Since the beginning of February, five residents aged between 77 and 98 years at Villa Maria Bundoora aged care residence have been taking part in weekly iPad training sessions, learning the 'ins and outs' of the tablet computer and its functions.
The iPads are borrowed from Yarra Plenty Regional Library (YPRL) as part of Seniors Connect, a Seniors Card Age Friendly Partners program run by the library in partnership with Telstra and the Victorian Government.
Villa Maria Bundoora leisure and lifestyle coordinator, Lydia Pisevski, says the program is introduced to give residents greater independence and choice through access to the digital world.
Ms Pisevski says accessing email and Skype to communicate with family members and friends, surfing the internet to research hobbies and interests, and participating in brain game apps such as Sodoku and Words with Friends (similar to Scrabble) had a positive impact on residents’ emotional and social wellbeing.
However, the process has not always been easy. While iPads have quickly become a necessity for many people of the younger generation since they were released in 2010, all but one of the seniors had never encountered one prior to the program.
“The residents have found it challenging, because the technology is so foreign to them. However they are really excited and interested in learning how the iPad can enhance their lives," Ms Pisevski says.
Resident, Joan O’Laughlin, says she has learnt many games on the iPad, keeping her entertained. “I’m really enjoying the process, my son thinks it’s marvellous.”
Fellow resident, Sister Patricia Satterthwaite, says: "In the beginning it was quite challenging; you need finger dexterity, as well as brain power.”
YPRL volunteer, Beverley Dewar, has been conducting training sessions for people aged over 60 years since Seniors Connect began in September 2014.
“It is very rewarding assisting an older person to ‘catch up’ with regards to technology, especially when they become more confident and less fearful during the iPad training sessions. Most people are curious and eager to learn and pleasantly surprised by how easy the tablet is to use, especially the touch screen technology and the simplicity of the tablet,” Ms Dewar says.
“The benefits for the participants can include increased communication with family far away, having the independence to select and borrow e-books from the YPRL website, being able to challenge themselves with an online game or simply providing a conversation topic with their grandchildren.”
Seniors Connect is a free service for any YPRL member aged over 60. For more information, call Rosanna Library on (03) 9459 6171.