Technology Thrills

By Cheryl Walker

November 20, 2008 4 min read


The older generation has tapped into the power of electronics

Cheryl Walker

Creators News Service

A generation that was excited when radio and television was introduced to their world is now in awe of the technology available to them with computers, cell phones and a host of products to make life easier.

While some seniors are apprehensive in learning to use a computer, plenty of adults 60 and older are signing up for classes every day.

The Carlsbad Senior Center in Carlsbad, Calif. has been continually offering programs on computer literacy, keyboarding, spreadsheets, the Internet, digital photography and e-mail. Classes are kept small to allow more individual attention.

?We had one woman who had never touched a computer and was scared to death,? said Teresa Dunn, activity coordinator at the center. ?She ended up taking every class we had. Now she makes cards and does everything on the computer.?

Having knowledge of this technology has helped seniors stay in touch with family as well as help with daily chores.

?It's wonderful for those who are homebound,? said Dunn. ?They are able to shop, read the news and they don't feel as shut in.?

Computers have also helped loneliness. The Today Show recently featured a story about 70-year-olds Marjorie and Dick Piaget, who met each other in a chat room online and married four months later.

?Seniors make up one of the fastest-growing groups of users on the Web,? said Craig Spiezle, the former director of the Microsoft Senior Initiative, said in a statement. ?They find it liberating to be able to e-mail their grandchildren and other family members, explore job opportunities and hobbies, get information about travel and health and make new friends. Computers and the Internet are helping seniors enhance their community, creativity and employability.?

The older generation is also taking this knowledge on the road. After seniors retire, they have more time to travel. The Information Superhighway has allowed them to do online research before they take a trip and to make their flight and hotel reservations. When they're done with their travels, they upload their photographic memories on the computer.

Cell phones have also had a positive effect in communication for seniors. It has allowed them to have emergency help if they need it right at their fingertips. In addition, since most teenagers have cell phones, seniors are able to have easier contact with their grandchildren.

Technology in home gadgets have made life easier for many older adults. Keypad door locks and deadbolts have helped those with arthritic hands eliminate putting a key in the lock. Car door and bumper guards help people with a problem in depth perception in parking their car. Video doorphones have added security protection. An electric door can even be added to allow a visitor to enter without the senior ever leaving their chair.

And there are even more products on the horizon for seniors.

?There are hundreds of technologies sitting in the labs of American universities and technology companies today that could save billions of dollars in our nation's healthcare bill,? said Eric Dishman, director of Proactive Health Research for Intel Corp. of Hillsboro, Ore., said in a statement to the Senate Special Committee on Aging in 2004.

The Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center is working on robotics and tools to help seniors as well as those with reduced functional capabilities live independently for as long as possible

Work is also being done on robots to help the elderly and disabled cook and clean. The large baby boomer population is looking for solutions to help their aging parents, right down to the task of helping seniors remember to take their medication and get dressed by themselves.

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