Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why Mentally Capable Aging Parents Should Have A Computer

I'm sneaking in an extra post today--it's something I feel passionate about.
I was at a Woman's Club program yesterday. We had tea and desserts after the program, seated at tables for four. The attendees were, at least, in their 60's--many in their 70's and 80's; some older.  Two of the women at my table were in their 80's, one was 90--all widows, bright, alert, and with-it. Why would they need a computer? Why should they have a computer? One of the 80 something-year-olds said she used a computer when she worked, but never bought one after she retired.
The subject underway when I joined the table was Bin Laden's killing by the Navy Seals. One woman's brother was an Annapolis grad way back; her husband had been a veteran. Another woman's husband was in the Pacific in WWII.  I asked if they knew anything about benefits for Veteran's and their widows. Both women were clueless; their adult children should "check this out," they said, "but would they  know what to do" if I wrote down my blog "address" for them?
That triggered thinking about the necessity of aging parents having and using a computer. Even R, at 97, has said many times that if she'd known at age 80 that she was going to live this long, she would have gotten a computer and learned how to use it.
That said, I have friends in their 60's and 70's who drive a car without hesitation but don't use a computer.  Some have one in the house (their husband's old one?) and access e-mail--when they think about it.  For anything else, they ask their husband, adult children or grandchildren to do it. Some smugly say they'd rather talk to a person on the phone; and/or they prefer to write a letter...."not as impersonal" they think.
But isn't that unfair? Unfair to impose on family members, and unfair to themselves because they miss out on a lot.  Some of my high school classmates have died.  Most of us hear by email.  Yet a close h.s. friend who moved away "put her late husband's computer in a box" when she moved and proudly says she hasn't taken it out and doesn't plan to. Friends can update her about news on the phone, she says. They forget. She's misses out.
Studies confirm connections with others are an important factor in aging well.  Think connections, stimulation, exchanging information. A computer makes it possible.
This replaces my usual Saturday post. I want to spend Saturday finding the simplest technology for using the internet and e-mail.  When older people have and use that technology, an important ingredient is added to their lives--an ingredient that helps them age well.

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