In the hands of dozens of Hebrew SeniorLife residents are magical technological devices that offer opportunities to view, reflect, connect, peek, play, explore and learn. iPads and other forms of new technology are popping up more and more within our walls, often times gifted by family members. However, residents often struggle to make good use of them.
Across the HSL sites, program staff offer workshops and technology support programs for seniors, but it has become clear that one-on-one support is the key to success when it comes to seniors and technology. Over the past several months, we have experimented by utilizing the knowledge of students to guide residents in their mastery of (or realistically, sometimes a beginning introduction to) mobile and social technology. At Center Communities of Brookline, residents bring their iPads, personal computers, iPhones and general interest to a common room to meet with high school students. Demonstrations of Skype, Facebook and Twitter are followed by personalized support that includes answering each individual’s questions.
In Roslindale, Russian speaking students use iPads set to display Russian text as an opportunity to connect with residents in creative ways. And at NewBridge on the Charles, middle school students participated in a month-long pilot to provide one-on-one iPad support to residents from the Independent and Assisted Living Communities. Each week, the program was fully subscribed with over a dozen residents requesting its continuation.
The wonderful news is that students love coming to us to help. For some, it’s a chance to switch roles, become the “teacher,” and share their technological expertise with older adults. For others, it’s a fun way to fulfill a community service requirement at their schools. And still for others, it is simply rewarding to be helpful and to build new relationships.
Whatever the motivation, students assisting seniors with technology is a no brainer. Having just “tapped the nail on the head” we are looking to build more relationships between students groups and HSL residents to help bridge the technological divide.
Interested in receiving notifications about our weekly blog posts? Subscribe to this blog for email alerts and you’ll be notified whenever new blog material is added to our site.