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Tip Sheet: Low-Cost Equipment for Seniors

What Are the Equipment Options? How to Find Information

As more functions move online such as video communications, watching movies or videos, reading publications, playing games, paying bills, shopping, you may want to ask yourself: what online activities are important to you? When selecting equipment, you must first determine what functions you need from a computer or pad. Want to have visual calls with family member or health/social service professionals? You will need a built-in camera. Expect to read the daily newspapers? The size of the screen may be important along with enlarging the type size. Want your equipment to be light weight and mobile to take along when traveling? Smaller laptops or pads would work best.

Everyone’s needs are different and there are a large variety of options to select the one that best fits your needs. A good way to start is to take a look at the Consumer Reports Buying Guide to Computers, Laptops, Pads (https://bit.ly/2W5Hjy2) as an overview of equipment types and functions. Want more information? There are many articles available on this topic online.

Once you have defined your equipment needs, how do you determine what equipment is best? There are numerous reviews of equipment from leading sources such as Consumer Reports consumerreports.com, CNet cnet.com, PC World pcworld.com, PC Magazine pcmag.com, and New York Times thewirecutter.com. Read several, as different brands will tend to pop up consistently. Most reviews will recommend budget choices too. This will give you several brands and equipment types to consider. If you are buying new equipment, this information, along with recommended budget options and watching for sales may yield great equipment at great prices to meet your needs.

Other Low-Cost Options for Equipment

Another low-cost option is to consider is certified refurbished equipment. Many computer companies refurbish their own equipment – typically older models – and sell them at a deep discount. Other companies offer certified refurbished equipment from a variety of companies. Some will offer a limited warranty for the equipment. Generally, desktops are less expensive than laptops and pads of various sizes are less expensive than laptops. Searching for “refurbished computer desktops or laptops or pads” yields pages of results. There are many resellers on Amazon and eBay too.

Here are some other low-cost equipment options: some of the Internet Service Providers (such as AT&T, Xfinity/Comcast, Verizon, etc.) offering discounted internet service may also sell refurbished equipment with most priced around or under $150. Or they may know of low or no cost equipment options in your community. Some communities have equipment exchanges that offer used and refurbished equipment on loan or for free. To find information about what your community may offer, contact your Aging Disability Resource Center (ADRC), Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Senior Center or Community Living or Disability Program in your community or state. One more tip: many senior centers and libraries offer free basic computer skills classes. Some communities have volunteer programs for tutoring either at a community site or in the home. Ask the organizations listed above for resources for computer skills classes.

See also FCA’s Tip Sheet on Internet Services for Low Income Seniors: /internet-services-low-income-adults

Prepared by Family Caregiver Alliance, San Francisco:  caregiver.org  800.445.8106         

Information current as of April 2020