Never too old for technology

August 01, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT
  • Ken Krill is displayed on a favorite technological gadget, his iPhone. Krill uses it to read books, newspapers, listens to NPR, creates his own radio station on Pandora and tracks his wife's airline travel.
By Kelly Hahn Johnson/Staff Photographer,

There's no expiration date when it comes to learning the latest technology.

Take Seine Taylor, who recently celebrated her 68th birthday.

A former legal secretary, she remembers when it was pretty sophisticated to own an IBM electric typewriter.

Now, the Hagerstown woman owns an Apple iPad. She's even sprung for a smart phone and mobile applications.

And on her first day of retirement three years ago, Taylor bought a Wii so she and her husband could challenge their grandchildren.

From computers to e-readers, modern gadgets aren't just for the young. They're also for the young at heart.

According to AARP, bridging the technology gap increasingly is a matter of practicality.

A recent poll by the senior organization noted that more older adults are embracing technology in order to make their lives easier.

People are using everything from navigational devices to voice-activated remote controls.

But there are side benefits to the convenience.


For instance, studies have shown that use of computers can be a healthy endeavor. Spending time on the Internet might reduce the risk of developing depression by 20 percent among senior citizens, according to a report by the Phoenix Center, a national nonprofit that studies public policy issues related to high-tech industries.

Among the report's findings, Internet access and use by seniors enables them to maintain relationships with family and friends at a time when travel and mobility become more difficult.

Taylor said she and her husband use their computers to stay in touch with friends and family who live across the country and to send and to receive photos. She also does online banking.

"I can't imagine not having a computer," she said.

When Ken Krell and his wife built their new home, the 79-year-old Hagerstown man said he made sure his residence was heavily wired.

"I wanted a wireless network so I could take my laptop anywhere, including outside," he said.

Krell, who, along with his wife, is retired from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said he's never been afraid of learning something new and calls himself a "gee whizz, why not kind of guy."

"Modern technology doesn't interfere too much with day-to-day life," he said. "It's more of a help than a distraction."

Krell said he owned one of the first portable computers that evolved into a laptop. It weighed 33 pounds.

Following retirement, he was asked to construct the website for The Food and Drug Administration Alumni Association. He also designed the web site for his local synagogue.

In addition to computers, Krell said he owns an iPhone and his wife carries a Blackberry.

Krell said he can't understand some people's hesitation when it comes to learning about new technology.

"If you can use a telephone, you can use a cell phone," he said.

"For me, it's the fact that the Internet is available in my pocket," he added. "I've downloaded my favorite books, so when I'm in a doctor's office or wherever else I'm waiting, I can pick up where I left off. I can find out what's on TV, I can record a program or series from my iPhone, I can even do my banking, although I usually access my account on my laptop."

"It does make my life simpler," he said. "As much as I use e-mail, I use my iPhone to check the weather, pull up a calendar and get news from around the world."

Krell said he also loves the apps that are available, including Pandora, which allows him to stream music on his iPhone.

"I can listen to Crosby, Stills and Nash or any music related to that period," he said. "It's wonderful."

When his wife recently traveled to Oxford, England, Krell said he was able to tell when her flight departed, when it landed and what the weather was across the pond.

"If you go back to the 1950s or 1960s, some of these devices didn't necessarily make a big difference in people's lives," Krell said. "It was a different pace. Today, it makes sense."

Krell said he enjoys staying up to date on the latest gadgets on the market and is "the guy who's always looking for something new."

"I used to watch the sun set," he joked. "Now, I'm on the Internet."

But there are some aspects of the technology revolution he isn't particularly drawn to.

"I have no interest in Facebook or Twittering," he said.

What seniors are plugged into

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