Do you have elderly parents who listen to audiobooks?

awm03November 29, 2010

My mother is visually impaired, and I would like to get her some kind of audio player so she can listen to audiobooks or music. I'm weighing the pros and cons of various mp3 players or of even just sending her my kids' old portable cd players. Do you have elderly parents that use some kind of audio player? What works for them? My parents have a DVD player -- most will play an audio CD, so that's a consideration too. But a portable device would have some advantages, provided it's simple to use.

The local library has some good stuff on cd and has audiobooks for downloading. My dad is a bit of a technogeek and could download mp3 files for her -- IF I COULD PERSUADE HIM TO USE THE LIBRARY WEBSITE. This rubs up against a social anxiety of his: Libraries are are for "educated people," in his estimation. (Never mind that he has an IQ of 135...) I'm hoping his love of gadgets & computers will overcome his intimidation.

The whole venture is a bit of a gamble, as you can tell!

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Hmm, since the books are for your mom, I'd ask your dad if he would commit to helping her get new books to read before I decided. Audio books are addicting IF the reader is good. I listen to them in my car. Best audio books (including readers) so far include:

The Help
Water for Elephants

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 2:08PM
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My mom listened to audio books on cassettes years ago. She kept the player in the room where she used to read.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 2:49PM
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If I can get my mom interested, then my dad will do anything for her.

I can just imagine how much she would love Ted Kennedy's biography, "True Compass." I think there's enough hook there to get them interested, it's just finding the right set-up: Dad loves gadgets & reads the manuals; Mom is anti-gadget and has the attention span of a gnat. Mom loves biographies, though, and would very likely put up with a small learning curve to hear "True Compass" or anything else Kennedy. She might like the Liz & Dick bio too, which is downloadable at the (dreaded) local library.

I could burn mp3 files to CD to mail to them to make things even easier. I would be such fun my mom to hear some of her old Sinatra/Tony Bennett/Ink Spots/Billy Eckstine favorites...if I can just get her to try it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 2:49PM
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Yikes. You'd think I don't proofread before posting.
Should be "It would be such fun for my mom..."

Sorry. My typos irritate the heck out of me :)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 2:53PM
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I have an iPod and enjoy listening to audio books.

A subscription to might be a good investment. It's about 10 dollars a month. They have LOTS of variety, educational and just plain fun. You can listen to a good section of a selection before committing to it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 4:49PM
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Is your mother legally blind? There is a program run by the Library of Congress that provides free audiobooks and a free player for the books. It wouldn't help with music, but it is a very good program for books and some magazines. Everything is sent by mail and the postage is free. You can check out the requirements at the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Info on books for the blind

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 5:34PM
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Oh camlan, I think you've hit on a good idea there. I just checked the regional talking library offerings, and they're excellent. Loads of stuff my mom would enjoy. Also, looks like I can arrange a shared password; I could make the selections & have them shipped for her, bypassing my stubborn dad. (The talking library is affiliated with a regional university -- doubly intimidating!) To return the audiobooks & player, probably all they'd have to do is repackage them & stick it in their mailbox for pick up. So easy!

Looks like some of the audiobooks are downloadable too. Maybe I could still get an mp3 player for my dad and let his curiosity for gadgets take over. That would help to sell the basic idea. (heh heh!)

The only obstacle is getting my folks to fill out that downloadable application form. It can be impossible to get my dad to do anything that isn't his idea -- he wants to be in complete control, y'know how that goes? And my mom defers to him.

Thanks very much for the tip. I'll look into it further & see if I can get my sister on board. Dad does have a soft spot for the "baby" of the family ;)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 6:49PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

In the past ten years, I have checked out 15 audiobooks from the library every week ( so how many is that?!) for my Dad who lives with me.

Frankly, it is easier to get a bunch from the library than it is to download. Dad can read and look at the cover and decide if he wants to listen to it based on the blurb.

I do try and get his genres, but still, he goes through them so fast.

So, sometimes I hear something like this : "try and get me something that doesn't have a bunch of cooking or cats...I like cats but I don't want to listen to a book about recipes and murder mysteries all together.

I use three library cards because they have a limit of 5. Mine, Dad's and Dh's.

Anyway, even for me the library is so much easier and I didn't have to get an mp3 player with a bookmark feature.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 7:17PM
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Yes, that would be easiest. Unfortunately, neither I nor my siblings live near my parents, so it falls on my dad to make this idea work, and as I tried to say, he won't go to the library. Computers, otoh, he loves. (Trying to work with my parents' quirks here.)

The talking library for the blind approach could be best because of the ease of use of the equipment, the price (free), and the hassle factor (low -- a walk to the mailbox). I could pick out audiobooks for my mom even though I'm half a continent away. And I wouldn't have to worry that my dad won't try navigating a library web site, though conceivably he would once he sees how much Mom enjoys the audiobooks. (On the state talking books site, I saw that juicy biography of Ava Gardner that came out a few years back. Boy, would she love that.)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 7:46PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I thought he might go to the library for your mother's sake.
He could reserve what he wants online then just pick them up.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 10:03PM
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Another advantage of the talking books is that they are not abridged, as some of the commercial audiobooks are. And there is a wider variety available.

If your dad stalls on filling out the form, perhaps it can be done the next time one of you kids visits. Let's just say that I can sympathize with a dad who wants to be in control and do things his way.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 10:05PM
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"Let's just say that I can sympathize with a dad who wants to be in control and do things his way."

Thanks, camlan, I appreciate the understanding. And thanks again for the LoC Talking Books tip.

re: the Shiny New Gadget Approach, my son just got a Sansa Fuze. I'm impressed with how easy it is to use. Big, bright, simple graphics instead of tiny text. Easy buttons & scroll wheel operation. I think even my mom could work it with her magnifying glass. If I preload it with a audiobook, a podcast & some tunes, I'm sure my mom would get my dad to figure it out. If she wants more, then we could introduce the idea of the area LoC Talking Books program or downloads from the local library or even just going to the town library to find audiobooks.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 10:16AM
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Most of the materials that are free for the blind/visually impaired used a Daisy player which you'll need to purchase. It's designed to be used without vision. The format allows one to find things by pages and sections. You can also speed up the reading rate. Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic ( also has some material available in a format the works with Window Media Player. Once you get into the world of materials that are recorded for the blind, the quality of the reading is highly variable because so much of it is done by volunteers.

DH has been blind since infancy and teaches kids who are blind and visually impaired. Let me know if you have questions about the technology.

BTW, not everyone adapts well to audio. Both my mother and mother-in-law were avid readers. Neither liked audio books.

Here is a link that might be useful: Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 6:22PM
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