The modern grandparent isn't slowing down; that's no secret. But increasingly, the older generation is embracing technology. That's right: smartphones, laptops, and even tablet PCs aren't just for the younger generations anymore.
But what's most impressive is that some of today's grandparents are becoming totally tech-savvy, making use of iPads and iPhones like nobody's business -- and some of them were born before the television was ever invented. It's pretty amazing to think how far technology has come in under a century.
Take Tealy Baumgartner, for example. She's 93, and she's taken to the iPad her grandson bought for her like she was born using it. According to the Denver Post, Baumgartner checks out satellite images of the home in Connecticut, where she spent 50 years of her life, using Google Earth. She keeps in touch with three generations of family members through email and photos sent via her iPad, which sports a neon green smart cover. (Baumgartner isn't just tech-y, she's trendy, too.)
"I don't know what I did without it," she tells the Post. Because Baumgartner has lost much of her hearing, she can't use the phone to communicate with loved ones. Her iPad has allowed her to accommodate her condition to keep in contact with family members, no matter where they are.
Today's tech is senior-friendly
More than half of Americans 65 and older are now online, according to a Pew Internet survey released in June. And it's not just because they grew up alongside the technology industry. As tech advances, it also becomes more intuitive, in many cases. Take Apple's iPad, for example, known for its ease of use. The iPad has earned recognition for its usefulness from everything to therapy for disabled children to aiding in cognition for older adults.
Senior-focused tech workshops meet increased demand
Despite modern technology's general ease of use, there are still some seniors who don't quite grasp it at first. To help them overcome the learning curve, senior-focused workshops are cropping up across the country -- taking place everywhere from local libraries, to universities to senior living facilities. But the best teachers? Teenagers, many of whom take it upon themselves to show their aging grandparents the ins and outs of Facebook, email and Instagram.
Pace University in New York is just one university offering a training program to help seniors learn to use technology. According to the L.A. Times, university students serve as instructors for the seven-week course, which has become so successful it's been expanded to multiple locations and has even become a model for similar programs across the country.
Seniors drive demand for tech-enabled senior living communities
Technology has become a primary trend among senior living facilities in response to this demand, with many now offering on-site computer labs and training classes led by local high school or college students, or the facility's activities staff.
Technology is becoming a way of life for modern seniors, even serving as a means to help manage health conditions and facilitating communication with a long-distance caregiver and other healthcare providers. Are your aging loved ones tapped into modern technology? Does your senior living facility have an on-site computer lab, offer Wi-Fi or facilitate training programs for residents?