An iPad mini can serve a lot of different purposes; it can be a book reader, it can be an organizer, a device on which one watches movies, looks at pictures, etc. Reducing the number of functions of such a device in the eyes of an elderly individual is the best way to get him to actually using it. If you tell your grandpa that you’re giving him another type of book, that should make reading easier on his eyes, is the best way to teach him how to use it.
In fact, modern tech is in many ways a mystery to elderly people because of the wide range of functions that they can serve. An old person has been taught that things can be used for one particular activity or for the other.
Getting accustomed to the interface
By “selling” the device as serving a clearly delineated function, you are on the right track to teaching the elder person the basics of usage. Start with the basics, how to start the device, how to tap the screen, how to swipe it and so on. The OS for the iPad Mini as well as the other iPad devices is really intuitive and simple, kids get to use these machines very easily and so should elderly people.
It’s much more a problem of overcoming preconceptions rather than anything else, so work closely with grandpa to teach him the basics. Once he is adept at opening, holing and tapping the screen, you can start to introduce other functions to him, the browser, or any other applications he might be interested in.
What application might grandpa be naturally interested in?
Just like any of us, elderly people will mostly likely enjoy a movie or listening to music. Introduce these functions to them and make sure you choose the easiest and most resilient application to handle these things.
There are applications that offer one a lot of different settings and a lot of parameters to choose from. However, while for us these might seem second nature, for an elderly individual they are just annoyances, things that get in the way of his activity.
So pick applications that offer just the basic functions, and, if possible, don’t have 2 ways of handling a certain activity. For instance, choose a music player that has only the basic functions: play, stop, choose another file from a dedicated movie directory.
When grandpa naturally wants to try something else, say, look some information online about a movie he just saw, use this natural interest to introduce other functions to him. Never impose learning, as you will only lose his interest, instead let him develop an interest in another activity.
For instance, if you’ve taught him how to look at pictures, he might, for instance what to see a detail with more precision. Introduce to him the zoom function. Organic learning, especially for iOS devices is fun, easy to learn but requires patience. As long as you hook your grandpa on the more simpler functions he will begin to learn to use the more complicated ones as his grasp on the simpler ones ensues.