Seniors are embracing computer technology

Local seniors are wholeheartedly embracing the liberating power and reach of computers and the Internet through the Seniors' Centre's computer program. Here, Ruth Boettger (left, standing) provides a little over-the-shoulder guidance to Myrna Mundell as Kari McAuley, Tina Horstuis and Marion Jones type away at an exercise intended to teach them how to use a spell checker. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

Local seniors are wholeheartedly embracing the liberating power and reach of computers and the Internet through the Seniors’ Centre’s computer program.

“It’s really a question of helping seniors gain confidence,” says Seniors’ Centre Director Ruth Boettger, who frequently helps out in the computer lab.

“A lot of seniors are afraid of doing something wrong. They’re afraid they’ll break it. They just have to learn how to get past that.”

And one they do get past that fear, they tend to embrace the technology wholeheartedly. When wired to the Internet, computers extend the reach of local seniors enabling them to better stay in touch with loved ones far away, learn about different places and things, send and receive photos, organize trips, book airline flights, shop online and more.

In short, they’re refusing to sit back and get, well, old.

Take Marion Jones, for instance. This lively senior perked right up when asked why she bought a computer and enrolled in the Seniors’ Centre’s computer courses.

“My friends all have computers and they all said: ‘You’d better get with it, Jonesie.’ So I did!”

For Tina Horsthuis computers offer a way “to stay in touch with family and friends in the Old Country.”

Myrna Mundell echoed that, saying she wants “to be able to send e-mails.”

“I’ve played with computers enough to get frustrated, so I signed up for the computer program,” she said.

Learning how to use a computer can be a little frustrating but it’s worth the effort, says tutor Marg Kepler.

“Me? At first, I found it intimidating — very intimidating,” she said. “But the more I worked with it, the easier it became.”

The Centre is fortunate to have some excellent teaching materials that were locally designed.

“Tracy Spannier set up this manual for us and it works, really well,” Kepler said. “Older people take it and they feel more confident.”

Not everyone taking the course is a senior.

Kari McAuley is a forty-something woman who enrolled in the course to stay current.

“I just felt like I was being left behind,” she said. “You see people listening to Ipods, texting and doing Twitter and I couldn’t even turn on a computer. Three-year-old kids were better at that I was. But now I’m learning. This is a great program!”

Seniors interested in learning how computers can transform their lives can sign up for any of the programs at the Seniors’ Centre.

Seniors Centre Computer Courses

Basic Plus – Oct. 12-14 from 10 – 12 a.m.

Photo Editing – Oct. 19 & Oct 21 from 10 – 12 a.m.

Managing Email – Oct. 26 – 28 from 10 – 12 a.m.

Power Point – Nov. 16 – 18 from 10 – 12 a.m.