Enhancing Engage Life® programs with iPad Technology
Posted on August 14, 2014 by Shannon Wilson
Technology has revolutionized the way we experience the world. Thanks to the internet, we enjoy instant access to an unlimited amount of information, and the rise of social networking has helped us to be more connected than ever before. Smartphones, laptops and tablets have all helped make our world larger and smaller at the same time. But how do we open up this world for older adults who may not be tech-savvy? How do we bridge the gap between those who live on the grid – and those who’ve never been part of it?
Atria’s Engage Life® staff often hears from residents who’d like to become more comfortable with technology but feel intimidated. So we looked for a way to make learning about tech more accessible and fun, without confusing jargon and techno-babble.
We found the answer in iPad apps.
By using iPads in conjunction with Apple TV, we created a program that helps residents learn about technology, while touching on our Engage Life program’s eight “Dimensions of Engagement” that make up a fulfilling life. We screened over 500 apps for ease of use and compatibility with Engage Life and began offering tutorials in a classroom setting.
The Apple TV mirrors what’s on each resident’s iPad screen, so our Engage Life Directors can more easily show them how to use the device. The program has already proven successful – participation is growing, residents are learning fast and some have even begun leading their own iPad programs!
At The Solana Willistown– a newly built Atria community – the iPad program was in place before residents moved in and has gotten great results from the start. For example, a resident whose lifelong dream has been to write memoirs is using the "Story Spark" app to author short stories and develop her writing skills.
Atria Buckhead residents have become so comfortable using the iPad that they’re no longer apprehensive about the technology. In fact, some have begun leading an iPad group independently, without the usual help of their Engage Life Director. Other residents have even started taking iPad classes hosted by family and/or local school students.
Residents participating in the iPad programs have also become more connected; they’re now able to Skype family members, visit and “like” the Atria Facebook page and challenge other communities across the country to "Words with Friends" matches.
Apps like "iTunes U" which offers hundreds of free courses from major colleges and universities help residents engage in lifelong learning (one of our eight dimensions of engagement). Apps like "Google Earth" give residents a chance to virtually visit and learn about other parts of the world.
One of the most touching stories about Google Earth involves a resident from Atria Elizabethtown. This resident was recently widowed, and she was participating in a program with Google Earth in which residents explored favorite locations across the globe. She wanted to find the spot where her husband proposed to her. She never thought she would return to that place, but thanks to Google Earth, she got the opportunity to see it again. It was an unforgettable moment; her eyes welled up with tears as memories of that special moment came back to her, and she was able to share those memories with us.
Civic engagement is another of our dimensions of engagement and gives residents opportunities to give back to the community. “Charity Miles” is an application in which private organizations will donate money to charities based on how far a person walks or runs.
The popularity of community iPad programs is growing each day. It has empowered many of our Engage Life Directors – some of whom did not consider themselves "tech savvy" – to become successful programmers. They've gained confidence not only in their own technology skills, but also in sharing these skills with our residents. We can't wait to see what they do next!
The big lesson we’ve learned is that, if you have an older adult in your life, encourage them to experiment with an iPad or tablet. You’ll be surprised at how much they can do and learn – and so will they.
iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.