Technology helps tie seniors to the world

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Romaine Redd, left, shares photos of a recent outing with Mary Ann Zawada and Janet Whitaker.
Romaine Redd, left, shares photos of a recent outing with Mary Ann Zawada and Janet Whitaker.

At the Oakwood Common senior living community in Dearborn, MI, residents are using technology in ways many never imagined. Computers, smartphones and related technology is helping to keep residents in touch with loved ones, keep up to date with what's happening elsewhere in the world and enhance their daily lives.

“More and more of our residents are using computers, smartphones, iPads, Kindles and other mobile devices,” said Mary Granata, director of sales for the community, who recently took an informal survey of residents and quickly learned the many ways they are using technology. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the Oakwood Common campus, and a computer room is available for personal use and other activities.

Stella Migliore is one of the residents using a campus computer to follow her granddaughter's blog, where she posts photos and descriptions of her travels around the world. 

Staying connected with children and grandchildren also is important for resident Dorothy Smith, who is a regular Skype user. From the computer in her home office, Smith video chats daily with her two daughters and weekly with her son, who lives in Colorado. When asked how many people she speaks with that way, she quickly answered, “I Skype with whoever will Skype with me.”

Romaine Redd, another tech-savvy resident, appears to be getting maximum use of her iPhone and iPad. In addition to using her smartphone to call and text her daughter and friends, Redd enjoys accessing and reading the Detroit newspapers, along with her church news. While preparing to join other residents on a recent excursion to a nearby tea house, Redd asked Siri, the iPhone's personal voice assistant, for the address of the tea house.

And Redd is rarely without her iPad. She credits her grandchildren with teaching her to use technology and said, “I can shop online, download and watch movies on Netflix, read my Kindle e-books, play games and store my favorite photos.” 

Don Wojack, a retired pharmacist, credits his children and grandchildren with teaching him how to use different software programs and devices. “I enjoy listening to music, so the first thing they gave me was an iPod,” he said.  “Today, I prefer to download TV music channels to the flat screen that's in my home office.” Wojack said that that he has downloaded almost 1,500 songs to iTunes on his computer.

Unafraid of trying new ways to use his computer and iCloud to store and share information, Wojack also figured out a way to transfer and archive family slides from the 1960s and 1970s to digital files on his computer. “This way, I can pass them along for my family to enjoy,” he said.

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