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Parkville retirees go high-tech

Expo puts latest technology into hands of Oak Crest residents

Created date

December 25th, 2012

When it comes to apples, some people prefer Red Delicious, others Gala, but Scott Phillips is a diehard Macintosh fan Macintosh computers, that is. I ve been an enthusiastic user of Mac computers for many years, says Scott, who owns an Apple desktop computer, laptop, and iPad. I became particularly interested in Mac computers because they were the forerunners in graphics design. They were the first to offer a whole visual experience, which I found interesting and exciting. After seeing that, I was sold on them. According to a study released in June 2012, Scott is part of a growing number of tech-savvy retirees who are embracing the digital world. The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that half of Americans age 65 and older are online, seven in ten seniors own a cellphone, and one in three online seniors use social networking sites such as Facebook. And by 2015, eMarketer forecasts there will be more than 26 million senior Internet users in the U.S.

Tech-friendly community

Oak Crest, the Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md., where Scott lives, is wired with Wi-Fi and hotspots throughout the community s clubhouses for those with laptops or iPads. Internet access is also available in every apartment home. But not everyone who lives at Oak Crest has a personal computer, nor do they need one. The community is equipped with a computer lab featuring high-speed Internet, printers, scanners, and Skype, a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls over the Internet using a Web camera. Resident-taught classes are also offered on a variety of topics from word processing to photo editing and Web page design. In November, Oak Crest presented its second annual Digital World Tech Expo, featuring seminars on digital photography and identity protection, as well as 3D television and Facebook demonstrations. Staff from Oak Crest s on-site TV studio and medical center was also available to demonstrate how technology is being utilized in Erickson Living communities. The expo had something for everyone, says Public Affairs Manager Jeff Getek. The event was designed to provide firsthand opportunities for priority list members and residents to see the latest technology while at the same time offering them the chance to ask questions of our vendors, fellow residents, and staff members. For Scott, a retired military analyst for the Department of Defense, working with computers was an everyday occurrence. He now uses his den as a home office and installed a wireless connection that allows him to use his laptop from anywhere in his Oak Crest apartment home.

Stay connected

The computer is one of the main ways my wife and I stay in touch with our kids and grandkids, as well as linking up with friends and coordinating our volunteer activities, says Scott. We also shop online for most things, so our purchases are delivered to us. We even occasionally shop for groceries online through Giant Food s Peapod, a delivery service that brings the groceries right to our front door. Scott also volunteers designing websites, including his own, thebluecrab.com, about Maryland s Eastern Shore. Most recently, he leads a new Mac users group at Oak Crest. There is a PC-based computer users group here at Oak Crest which has been going on for quite a few years, says Scott. But members of the group were concerned that there was a void when it came to having a forum for Mac users. So I started a group to provide Mac users a forum to discuss ideas and problems and ask how-to questions. As Scott delves into the digital world and becomes more tech savvy, he says he can t imagine life without a computer. In a recent interview on MSNBC.com, Scott said, One of the things I feel like I m getting out of the computer experience is a continuum of learning, and I think it s very important to keep the brain cells flowing.

Tech-savvy seniors

According to a 2011 North American Technographics Benchmark Survey, older Americans are becoming more tech savvy than ever. So what exactly are they doing online? 91% of retirees use email 24% sign up for online coupons 46% send and receive photos by email 44% play solo games online

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