IT for Parkinson's sufferer

I’d like some advice from others for my brother, aged 65. He has had the disease for maybe 4 or 5 years and is now very immobile. I feel that he could use IT to stay more connected with the outside world - I’m hoping he could learn to use Zoom for example, but he is very reluctant to do this. He has a laptop, which he keeps at his desk in the bedroom - I have suggested that he move it to the lounge where he sits during the day but he doesn’t want to do this. Would it be better if he got himself a tablet? Do others on the forum find a tablet lighter and easier to use? I’d be very interested in hearing your experiences. My brother is probably old for his years, and maybe it is the effect of the disease but he has become very resistant to change, or to trying anything new even if it could improve his quality of life.


This is an interesting question and I personally think it is trickier than it initially appears to be because there are so many variables. Your brother’s interest in using social media and other platforms to pursue interests, stay informed and stay connected is a major consideration but if this is something he is interested in exploring, or can be persuaded to explore, then there are definitely benefits in doing so.

For me at least, tech can be both a blessing and a source of the most immense frustration but the benefits outweigh the challenges. Accessibility options are improving on all sorts of devices but I do find the options for people with dexterity issues under the accessibility settings to be limited and so I have found my own way forwards by exploring what works best for me.

You may very well have looked at all the information I can offer but below is a list of some of the things that I have considered and tried. I am constantly learning from other people and this is one of the real benefits of using tech to stay in touch - finding out what works for other people and adding their tips and tricks to the list of things that I can try.

Abilitynet and other advice sites are worth looking at. Abilitynet normally offers support in the home in terms of developing IT skills for older people or those with a disability. It isn’t a service that I have personally used but it may well be worth looking into although they’re operating under the same constraints as everybody else at the moment so their services are more limited Abilitynet - support in the home

I personally find a touchscreen device easier to use than a non touch screen device though this does come with its own challenges! The main benefits of a touch screen for me are that I can make use of glide typing as demonstrated in this YouTube clip Glide typing in action and I can dispense with a mouse which I find pretty impossible to use at the best of times.

Not everybody likes touchscreens but keyboards can be tricky to use if you have Parkinson’s. If this is an issue then there are alternatives and adaptations that can make life a little bit easier. Abilitynet have a good information sheet about this: Keyboard and mouse alternatives

In terms of operating systems, I personally prefer Android or Apple devices to Windows but I know that people who make use of tech for work purposes often find Windows invaluable and I do have friends who have different devices for different things. I use a Chromebook because I find that the accessibility options suit me and I think they are good value for money. Voice typing is improving though it isn’t perfect yet and if this is a real preference, then I think an iPad or other Apple device is better.

I find a lighter, portable device beneficial and also like the speed and ease with which I can start up a tablet or Chromebook.

In terms of making use of video calls to stay in touch, again I find this to be a mixed blessing. It has many, many benefits but I find sitting still and staying in the required position to participate in a video call for any length of time really challenging and I get very self-conscious of my tremor when I can see myself on screen. If I’m tired, following the flow of conversation can also be a challenge - though I suspect this is the case to some degree for most people! A good tablet stand is a must for me when making video calls but I know that others prefer the flexibility of being able to sit or lie in whatever position suits them.

Every time I think I have run out of options in terms of using technology, somebody suggests something new. I was struggling to take a photograph today because I couldn’t co-ordinate holding my phone still while pressing the button. I was about to give up when my friend suggested setting the timer option on my phone camera and it was a revelation. Such a simple solution but one I had never thought about.

I am constantly learning new things in terms of tech from other people and in spite of the challenges, everything that I learn gives me a new opportunity to engage with something or enables me to connect with people and for me, this is the motivation to keep on exploring what I can use to make my online life easier.

I’m not at all sure that I’ve answered your question and I suspect I have also told you stuff that you already know :woozy_face: but these are just my initial thoughts.

Hoping you manage to find a way forward with this. Jx

I would agree with all that Jackson has written but I think the key issue from your post is that your brother does not seem ready or wish to change his current set up of his laptop in his bedroom. I fully understand your wish to help your brother and that you only have his best interests at heart but unless he is willing or can be persuaded to look at other things all the options in the world are unlikely to make much difference. You write that you feel he could use IT to stay more connected with the outside world and in this I would agree, my point is that he must think that too. I think you have to box clever here -. his resistance to change may become even more deeply embedded if he feels you are pushing him into something he doesn’t want to do. By boxing clever I mean drip feeding. Don’t make a big deal out of it, mention it in passing, tell him about something you have found useful or interesting about IT and asking if he would like to see it, if he has any interests use these to get a foot in the door. Keep chipping away and be patient and he may become more open to exploring with you some of the in options highlighted by Jackson. Good luck

you might suggest a Dragon voice recognition system, they’ve come along way