Students Bridging Technology Gap in Senior Living

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 12 January 2012

Do you remember the first time you successfully sent and received an email message?

Several PCs, laptops, BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads later, probably not. Technology has advanced tremendously in the last decade, with most of us blazing through computers and gadgets faster than even the speediest internet page load refresh. But not everyone has gone digital at the same speed, and while older adults are more technology-savvy than we tend to give them credit for, there are still many in need of some guidance.

Students at Pace University are making it happen for residents at United Hebrew, a continuing care community in New Rochelle, New York. Per this article on LeadingAge.org, the program (which was also featured in a recent NPR story) is one of several nationwide geared towards seniors who want to ride the information superhighway to which we take for granted having easy access.

Seniors and students are paired together, and as the story relates, many of these pairs develop a strong bond. Before the mentoring relationship even begins, students get a lesson in sensitivity, doing things like taping their fingers together “to simulate the effects of arthritis or a stroke” or plugging their ears with cotton balls to simulate hearing loss.

Perhaps to the surprise of skeptics, program organizer Pamela Norr says the teens and seniors get along well. The seniors are “not criticizing (the teens) for the way (they) dress or clucking their tongue. They’re actually respecting (them) for the knowledge base that (they) have.”


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