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Technology use on the rise at Highland Springs

Created date

June 19th, 2012

Florence Knight appreciates a regular routine. Each day, she walks from her Highland Springs apartment home to the community s computer lab in the Hillcrest Clubhouse. She takes her place at the computer in the front left corner of the room and opens up her email. I seldom miss a day, she says. People are used to seeing me at this computer. After she checks in with family and friends via email, Florence opens up the web browser to read the online versions of newspapers from her old stomping grounds. I m originally from Pennsylvania, so I read the Beaver County Times, she says. Then I moved to Florida in 1980, so I also look at the Fort Myers News Press.

Beyond email

Florence is part of a rapidly expanding group of tech-savvy older Americans. In addition to email and Internet searches, these seniors are embracing the modern landscape of cyberspace. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center s Internet and American Life Project, a third of Internet users over the age of 65 visit social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That marks a 150% increase over a two-year period. Many baby boomers are beginning to make a trip to the social media pool part of their daily routine, says Mary Madden, senior research specialist and coauthor of the report. Wayne Morrow and his wife Judy moved to Highland Springs in August 2007. Like many of their neighbors, they are avid computer users. In addition to accessing the on-site computer lab, the couple has two computers in their apartment home a desktop with a network connection and a laptop with a wireless connection. We use our computers for a number of reasons, says Wayne, a retired engineer for Raytheon TI Systems. We check email, read the national news, check the status of our investments, and catch up with family on Facebook. With four children and six grandchildren spread across all four U.S. time zones, social media is claiming an ever-widening piece of their online pie. Facebook is the only way to keep track of our kids and grandkids, says Wayne. These days they post their pictures on Facebook instead of emailing them to us. The Internet is also coming in handy for more specialized research. Judy s interest in genealogy has gotten a boost in recent years from the explosion of online archives. I traced my mother s family back to the 1200s, she says. One of my ancestors was involved in the Salem Witch Trials; another was kidnapped by Native Americans. I had no idea until I found the information online.

More to explore

Not only are seniors expanding their online presence, an increasing number of organizations are reaching out to older Americans via the Internet. Erickson Living is no exception. Recently, the company unveiled its new customer-focused website at Under the Communities tab, prospective residents and their families can go to the Highland Springs Web page and take a virtual tour. We try to provide as much information online as possible, says Jon Gold, webmaster for Erickson Living. The virtual tour allows prospective residents and their families to visit the community from the comfort of their own living room. It s one more tool to help them decide if Highland Springs is the right fit for them.