Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Aging In Place Wednesday

On Wednesdays, Laurie Orlov, tech industry veteran, writer, speaker and elder care advocate will be sharing her insightful research on how seniors can safely and successfully live independent lives in the home of their choice.


Enough: Newspapers are fueling terror
among the elderly and computers

Newspaper writers are bored but assigned to the age beat. How lucky. We have yet another entry in the annals of 'why seniors hate computers news' library. This one from the Boston Globe searches for a way to write condescendingly about seniors and their fear and loathing when it comes to using a computer. We're so lucky -- a Harvard professor has offered their 'insight' about the acceleration of the 'pace of change' and the Cambridge Health Alliance, offering insight on how it takes longer to learn new things. Gee, was this a study? Oops, no, just a few anecdotes, vastly enhanced by the entertaining comments from seniors who have been using computers for years. Maybe that's how they read the Globe -- which would be a revenue-free access method.

Not the first and not the last. And the NY Times did its part in October, offering up a headline to remember -- 'Helping Grandpa Get His Tech On' -- which did its part to drive the bar lower on what we should hope for with seniors and the Internet. And blah, blah, blah, lots of racket about fear of computers and wow, how seniors overcame it. You would think we were talking about the Loch Ness Monster. Let's call this what it is. Reporters FEAR new technology more than disease. And they fear aging more than they fear new technology. Put it together, and you have reporters that hate new technology, fear aging, and whose papers are catering to what they are sure is the demographic of the reader -- a computer-fearing baby boomer with a computer-phobic older family member. So readers will read articles that fuel that fire. But what about the facts?

Seniors know they need access to the world. Enjoy reading the comments from seniors in the Globe article (the best part). And that's why libraries, senior centers, the FloH Club and SeniorNet have credibility as trainers and guides to using computers that seniors need -- in fact, who isn't plagued by new tech? That's why Cisco just released TheValet to simplify wireless access in the home -- and not just for seniors.

So let's get a few facts straight. Thirty-eight percent of those age 65+ are online, according to Pew Research. 26% have access to broadband, maybe they need it, these days, maybe they don't. In the 70-75 age range, Pew says we're up to 45% online. In the 76+ age range, from 17% to 27% since 2005. Gee, might that be a trend? Of those that are online, according to Nielsen Wire, we're talking about e-mail, maps, checking the weather, paying bills, etc. Just what you, the Times reader, the Boston Globe writer, and everyone else is doing, I bet.

So let's rest on this fear-and-loathing-in-computerland. Let's write more about how cybererseniors get in touch with their pals

And this just in -- a new organization (GOAL - Get Older Adults Online) sponsored by Verizon, Microsoft, AT&T, AARP, Comcast, Facebook (!!!), AT&T, T-Mobile and the FCC, among others, launched on Tuesday.

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