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Seniors and the iPad

May 10, 2012 3:05:01 PM PDT
The technology revolution is not just for kids. It's for their parents and even their grandparents. In one local nursing home, residents are getting a taste of wider access to the world around them using a handful of iPads.

With hundreds of thousands of apps, it's opening the eyes and the minds of older people who might think that technology has passed them by.

Sandy Shulman, 72, is playing hangman in the sports category on the iPad. She lives at the Jewish Home Lifecare nursing home in the Bronx, where residents are becoming part of the iPad revolution. The staff started it off by showing around their personal iPads.

"The initial response was so positive and enthusiastic, and with the support of the administration, we bought our own iPads," Merri Buckstone, of Jewish Home Lifecare, said.

"It's accessible to so many things that you never knew existed," Lillian Haber, 87, said.

Such as Google Maps with the iPad hooked to a widescreen TV. A few taps and the iPad takes them back, right back home.

For Robert grant, it's all about his football.

"You just push the button so you can see the game, and it pops up," he said.

Right now, there are only 8 iPads for eight hundred residents.

The staff here at the nursing home tells me that at times, the residents can become passive and uninvolved. The iPad reanimates them.

They shop online and together plan a Mother's Day lunch.

We used Skype on the iPad to hear a touching story about a 93 year old, who got an iPad from her daughter.

"She grabbed me the other day and she said, 'Dr. Coppola, my family asked me opinions. Now they ask me questions. They respect me in a different way,'" Jean Coppola, PhD at Pace University, said.

And respect an active mind, no matter how old.

"If you still have the capacity to think, why shouldn't there be a learning process with it?" Haber said.

Why not indeed. The program at Jewish Home Lifecare is only eight months old. Despite how much each device can expand an older person's world, there's only one iPad for every one hundred seniors. But it's a start, as Merri Buckstone told me, to bringing fun into each person's life.

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For more information, contact Merri Buckstone at Jewish Home Lifecare, (718) 410-1900.

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