Tribune Print Share Text

Today’s technology, tomorrow’s gains

Summit at Greenspring introduces new senior-friendly technologies

Created date

December 20th, 2011

Anyone who has spent time with a teenager knows that the cell phone is today s hottest accessory. That s because smartphones enable the user to text, send email, surf the Web, and post messages to social networking sites such as Facebook. Yet recent studies reveal that the love affair with technology is not just for kids. In August 2011, Pew Research Center released a study indicating that 42% of seniors over age 65 are online, spending a majority of their time using search engines and video-sharing sites such as Skype. A study by Nielsen reveals that six million more seniors are spending time online compared to five years ago. To celebrate the benefits of the latest technologies, Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., recently held a technology summit for more than 100 guests, most of whom don t live at the community. The summit was an excellent forum in which to provide residents and guests a feel for what technology is available and what is on the horizon, says Greenspring resident Robert Bonner, who is president of the community s computer club.

Distinguished guests

The summit featured presenters from across the technological spectrum, including Andy Carle, founding director of the Senior Housing Administration program at George Mason University. Greenspring has always shown an interest in technologies and other innovations that can improve quality of life for its residents, says Carle. Best of all, the residents of Greenspring have shown equal interest in trying new things, so it s a great relationship between the outside community and the people who live there. At the summit Carle provided attendees with a sneak peek at innovative gadgets, including a GPS shoe able to track those with Alzheimer s, a robotic pill manager, a touch-screen computer designed for seniors, an automatic fall detection system, balance-correcting shoe inserts, and a shirt that will monitor and report vital signs. I found Mr. Carle s presentation to be quite interesting, says the summit s resident ambassador Deanna deMember. I especially enjoyed learning about Skype. Several of my friends and one of my daughters use this, and I found his explanation quite thorough. Erickson Living producer Zach Cheney and webmaster Jonathon Gold led a presentation on social media where they revealed that more than ten million Facebook users are age 55 and older. Presenters from Greenspring also provided information about My Nutrition, a Web-based nutritional tool where residents are able to view the dietary values of meals served at the community s four restaurants. The nutritional information provided on the website is a powerful tool to the residents who use it, says Burt Allman, Greenspring s director of dining services. Learning about the food we eat ultimately teaches us how to make better choices.

Playing games

In addition to these thought-provoking presentations, members of Greenspring s popular Wii bowling group were on hand to show the importance of technology to the gaming industry. Ted Campbell, winner of a gold medal in Wii bowling at the 2011 Northern Virginia Senior Olympics, demonstrated the game s social and health benefits. Wii bowling is really a game everyone can take part in, and that s what makes it both unique and fun, says Ted. When we first started playing, we had people in their 80s and 90s who said they just couldn t do it. Yet when they tried it they loved it, and now most of them are leaders of our league. While the summit lasted only one afternoon, the quest for technological knowledge continues daily at Greenspring. As new people move to our community, we all benefit from the addition of more technological knowledge, says Robert. It s the computer club s goal to share that knowledge. The club, which also exhibited at the summit, offers computer classes, including Beginning Computers, Word for Windows, Microsoft Excel, Picasa Photo Management, and Windows Beyond the Basics. At Greenspring we are always learning new things, says Deanna. The summit was a great way to share that fact with those who may one day live here as well.