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I'm always on the lookout for good resources for all of you in the Sandwich Generation who are busy caring for elderly parents and their grandchildren. As I wrote last Wednesday, Presto asked me to “test drive” their Presto email printer and Presto Mail service. “Test driving” a product is always fun. This time my senior mom got to help me. There was so much to share with you, I divided the article into two parts. With no further adieu, let’s head to part two!
Prior to the physical set up of the Presto HP a10 printing mailbox for presto service, you can go online to get your senior parents' account registered and prepared so they can use the Presto email printer and service as soon as it is up and running. The Presto site is easy to access and easy to use. The site walks you through setting yourself up as manager and your senior parent as the mailbox user. You select password info, password reminder, and then enter where the Presto will first be located. After that, you select up to five times during the day when your parent’s phone will be tied up for about 5 minutes to check for any email. Those are the only times the phone will be accessed and tied up. Be sure you select your parent’s time zone if it is different from your own.
Next you will select an email address for your parent. The following screen allows you to select from three different print sizes. I personally would select the largest unless it would bother your relative. That way, even if they see fine now, they will be ok if for some reason their eyesight starts to deteriorate and you don’t realize it right away. I know we went through that for a few months when my mom’s cataracts started progressing.
The next few screens require you to add the friends and relatives who will be allowed to email your senior parent. If they aren’t on this list, she will not receive their email. Make sure you type the info correctly and keep a copy of the list, as well as emailing each person with your parent’s new email and what email you used for the friends and relatives. If they have more than one email, they MUST use the one you signed them up for or you must add both their emails. I wrote my mom using a different email than I first signed up for and didn’t realize it hadn’t gone through til I checked my email hours later. 🙂
You can also add the friends’ and relatives’ phone number to be printed on each email along with their cell phone numbers so they can email photos to your senior parent. You can add as many friends, relatives, and emails as you like. When you are done, just click Done Adding. You can always go back in and edit anything so don’t worry if you don’t add everyone right away.
The next page is the Service Plan page. There you will choose between the current monthly price or the current annual price. By the way, they don’t lock you into any kind of contract. If you pay for a full year, then cancel before the year is up, you will receive a pro-rated refund for the unused portion of the subscription period.
Once you make your selection it goes to the credit card page. I’m afraid I didn’t think to type this article as I signed up the first time. I’m working through it now but since I’m already signed up, I can’t re-input the credit card info and go beyond this page. I believe it will take you directly to the main dashboard, however there may be one or two more simple questions first. 🙂
Once you have completed the whole process you can then sign in at any time and see:
- Ink and paper status (how handy is that!).
- The Friends and family list – which you can then edit, update, and add to.
- Messages, reminders, and to do options (this is a great way to remind them about dr. appointments, medication times, etc.).
- Mailbox activity – so you can see how many messages they have received and when.
- Preferences – which can also be edited.
- They even have news for care givers and seniors and special little ezines you can select to have sent to them.
While I was gone, my senior mom loved it when she would get a quick email from me, her grandkids, and other relatives. It gave her something special to look forward to while I was gone so much this summer. She was especially excited when she proudly announced she had been able to add paper to it when it ran out. I was pleased it was so easy for her to do! I suspect the ink cartridge would be more difficult for her, but so far it hasn’t run out of ink. Now that I’m home, I can easily change it, but if you have a tech-shy senior, that’s another occasion to call for help from a neighbor or close-by relative.
I loved the fact that when I flew in late at night Pacific time, too late to call her since she was on Eastern time, I could email her, knowing she would enjoy hearing about my safe arrival the next morning before I was even up!
Some other fun options include:
- You can remind friends and relatives to send her an email using their “nudge” option.
- You can add cute backgrounds to emails – especially nice for holidays, birthdays, etc.
- As I mentioned above, you can use the Presto Email Printer and Service to remind them when to take medications. As long as they don’t have to take them any more often than 5 times a day, you could set up to have a reminder sent to them every time they are to take another dose or medication.
- You can have more than one Presto Email Printer on your account. So if your senior mom has a Presto Email Printer and your Uncle Tom is also in need of some words of encouragement or assistance, you can manage both their machines from the same account.
Three very minor caveats:
- When we started everything up, the machine printed out several introductory emails. It wasn’t a problem, but you should let your relative know so they won’t get confused.
- My mom received an email from my aunt one day. She couldn’t talk to me about it until the next day. For those two days she was stressed out because she couldn’t understand what was at the bottom. Turns out it was a simple ad for Hotmail that must have come with my aunt’s email as Presto does not put ads in the emails. As Tonya Ward, Manager of Sales and Operations, explained, "Presto does not put any advertising of any kind on anything that goes to the Printing Mailbox user. We feel very privileged to be allowed into a senior’s home and we do not want to violate that trust in any way."
- Whatever you send will print out into the Presto Email Printer, whether your relative is there or not. Anyone (neighbor, friend, etc.) can see it who walks by. I would not use it to send highly personal information unless you are sure no one else will have a chance to see it.
After enjoying the Presto Email Printer and Service for the past two months, it’s almost time to return it. We seriously considered purchasing the machine and paying the monthly fee to keep it. If my senior mom lived alone, I’d do it in a heartbeat! It’s that handy! Since we live together, it’s really not that necessary. We can easily transition back to the emails coming to me and I’ll go back to printing them out for her.
Overall, I found the Presto Email Printer and Service to be quite a handy option, that worked very well. I highly recommend it for those with senior parents and relatives, particularly if they live alone and won’t use the computer. It can be a great way to keep them feeling “in touch” with their family and even a good safety device when you use the reminders and to do lists. Those would be especially handy when your parents need to take medication regularly and you can’t be there or call them each time. It’s as good as using my task option on Outlook – maybe better, since it will print out the reminders automatically! All in all, the Presto Email Printer and Service is a very useful tool for the Sandwich Generation care givers and their aging parents!