#1 For elderly, wired world holds terror — or delight04-06-2010, 11:50 AMFor elderly, wired world holds terror — or delight
By Sam Allis
Globe Staff / April 6, 2010
They grew up in a time when technology meant a wall telephone, a TV set with three channels, and a radio. Today they’re in the midst of a monumental transition. While some senior citizens are handling the rapid rise of the Internet age well — e-mailing, posting family photos on Facebook, paying bills online — for many it has prompted sheer terror.
People have always faced changes as they age — cable TV, voice mail, call waiting — but no generation has been thrown so much change, so fast, as today’s seniors. Those who’ve adjusted feel confident. Those who’ve resisted feel vulnerable, oblivious to how critical the computer will be to help them stay in touch with friends, order food, or buy prescription drugs as they become more housebound.
If there is a silver lining, it’s this: The next generation of seniors — the baby boomers — will not have to go through this wrenching change. They know how to reboot, IM, and tweet.
“The over-70 now will not look like the over-70 10 years from now,’’ said Lisa Berkman, a Harvard School of Public Health professor who is a specialist on aging. “The baby boomers have grown up in this environment.’’
But for now, there are a lot of people like Dorothy Larsen, an 86-year-old widow who lives in Framingham. “The future scares me,’’ she said. “I like the old days. I’m scared of computers.’’
So is West Roxbury resident Jane Kennedy, somewhere past 70. “I’m not on the Internet,’’ Kennedy said. “I don’t know that much about it. It seems to get more and more advanced. I don’t even know what they’re talking about: BlackBerries, blueberries.’’
What’s different for seniors today is the pace of change, said Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychology professor who studies aging.
But without a computer, you can’t use Netflix and you can’t communicate with friends, which is why Roberta Kwiatkowski, 77, took her third computer class last week at the Callahan Senior Center in Framingham.
Most of the things you can't do without a computer aren't very important things. Some of them are actually destructive to a life of the mind or to the soul.
04-08-2010, 03:39 PM
For some, I don't think it's as much puzzling as they just aren't interested.
I'm pushing hard on 65. I just finished building my 2nd computer. My father-in-law, 85, got online last year and my mother in law hates it. He's addicted to the Internet. She threatens to pull the plug every time my wife talks to her.
A next door neighbor, 68, has a computer and is online but she's a total klutz. She's constantly screwing up her computer and begging for help.
Personally, although I've been online since 1996 and owned a computer since 1991, have built 2 computers and do my own repairs, when I'm doing any typing of documents, I still prefer my old 1940 Royal typewriter. Getting harder to find ribbon these days, though.The poster formerly known as chuck58 on the old board.
04-08-2010, 04:48 PM
My career was computers - really big IBM mainframes. So computers don't intimidate me. I learned that some thing are needed, some things are simply useful, and some things are only toys!
Now, at 71, I build my own PCs - as I have for the past 15 or so years. I know what I need, and what I don't need. My wife has a cell phone (Jitterbug) but I refuse to get one. The one on the wall, when I'm home, is all I need. I'm not enthralled by every new gadget that comes along. I don't need Blackberries, iPods, and all that junk. That's for kids.
Four boxes keep us free: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.
THIS POST WILL BE MONITORED BY THE NSA
04-09-2010, 02:38 PM
There are a lot of people who mistake indifference for fear. I couldn't do my job today without various computer systems, telemetry, satellite links, etc. but I only check my personal email a couple of times a week, I've never owned a cell phone for personal use, and I don't belong to any social networking sites.
I'll bet that most retired people who don't get involved with computer just don't feel the need to fiddle with them.
04-09-2010, 03:08 PMStand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
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