I help out elderly people with their computers. The widow across the street, the mother-in-law, the aging father, and so on.They like computers for staying in touch -- through email or Facebook -- and for puttering around. My dad scans stuff into Word and then emails the .doc file to me. That's how he figured it out to work for him. My mother-in-law plays card games on her laptop. Some of them read about world events through the Web browser and check their bank balance.
That's about as far as computing goes for them.
What puzzled them is why it is hard. What frustrates them is why computers fail. The Internet stops working (the WiFi switch mysteriously turned off). The printer stops printing (the spooler bug that Microsoft never got around to fixing). The "bad thing" that happened that "must be" the result of a virus (the contents of the desktop screen were shifted around). Or the time the widow's Internet access was blocked by McAfee anti-virus, newly -- and unnecessarily -- installed automatically by Adobe during an Acrobat update.
(Many times TeamViewer is a great help in letting me fix software problems remotely.)
And so watching the Apple Webcast Monday made me despair over computing for geriatrics. Cook and his kitchen staff showing more and more complex uses for iPads, and less and less interface for Macs. To do one new function involves dragging three fingers from the top (or side, does iPad orientation matter?), and four fingers for accessing currently running apps...
Some kinds of spit screen in certain iPads, semi-operational in others, not at all in most. We're supposed to identify our generation of iPad that from unlabelled models look identically to each other. I don't know why more complexity is now Apple's really great thing.
Maybe software and hardware firms ignore the elderly knowing the last generation will soon die out. It is not, however, just the elderly who suffer from computer complexitis, and so it might be a good idea to start over with a basic computing device.