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Hello, my 94 year old mother is finally in a very nice assisted living home. She has cable TV, and wifi computer setup with my laptop computer that I gave her. She has trouble telling time, trouble using a Jitterbug cell phone. Some trouble using a TV remote and some trouble with using a microwave. She has mild cognitive impairment. She refuses to use the laptop I gave her for the internet surfing that she likes to do. She's been in the home one month, and before that she lived independently and used her cell phone and computer and was just starting to have trouble telling time. MY QUESTION is she wants to buy a computer and refuses to use the one I gave her. I know she will have trouble using it and it's a waste of money. But she refuses to use the laptop I gave her. What do I tell her, how do I explain these things to her because her understanding is impaired. She is better in the morning and worse at night. And she is stubborn and has always demanded we get her what she wants. I fear she is not happy in the assisted living home, she doesn't take part in activities and just goes down for meals. Granted, she is 94 and it is hard for her to move around and do things. Thanks.

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Good for your mom. She knows what she wants and what will keep her entertained She would probably do well with an Apple.

A lot of older people don't want to go to activities.
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Bloom, Sunny had an excellent point about about your Mom accidentally giving out personal information, especially if she can learn how to do email.

My elderly Dad use to get all sorts of email and I had to teach him only to open email from someone he knows. Even bright people can get caught up with the number of scams and catfishing going on out there. There are times I want to slap my boss' hand because he gets click happy on emails, STOP THAT !!!
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I would assess the situation regarding her request and determine if it's a wise investment. I take it that you are her DPOA and are bound to use her funds wisely and for her benefit. I'd consider the best way to do that.

You say that you have given her your laptop to use in the AL and she REFUSES to use it. IMO, it's likely that she is unable to use it. Is there something about your laptop that she isn't able to manage?

You also say that she is unable or has difficulty in using a phone, remotes, tv, microwave, etc. So, why would you think that if she can't use any other type of device, another computer would be different?

I think that I would meet with the staff at her AL and talk about her involvement in activities, her attempts to use things like your laptop. Can you get your laptop out and ask her to demonstrate how she uses it? I'd also ask the staff about how other residents are able to manage their laptops. Are many lost, damaged, left unattended? My cousin's AL had a desktop in the activity room, free for all to use, but only one did.

And if she is able to use the laptop, what about her ability to stay safe from online financial exploitation? Would she quickly type in her dob, ss#, address, etc. ? This would perhaps concern me the most. Can you put parental controls on it?

It's a lot to consider. I would question if she understands that she is not able to really get any use from the laptop. Learning new skills is not likely something that she will be able to do.
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bloomschool, I can understand you be hesitant on buying your Mom a brand new computer.

When my Dad [95] moved to senior living, we brought along his computer table, his tower desk top computer, the whole shebang... Dad rarely used the computer as he had password issues, forgetting them, forgetting where he wrote it down, always getting new ones, rinse, repeat, and after 3 tries he was locked out. Eventually he lost interest.

It was sad, as back in Dad's hay days, he would write computer code and develop programs, etc.
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If you get her one at all, I say get her one as close to what she was used to as you can.
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Glad makes good points and gave me some more ideas. If she likes gardening, you could download one of the garden design programs and she could create cybergardens.

There are so many sites that have beautiful photos; you could download them and aggregate them for her - she could browse through them, with a sensation of almost being there.

Animals sites have photos of soft fluffy kittens and roly poly puppies. Travel sites have photos of lovely beaches and other places to "cyber" visit.

As to a laptop, I refuse to use one also because the keyboard is so awkward. I thought it was just me but years ago one of the therapists told me she hated the keyboards on laptops, that they challenged proper ergonomic conditions. That was my experience as well.

They're also hard on the eyes. There's supposed to be something like a 14" distance (may be more or less) from one's head to the screen. If you try to accomplish that with a laptop, you end up holding your arms out at an uncomfortable angle. If you move the laptop too close, the keyboard is too close to your eyes.
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Maybe she wants an iPad? They are very easy to use. There are even apps specially for thosewith dementia. Jigsaw puzzles, word games. Like Stacey said it would help keep her mind active. I know someone that is in the later stages of dementia. She still loves the music, puzzles and pictures on it. And the colors are really very vibrant and will stimulate her brain. She needs help with it, but it gives visitors something they can help her with and talk about. Go for it.
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I'd get her one, but probably an Apple rather than a Microsoft based one. MS's WIN 10 is more complex than previous operating systems, and has a lot of glitches.

You could work with the seller in an Apple store and strip it down to eliminate programs that she probably wouldn't use - just follow the KISS philosophy. And make sure there are games that she could play. That can challenge her, and could be helpful.

Actually, since she's already used a computer, I think it's great that she still wants to use one.
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My dad would awaken in the night with back pain. He would get up and play solitaire on an old computer. It was easier than shuffling cards etc. He loved the game. Now my dad didn't have dementia so he would probably have liked your laptop but a computer is nothing like a car and your mother with her own money is not a three year old. You can probably find a simple computer she can surf the web with. Even if she only used it six weeks, so what. If she doesn't have the funds then I'm with JG, where is her old computer? If she is unhappy with a new one, take it right back for a refund. You could also hire someone to come in and give her lessons on the laptop. If it's a charming person, she might like that better than a new computer. My friend in Santa Fe told me a story about a woman in her late 80s who made extra cash by giving lessons on how to take photos with a cell phone. She frequently has classes of three or four seniors. Maybe one of her friends at the AL has one like she wants? Using the computer is good for her. If it's a hardship for your family then of course you will have to find another solution.
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I say, if she wants a new laptop computer, and can afford one, then get her one. Good for her! At 94, and that she has even attempted to try using a computer, let alone has, albeit in the past, been able to "surf the net"? You go girl!

She may have seen other Seniors using laptops in other areas of the AL facility, and perhaps wantsvto "show off" a bit, and also, it may be an ice breaker, for her to get to know other people who are also using computers around the place!

I don't claim to know all the ins and outs of Dementia, but wouldn't her keeping her mind busy with games and other sites be a good thing, unless she becomes reckless, buying things that she cannot afford?

I don't see any reason why she shouldn't be allowed to buy a computer if she really wants one.
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Would you give a 3 year old a car? No. Understand that her demands are attention seeking. When you go there, take her to the activities.
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Can she afford to buy a computer? If that doesn't present a hardship I think I'd do it. Where is the computer she used in her home, by the way? Getting one as similar to it as you can MIGHT allow her to do somethings in the morning. Or maybe not. That she is used to it would be a big plus. (I have more trouble using the tv remote than using my computer. I've had way more practice on the computer!)

Do you think you could go to some activities with her? "I see on the calendar there will be someone here playing an accordion Monday night. How about if I come and we go see it together?" If you help her get started, she MIGHT go on her own sometimes.

It is all a guessing game about what she will enjoy and what will make her happy. Do your best. Some of your decisions will be wrong -- that is the nature of caring for someone with dementia. Just keep doing your best.
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