Technology complicates aging process

January 28, 1998

Technology complicates aging process


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Living in a world of diversity and fast-changing technology is difficult enough, but adapting to it and the aging process at the same time requires some flexibility.

The question of how people can adjust as they age in such a fast-paced world was the topic Tuesday night in the third of a series of panel discussions being held this year at the Penn State Mont Alto Campus.

The last topic in the series, humor, will be discussed March 19, said Alice Royer, instructor of English and women's studies. Royer coordinates the Campus Theme Program and Adult Enrichment Center.


Tuesday's discussion in-volved a panel of four experts interacting with an audience of more than 60 students and guests.

The panel included Doug McCullough, 58, assistant professor of sports science and recreation, who spoke on fitness for the aging; Linda Monn, 41, an adult student, mother and campus staff assistant, whose topic was nontraditional students in the classroom and workplace; Forest Myers, 50, a Shippensburg, Pa., lawyer, who spoke on elder law; and Jo Searles, 71, a retired English professor from Penn State Altoona, Pa., who discussed women's issues of aging and spirituality.

Lew Jillings, director of academic affairs at Mont Alto, was the moderator.

McCullough said technology has changed the way people keep fit, from using smelly gymnasiums and boxing rings of the 1930s and '40s to modern YMCAs, spas and fitness centers with high-tech exercise equipment.

What hasn't changed is the amount of time required to get and stay fit, McCullough said.

Searles said people today "skitter from thing to thing," doing two things at once, using cell phones, having televisions in their bathrooms and living with lights flashing all around them.

"People are fleeing stillness like it was some curse," she said.

Myers said some older people are not comfortable with technology.

They are used to writing checks, but checks are on the way out and are being replaced by automatic teller machine cards and debit cards.

Many young people don't know how to write checks, he said.

Monn, who graduated from high school in 1974, said she went to Hagerstown Business College, "where I learned things that I don't use anymore."

She said she started working with a typewriter, moved to a word processor, then to a computer. 

"Things that we learned in the 1970s are now irrelevant," Jillings said.

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