By KATHLEEN GEST
Special to the Record-Eagle
---- — Many of our older generation have weathered World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. They have witnessed the world’s first successful commercial jet liner, Russian’s Sputnik 1 and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. Most recently, they have watched the advent of the Internet. This relates from 65 to 80 years of a different life experience than a much younger generation.
Even though this significant segment of our population was virtually bypassed by the technology revolution, they are now finding it increasingly necessary to have computer skills.
So, they are refusing to be left behind. In fact, many seniors are finding new computer gadgets — including the iPad — to be both useful and stimulating.
“Apple’s iPad offers a simplified experience with technology,” says J.C. Capron, Certified Apple Instructor. “Computers have menus buried within menus. Options over more options. It’s chaos. The iPad eliminates all that while offering access to the same features and services found on today’s computers. Sending an email, there are five buttons. No menus — five simple buttons. Easy.”
For new iPad users, who have never owned an iPhone or iPod Touch, simple things like finding good apps, installing them, organizing them or even deleting them might seem like insurmountable tasks. Fortunately, Capron will be at the Traverse City location of the Senior Center Network for iPad classes. The classes by CityMac will be on two Wednesdays, March 20 and April 17, from 1 to 2 pm.
Research shows that older people can learn to use computers as effectively as anyone else, although seniors don’t necessarily learn in the same way. Most seniors thrive in a supportive setting that provides hands-on learning and translates the unfamiliar language of high-tech into everyday words.
“Having taught Apple classes since 1992, I have developed a clear and concise method for translating techie topics, with analogies, allowing the “non-techie” to relate and understand,” Capron says. “Seniors need this method with encouragement, giving them confidence to explore what most of us take for granted.”
Older adults generally want to be productive and continue learning as they did when they were younger. One of the reasons seniors are displaying an interest in learning new technology and skills is because they understand that learning new things are key components to successful aging. They understand that the computer presents constant mental challenges and so is especially suitable for keeping the mind active in later life.
Capron says the knowledge seniors gain from the classes will stem from participants themselves, because the topics are related to the questions they ask. He intends to provide security, build confidence and reinforce repetition throughout the two sessions.
“The classes being offered at the Senior Center are an open discussion question and answer session,” Capron explained. “I will emphasize that the questions people ask remain on a beginner level. This will give people a broad range of topics to be exposed to…”
For many older adults, the type of training Capron suggests has helped overcome computer anxiety.
And the basic knowledge seniors need for the class?
“None,” Capron said. “Simple as that – everyone will learn something.”
So, bring your iPad to the Senior Center and pay just $5 per person per class. For more information and the required advanced registration, call 922-4911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Bellaw Gest is a local freelance writer. For more about the Traverse City Senior Center, go to www.tcseniorcenter.com.