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Tech-savvy seniors stay connected around the world

iPad class at Seabrook helps hone their skills

Created date

July 24th, 2012

When Bert Barry s wife Audriene wanted a recipe for poached pears, she didn t open her cookbook. Bert tapped an app on his iPad called Big Oven and searched for recipes. Bert, who lives at Seabrook, an Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J., uses his iPad for much more than cooking. He s a true social network convert as a regular on Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. He also uses it for reading, music, and email. I ve downloaded several free apps and I use it to stay in touch with my family, he says. An iPad owner since February, Bert learned most of his iPad skills in a class at Seabrook. iSenior, a four-week iPad-based course, helps the 40 to 50 iPad owners at the community get comfortable with their portable computer tablet, become technologically savvy, and stay connected.

Savvy seniors

We cover everything from purchasing the iPad and taking it out of the box to security, apps, and email, says Travis Tanay, course instructor and Seabrook TV coordinator. More specifically, the hands-on course covers iPad anatomy, battery life, settings, WiFi and hot spots, apps, social networking, pictures, email, accessories, and tips and shortcuts. Tanay uses PowerPoint and his own iPad to lead students through each class. They re required to bring their iPad. It s extremely hands-on, Tanay says. The class composition includes both beginners and those more advanced. So far, Tanay has offered two sessions: one in March and one in May. And an advanced class is in the works, he says. For the May session, Seabrook resident and former student Marie Cook assisted him. As a peer, Marie offers encouragement as well as hands-on help. I go around and watch people who may be having trouble and help them with hands-on support, she says. I happen to like new technology. Marie has owned her iPad for over a year and also owns an iPod. Everyone is catching on rather quickly, Tanay says. It s no different than any other person using an iPad. The community itself is wired for those itching to get connected with WiFi and hotspots throughout the two clubhouses, and Internet access is available in every apartment home.

Staying connected around the world

Reasons for taking the class vary as much as those who participate. While Bert enjoys uploading new apps, Rosemary McCann says, I m not that interested in apps. She uses it to stay in touch with her children and grandchildren, and she really enjoys being able to read newspapers from around the world. I read local, national, and foreign newspapers to get a different perspective on the news, she says. Her other top uses include email, receiving photos, and watching YouTube. My son sent me a YouTube video of the song they were going to use for the father/daughter dance, and I was thrilled to be able to see that, she says. And my granddaughter sent me a picture of her left hand with an engagement ring on it! Tanay says Rosemary s story is common. The iPad definitely helps people stay in touch with their kids and grandkids, he says. In fact, several students use their iPad for Skype, a video conferencing tool, to communicate with relatives around the world. I recently set up a Skype conversation with a resident and their relative in Italy. It was great! says Michelle Aguilar, community resources coordinator.

Endless possibilities

Regardless of why people choose to use an iPad, they all seem to agree that they never stop learning. After six months of owning her iPad, Rosemary says, I m doing everything I want on it, but I know there s so much more it can do. Bert agrees. When I first got it, I was flabbergasted at all the things it can do, he says. I m constantly learning more. I wish the class could have gone on longer! Marie predicts more of her neighbors will be getting iPads. It s a nice gift to give a parent because you can share photos and stay in touch, she says.