Get Wired...No Excuses

By: Adriane G. Berg

CEO, Generation Bold

It was 1954 and the neighborhood was abuzz. We were the first on our block to get a TV. Friends and relatives squeezed together on our plastic slip-covered couch. My Mom ceremoniously placed a  bowl of fruit on top of the humongous TV cabinet. We held our breath. My father turned the knob, and there she was, Miss Francis. We all watched Ding Dong School together.

So went my first joyous encounter with technology. My second came decades later with my first word processor, a Wang (a what ?) with its five page memory, at a cost of $4,000. I never looked back on the loss of whiteout or the rotarty phone. I got wired!

Yes, it was not intuitive, and sometimes I seemed dumber than toast (oh those ---apps!).  But, I refuse to  be left behind in a fog of cloud-based technology. How about you?

Age-friendly computer training

Thankfully, age-friendly tech training is coming to the rescue. Senior Net, around since 1986, has taught over a million boomers and seniors how to use a computer. “I learned many computer skills, which were a great source of comfort, allowing me to stay connected with friends and family, to entertain myself with games and music, to Skype with my daughter, and to stay informed of world events while I was home recovering, “says 93-year-old Martha Streeter.

Everyone learns differently; and many people need live training.  OATS, Older Adults Technology Services, offers live training and inter-generational teaching programs . In 2012, OATS opened the Senior Planet Exploration Center, in New York City, which goes way beyond computer classes.

Hands-on classes are also available through your local senior centers or call your local Department for the Aging.

If you like a college atmosphere, OSHER Life Long Learning Institute, offers courses through many of its over 100 University-based learning chapters.

Once you are computer literate, check out these websites, developed especially for us:

www.Grandparents.com, www.Caring.com, www.RedHatSociety.com, www.BoomerLivingPlus.com, www.SilversPlanet.org, and health hubs like www.PatientsLikeMe.com and www.DiabetesMine.com.

Age-friendly tech design

The importance of technology for boomers and seniors boomers doesn’t stop with computing.  For example, VTech’s CareLine™ is a dual-purpose home phone especialy designed with enhanced audio and big numbers. Careline also provides an easy to use accompanying pendant to make voice activated calls from as far away as 600 feet from your home, making it an emergency support device as well.

From wall sensors, to GPS, to internet search tools like Google,  boomers and seniors are the largest users of technology of any demographic.  The array of technology is vast:

In January, 2013 the Digital Health Summit, www.DigitalHealth.com and the Silvers Summit, www.SilversSummit.com, both part of the Consumer Electronics Show, displayed hundreds of age-friendly health and communication tech items. Now, we can take our own blood pressure or glucose levels and send them automatically through a monitoring system for quick analysis.  Robots that look like penguins and dogs keep us company, monitor our medication and remind us to hydrate. Smart clothing, like a T-shirt that monitors your heart rate, and smart houses that turn off our stove and turn on our lights are all in the age-tech mix, as well as VTech CareLine with its innovative phone system.

Can your brain adapt to so much new technology?

Our brain might be a clue to our tech resistance. The aging brain loses a type of intelligence called fluid intelligence. We may learn new things more slowly and our finger dexterity might also slow down. The good news is that when we force ourselves to get out of our comfort zone, we build a new reservoir of neural connections in our brain. When you take on a difficult task like learning to e-mail, or navigating Facebook, be comforted, you are strengthening your brain.

Ironically, it is the website for CogniFit that is the place to go to tool up 8 areas of cognitive fitness, including the hand eye coordination, memory and speed you need to be a tech savvy adult. It’s fun, too, as you can create a brain prowess competitions with your friends.

Get Wired!