Nusing home staff are teaching residents like Jack Lang how to use tablet computers.
Nusing home staff are teaching residents like Jack Lang how to use tablet computers. Alex Nolan

Seniors getting up to date with technology

SENIORS are often overlooked when it comes to learning about the newest advances in technology.

However, with society changing so rapidly in the 21st century, it almost seems necessary to ensure everyone is kept up to date.

Vital services are moving away from their traditional sources towards a technology-driven market on tablets, computers and smart phones.

Banking, maps, entertainment and news are just some of the services we've taken for granted moving towards smart technology.

Researchers Dr Lisa McDonald and Catherine Arden from the University of Southern Queensland have recognised this and developed a digital learning and research program to connect older Australians with modern technology.

The project is being led by Granite Net in Stanthorpe, a not-for-profit community program helping to connect families to computers and the internet at affordable prices.

The beneficiaries of the program are the residents at Stanthorpe Nursing Home on Wallangarra Rd, who are being taught how to utilise tablet computers for a range of activities.

Granite Net worker of five years Vicki Brown says Granite Net trained nursing home staff to teach residents how to play games, write notes and even search where they grew up with Google Earth.

"Learning the use of these technologies gives them (the residents) a whole new dimension on life," she said.

"So much is done online now. Soon we'll probably be making medical appointments through online apps, so it's important that older people know how to do this.

"The main thing to recognise is that learning is a life-long journey and age doesn't matter."

Director of Nursing at the Stanthorpe Nursing Home, Marinna Klemm, said the two tablets loaned to the residents would provide greater understanding of learning in aged care.

"It is also expected to provide insight into the role of digital technologies and lifelong learning of older people who live in rural aged care," she said.

"This will be an introduction for many to digital technology, and for others, a different use."

Marinna envisages the residents will use the technology to read books, play games, write letters, research articles of interest and email or Skype loved ones. Residents have been trying to beat each other's scores in hand-eye co-ordination games like Fruit Ninja and squashing virtual bugs crawling across the screen.

One resident has started writing his memoirs through the notes app and has been looking at the house he grew up in via Google Maps.

"We are expecting that there will be interest amongst the residents to challenge each other in games whilst at the same time gaining technological skills, increasing social interaction, diversional interest, improving co-ordination and exercising hands and fingers for fine movement," Marinna said.

"We envision the residents will benefit from the project and improve their quality of life in the aged care environment."

Stanthorpe Border Post

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