefully others will read your comment and take your advice! Thank you so much for your advice.

Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on July 03, 2012:

I bought a cheap 10" tablet for use as an e-reader and liked it so much I wanted a better one. Much research later I finally settled on an Asus, but the Galaxy wasn't far behind. Both are cheaper than an Ipad and, I think, just as good.

I would suggest a 10" model for most elderly - they are easier to read with the larger size.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on July 02, 2012:

Janis, oh yes! It will make all the difference in the world to your mom and seriously 'up the quality of her life, because she will once again feel connected. There is even a 'talk into' device which is easy to use too, so she doesn't even need to tap to communicate, just talk into her iPad. My mother is overjoyed. She never thought she would be able to do things like it; is surprised at how she can.

Teresa Elizabeth on July 02, 2012:

Doesn't matter what you write about it's always written well and that's what makes it interesting!

kumar24894 from Fuck of HUBPAGES on July 02, 2012:

Millions of application are their for iPad at the apple store suitable for all ages. For more entertainment for the elderly , you should try the new Play Station Vita , an awesome device , more better than the iPad.

Janis Goad on July 02, 2012:

This might be good for my mom! She can't write or type any more with arthritis, and it's hard to phone when she is awake. Great ideas in your hub!

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