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Wired for change

Senior adults keeping pace with new technologies

Created date

May 21st, 2013

When Bob and Gail Holter moved to their apartment home at Eagle s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston, they faced the same downsizing dilemma most new residents experience what to keep and what to give away or sell. There was no question that we d bring our books. We re both avid readers, says Gail. The couple lined one wall in their living room with 8-foot bookshelves to house the historical fiction she loves and the biographies and history books he enjoys. But that was in 2005, before e-readers were a common marketplace offering. I got my first Nook for my birthday in 2011, says Gail. I liked it so much that I bought one for Bob two weeks later. As Bob and Gail began to download an increasing number of books to their Nooks, they realized the versatility of their electronic readers. We can take them anywhere, says Gail. If we find ourselves with a few minutes to spare, we pull out the Nooks and start reading. The couple also recognized that the virtual storage capacity of their e-readers reduced the need for shelf space in their one-bedroom, one-bath Brighton-style apartment home. We began giving away the books we had accumulated over the years, says Gail. Bob donated his hardcover books to the Eagle s Trace library, and I divided my paperbacks between the bookshelves in each residence building and the book carousel in the living room. Now we ve replaced the bookshelves in our apartment with armoires for additional storage.

Riding the technology wave

Bob, a retired pipeline safety engineer for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Gail, a retired optician, both used computers for years. But not until their daughter bought them an iPod did they begin considering new technologies. We realize that technology is always changing, says Bob. In fact, after we had our first set of Nook e-readers for six months, we both upgraded to the Nook tablets. And two years ago, we each got our own laptop computer. Gail uses hers to check email and keep up with our family on Facebook. I m writing my memoirs on my laptop. Bob and Gail are part of a growing wave of senior adults embracing the digital age. In April 2012, for the first time since the Pew Research Center s Internet & American Life Project began conducting surveys, more than half (53%) of people over the age of 65 were online. That number has since inched up to 54%.

Always learning

Last November, Eagle s Trace hosted the AT&T Reconnect Tour s Senior TechRALLY, a 15-city tour designed to educate seniors about smartphones, tablets, and wireless technology. We had a tremendous response from our residents, says Pam Burgeson, sales director at Eagle s Trace. More than 80 of them attended to learn more about text messaging, applications, video calling, e-books, and photo sharing. Resident Ruth Herman brought her iPad to the TechRALLY, hoping to learn more about her new tablet. I started using a Texas Instruments computer years ago, says Ruth. Now, my day begins with turning on the computer and ends with turning it off. For tech-savvy seniors like Ruth, one device often isn t enough. Factors like screen size, portability, and available applications determine whether she will use her computer, smart phone, or e-reader. I use my computer for email, my e-reader when I m traveling, and my smart phone for texting family members, says Ruth. I m relatively new to the iPad, so it was nice to have a tutorial at the TechRALLY. There s always something new to learn when it comes to technology.