New Feature – Senior Product Reviews

Walker BallJust through putting together PawPawMail, we come across a lot of products (and services) designed for seniors. Some are quite dull. But some are really thoughtful, amazing, unusual, inventive, or just fun. We’ll talk mainly about the latter category.

And since it’s not much fun to rant and rave among ourselves about large keyboards, touch screens, remote controls, and pour spouts for soda/pop/coke bottles, we thought it MIGHT be fun to jump on the internet bandwagon. Yes, we’re contributing to the weird inverted publishing world in which there seem to be more producers than consumers of content. But take the leap of faith, add us to your pile of blogs, and we promise not to tell you daily what we’ve had for breakfast.

We clearly won’t be doing this for every market segment within the senior population, and we’ll risk offending (e.g., “My mom is 102 and uses Microsoft Excel just fine, thank you very much!”). So from the outset we’d like to be clear about whom we’re targeting: older adults who are experiencing mild age-related issues with vision, hearing, coordination, or mobility, as well as those who are being suddenly exposed to new technology. So please don’t take offense if your favorite senior couldn’t possibly need something we mention (or if he deeply resents the term “senior”). We’re jumping into each product as it stands on its own, evaluating its solution to the problems it claims to address.

Thanks! And please, please suggest some of your favorite (or least-favorite) products for us to check out!


PawPawMail featured: “Helping Grandpa Get His Tech On”

New York Times article on personal technology for seniorsCheck out this article on communications technology for seniors (including phone, fax, and e-mail) in the New York Times last week!

It gives a great overview of technologies for helping seniors communicate — from the Jitterbug (the extraordinarily simply cell phone) to fax-based solutions for e-mail… to PawPawMail!

We’re thrilled to be written up (again! see an original profile of our story about senior e-mail in “Easier E-mail for the Older Generation”). But more importantly, we’re excited that the writer captured what we’re doing so well. It’s a better quick summary of PawPawMail than we’ve come up with ourselves:

“…For those who mainly use a computer for e-mail, PawPawMail ( takes the complexity out of the process. For $5 a month, users transmit and receive mail through PawPawMail’s Web site, which features simple graphics, large type and real names rather than potentially confusing e-mail addresses. The account manager, typically a younger family member, sets up the account, creating a list of approved e-mail senders; spammers and phishers cannot get through….”

So, check out one of the best senior technology overviews we’ve seen, and let us know what you think!

Way up yonder at the pawpaw fest

Ohio State Pawpaw Festival Logo

Ohio State Pawpaw Festival

PawPawMail at the Pawpaw Festival!

We’re going to the Ohio State Pawpaw Festival. What’s a pawpaw, you ask? See the pawpaw pictures at the pawpaw page at the pawpawfest website! Pawpaws are a wonderful, tropical-tasting, banana-custard-like fruit that looks a little bit like a papaya.

PawPawMail will be there, shamelessly exploiting its convenient name. We didn’t have the time this week to get together our perfect Pawpaw Recipe for that contest, but at least one member of the PawPawMail team will be participating in the Pawpaw Eating Competition (beware; he placed fourth out of six in one of hundreds of initial trial heats for the Krystal Square Off).

So if you’re within a couple hundred miles of Albany, OH this Saturday and Sunday, stop by our booth, check our how we provide the perfect e-mail to get your (grand)parents in touch with the family without too much fuss, and console our co-founder on his crushing defeat.

How to Configure a Computer for Seniors

qdGuide092When we started PawPawMail (for those who are new to us, it’s a simple e-mail system designed for seniors and their caregivers), we knew that technical support would be significant — after all, it’s a new system, and both users and their managers would have some adjustment.

We didn’t realize, though, how many questions we would get on computer configuration in general. Both in setting up computers ourselves for seniors and in helping others to do so, we’ve become very familiar with the ways that a computer can be made much simpler to use.

Because of this, we thought it would be useful to put together a guide on how a regular computer user might set up a computer for an older relative, or for a large number of seniors at an assisted living facility. Many computers that we’ve seen in regular use by older adults haven’t been altered in the slightest way beyond the default configuration. We hope that by creating a single reference document, we’ll persuade the average computer manager to make some of the easiest changes, and that we’ll persuade experienced computer users to tweak the user interface even more for their parents or grandparents.

The guide is in its infancy — it currently only covers Windows XP (though it will very soon cover Vista and Macintosh) — but we wanted to get it out there for some feedback from the senior care community at large. We hope it is already helpful, but we want to get input from anyone who has worked with seniors and computers. We want this to grow into a more detailed reference for anyone who is configuring a computer for an older user for the first time.

So please send us your thoughts, corrections, wish-lists, and questions to, and check out PawPawMail’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Configuring Computers for Seniors.

We’re back to blogging about seniors, e-mail, and accessible technology in general!

We’ve been gone a while from this blog, but we’ve been hard at work. There should be many more updates on PawPawMail, and maybe even some time to share them, in the coming weeks.

To keep it simple, we’ve been listening to a lot of requests for new features. We’re rolling them out very slowly to make sure that we don’t sacrifice simplicity in any way. We’ve been adding languages, streamlining workflow a bit, and making the setup process even easier.

We’ve also been getting a lot of requests for more general information about computer configuration for seniors. So we’ve gotten together most of the advice we have and created a few documents, which we’ll be releasing soon. Some are PawPawMail guides — quick references for using our e-mail service for seniors, both for the seniors themselves and for the managers. But our next post will talk about the guide we created to help caregivers of any sort set up the computer hardware and software to make the whole system easier to use for seniors (more “accessible”), regardless of whether they’re using our system.

So ask us your questions about seniors, computers, accessibility, and the internet, and give us your advice. We’ll be sure to aggregate it all in what we hope will be some useful and ever-growing reference materials.

PawPawMail in the New York Times!!!

We’re featured in a great new article, just out today, in the New York Times’ “New Old Age” section, about e-mail for seniors:

What distinguishes PawPawMail from other programs is that it is a managed system aimed at caregivers as well as seniors. “PawPawMail is built entirely around the idea of two users,” Mr. Hughes said in a recent e-mail message. “The senior user who actually uses the e-mail account, and the caretaker/manager who helps set the senior up, gets his or her address book going, and screens mail from unknown sources to prevent contact from all the ridiculous number of scams that are directed at seniors.”

It goes on to talk about seniors’ e-mail experiences, generally, and the ability to preserve memories from older parents (and grandparents) when they’ve been recorded electronically.  Check it out!

PawPawMail — The Easiest Email for Seniors

Welcome to PawPawMail — Simple Email for Seniors. We’ve created what we think is the easiest possible way for Senior Citizens to access e-mail.

Without needing to know e-mail addresses, menus, links, or even how to click the back button on a browser, your elderly relative — or anyone new to computers — can use simple e-mail and view photos added by family members and friends. It’s a system managed by you (a younger relative, perhaps a remote caregiver), which allows the system to remain even simpler for the Senior user.

It’s all web-based, so there’s nothing to install, and you can be going in minutes. All the user needs is a computer with internet access — we’ll even show you how to set it up so that it starts directly into PawPawMail, and they never have to do anything but use the simplest e-mail available.

Thanks! Please don’t hesitate to check out the PawPawMail website: Easy Email for Seniors, Elderly Parents, learn how we got started, and see just how easy it is to use. We’re happy to answer any questions you have, and we always appreciate feedback about how to make PawPawMail even easier for the user and even more convenient for the caregiver. We’ll keep writing here about our experiences developing PawPawMail further.