Winter 2018–2019

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Seniors and Technology

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Are you ever too old to learn something new?

Age shouldn’t get in the way of learning something new. Yet some seniors believe that regarding technology, members of their generation missed the window of opportunity to learn. Why is that?

Well, for starters, wrapping your head around a new task takes you out of your comfort zone and can feel somewhat daunting, even frustrating at times. The tech world also moves at a faster pace than most of us do. Cutting-edge apps, software and equipment seem to be released daily and if you’re not reading the latest technology magazines, it’s easy to feel out of the loop.

Tech Program for Seniors

It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L) is a cutting-edge program offered in Spectrum Retirement communities that teaches residents how to tackle the big technology stuff, like video conferencing and sending and receiving videos and images. Residents can use mapping technology to view old neighborhoods or sing Karaoke-style to favorite tunes and even learn how to play multi-sensory stimulation games and trivia. There are more than 4000 pieces of content specifically designed for older adults, regardless of where they are cognitively or physically. Much of the programming is geared toward people living with dementia.

President and Co-founder of iN2L Jack York says, “Spectrum is all about trying to keep their residents, regardless of where they are cognitively, engaged and connected to the outside world. No matter how old we are, we all thirst to stay connected with meaningful experiences, and iN2L helps Spectrum provide that experience. We all have different desires and interests when it comes to music, spirituality, travel, games, etc. This program lets each resident experience the things that are meaningful to them, in a way that adapts to their level of cognition.”

Could the only thing getting in the way between learning a new kind of technology be a mental hurdle?

Common Misconceptions 

 “The biggest misconception about seniors and technology is that they are too old to learn new things,” York says. “Like any of us, regardless of age, if something is frustrating and hard to use we will shy away from it, but if it’s easy and enjoyable we will embrace it. This program makes computers easy to use through a touch screen, and easy-to-navigate interfaces allow older adults to stay connected, stay engaged and have fun. We all want to enjoy new experiences, not be turned off by them.” 

Connecting in More Ways Than Ever Before

Gone are the days of “missing out” due to geographical challenges. Between emailing or texting on an iPad, chatting on a smartphone or initiating a video chat to check in with a loved one, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. Grandparents and great-grandparents can see newborn grandchildren with a click of a button surf the web to find book reviews or learn a new hobby from watching YouTube videos.

“There are all kinds of technologies out there today for seniors, regardless of where they are cognitively. Voice technology provided by Amazon and Google is picking up momentum for individuals living at home,” says York. “Virtual reality is proving to be a source of engagement for individuals looking to try out new experiences. Independent residents moving into senior living communities are coming equipped with cell phones, iPads and a desire to learn new things. Around the corner are all kinds of robotic solutions.”

The real question is: Why not evolve right along with changing technology? If the resources are readily available and the only barrier is mindset, it seems like the perfect time to try something different.