Tribune Print Share Text

iCan do it all

Created date

April 16th, 2015
Ashby Ponds residents taking selfie
Ashby Ponds residents taking selfie

"I received an iPad for Christmas from my daughter and her family who are technological gurus,” says Joan Helble. “They seemed inclined to push Grandma into the tech word. Needless to say, I was thrilled to receive the gift.”

Joan, who lives at , an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., represents a growing trend among Americans 50 and older to embrace new technology. In fact, according to Jupiter research, one-third of the 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S. are adults aged 50 and older, who represent the largest constituency.

The iPad is the technology of choice at Ashby Ponds. Over the last two years, iPad ownership has grown at the community by over 1,000%. This should come as no surprise, since hardware forecaster eMarketer predicted this past January that “no less than a billion people across the globe will be using a tablet in 2015.”

“I am continually amazed at the ease one has obtaining information with the iPad,” says Joan. “A flick of the finger is all it takes. It is much easier than a laptop and has a larger screen than an iPhone. It is also easy to adjust font and background color depending on one’s individual eyesight.”

Helping hand

Recognizing the growth in the number of iPads and other tablets at Ashby Ponds, Nan Krueger decided to help her fellow community members use their new devices with a series of classes. 

“At first, the purpose of the class was to teach residents how to download books from the public library system onto their tablets,” she says. “However, that quickly became a secondary focus as the real need was to teach residents how to use the iPad from the prospective of a new user.”

The iPad group, which welcomes users of all tablet computers, quickly grew exponentially from 5 original members to 64 currently active members. 

“These numbers only reflect those who take classes,” says Nan. “I suspect we have at least three times that number who own and use tablets throughout the community.”

Active members of the iPad group have each completed a series of three one-hour lessons and continue to use their iPads regularly.

What is it good for?

Nan admits that the majority of new members to the iPad group are first-time tablet owners.

“But that’s only the beginning,” she says. “Once they understand the basics, which I reinforce with handouts, we are able to delve into the fun stuff. My greatest pleasure is to spend an additional hour, when requested, to review and reinforce information.”

Armed with new knowledge, members of the Ashby Ponds iPad group spend their time using email, Facetime, surfing the Web, and Internet shopping.

“It continually surprises me just how much I depend on my iPad now,” says group member Joanne Harney, who purchased her tablet two years ago. “I travel a lot and enjoy sharing emails, pictures, reading books, and playing games. I am able to do all of this conveniently, thanks to my iPad.”

Ashby Ponds community member Jane Beard received her iPad as a Christmas present from her husband three years ago. Like many of her neighbors, she found Nan’s instruction very helpful.

“Nan was very patient with us and made the class fun,” Jane says. “She showed us that there is nothing to be afraid of when embracing new technology. My iPad is now with me wherever I go on a daily basis. I enjoy the ease of getting email, keeping in touch with far-flung family, reading The New York Times or current magazines, and researching. The iPad also takes wonderful pictures. I have not used my handheld camera since receiving my iPad.”

No stopping now

With their hands firmly attached to their tablets, Nan and many other members of the iPad group recently participated in a community-wide effort to break the record for the largest senior selfie.

“It’s just another way to use the latest technology for fun,” says Nan.

Selfies, or pictures taken of oneself when holding a cellphone or tablet at arm’s length, are currently a hot trend on the Internet. In fact, this past December, the Oxford Dictionary Online name “selfie” the word of the year.

Not wanting to be outdone after seeing a photo in the Palm Beach Post claiming to be the largest senior selfie ever, the Ashby Ponds community responded with their own photo.

“We put a blurb in our weekly community paper asking residents to participate and to bring their devices so we could show that we are technically savvy seniors,” says Nan. “I also emailed the iPad group for volunteers.”

Forty-four Ashby Ponds community members, with their electronic devices in hand, posed for the selfie, which beat out the Palm Beach Post photo and quickly received press, including a spot on USA Today’s Your Take, a photo-sharing site managed by the publication.

“It’s so much fun to keep up-to-date with the latest technology,” says Nan. “Our iPad group has found that the iPad broadens and expands contact with family and friends, and keeps world affairs at our fingertips. 

“Simply realizing that we are able to keep up with new technology gives us all a great sense of accomplishment, and it certainly elevates us in the eyes of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”

“For me, learning how to use the iPad led to a desire to use different types of devices,” says Joan. “I now have an iPhone and a Fitbit. I am having so much fun!”