Our digital devices are great for looking at pictures, reading emails, reviewing documents, and so much more. There are times, though, when we really want to put things on paper.
As we have experienced and been told, that is the case for many older adults, who grew up viewing photos on paper and receiving documents in person, by fax, or vial (snail) mail.
In addition, I have to admit sometimes viewing some documents and family photos on even the biggest smartphone screen just isn’t enough.
As one who has explained to others how to email pictures or documents or save them on a cloud drive to be opened and printed from a laptop or desktop connected to a printer, I know it can be a pain. I didn’t like doing it myself. Printing from a usb drive — don’t even go there!
Worse than just a pain, though, it could be enough to convince an already-hesitant senior loved one their smartphone is more trouble than it is worth and belongs in a drawer. Along with the smartphone in the drawer, then, will be all the current and future benefits mobile technology offers to help make aging in place successful.
Fortunately, there is a solution . . . wireless printing. It’s one of those technologies that, once we got it, we wondered how we did without it due to the convenience it offered.
Wireless Home Printing
Wireless printing uses a specially-equipped printer connected to the home’s WiFi. Connected rather easily, in most cases anyway, I might add.
Note that ‘wireless’ does not mean no wires at all, as the printer will still be powered from a standard electric outlet.
Your senior loved one has WiFi in their home, don’t they? While mobile devices will connect to web without it (if the signal is strong enough), many of the innovations that will help seniors age in place successfully — and longer — connect to the web via WiFi. We discuss that in a number of other articles, such as this one on technology adoption.
Assuming WiFi is in place, wireless printing is as easy as 1-2-3.
- Purchase a wireless printer. There are a lot of models available (a search for ‘wireless printer‘ on Amazon produces over 1,000 results) so think about the options of value to your senior — such as scanning, two-sided printing, or multiple paper sizes — and check out some reviews. At the bottom of the article you will find some Amazon best sellers.
- Unbox the printer and set it up. Taking off all the plastic protecting the printer may be the most time consuming part of unboxing. After that, many printers simply require putting paper in the tray, plugging it in, and connecting it to WiFi.
- Select ‘Print’ on your smartphone or tablet (as long as they are connected to the same WiFi network) in the app with the picture, email, or document you want to print. Newer versions of iOS and Android operating systems have the wireless printing function built in, so any wireless printer on the same WiFi connection as the device will come up as an option.
Wireless printing also works with laptop and desktop computers too, though the printer setup is typically more complicated (though not more so than for a printer connected to the computer).
Roles for Family Caregivers
While we have found many seniors can handle the setup themselves, some seniors (and future seniors) will benefit from a helping hand. Side benefit: this is another thing you can do together!
Note that, like other devices, printers may drop the WiFi connection from time to time, so it might be helpful to take reconnection instructions to the printer, particularly if you are a long distance family caregiver.
If you’re like us and simply stumped about what to get senior loved ones for Christmas or their birthday, a wireless printer (and your time to set it up with them) just might be a gift for which they will thank you again and again!