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Seniors picking up the latest technology: iPads

6:52 PM, Mar 9, 2011   |    comments
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"I'm just amazed," 88-year-old resident Hannelore Jend said.

She used the device to find a photo of her home village in Germany.

Balfour recently began offering iPad tutorial classes with the five iPads the facility's founder purchased at the beginning of the craze.

"The idea came when I walked into an Apple store on day one of the first Apple iPad sales," Balfour Senior Living Founder and President Michael Schonbrun said. "Seniors are still involved, interested, intellectually curious people."

Not all of them were automatically curious about 21st century technology.

"What's the big deal about it?" 87-year-old Ellen Vandenbroeck asked as she touched the notebook-sized device.

She wasn't convinced an iPad could be useful to anyone until she was told about some of the things she could do with it. The prospect of downloading dozens of books caught her attention.

"I don't believe it," she exclaimed before asking about the facility's iPad classes, which are held twice a week.

The focus for those classes ranges from basics of iPad use to recipes and discussion of current events. Schonbrun says learning such technology isn't just entertainment.

"There are more studies that show that seniors who are intellectually engaged... [it] keeps them not only mentally more alert, but physically healthier as well," he said, adding that the facility will purchase additional iPads and make them available for residents to take to their rooms via a checkout system.

"We are open to improvement," Jend said, responding to the assumption that seniors may not be as interested in technology.

Some residents say technology skills are most useful for staying in touch.

"There's e-mail. That's certainly helpful. That's the only way I hear from my family," 91-year-old Marolyn Stone said.

It led Vandenbroeck to rethink her stance on the iPad.

"It's a whole new world," she said. "It's something I have put off for a long time... But maybe now I'm waking up and think I've got to get into the world of today."

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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