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Lively Course Offers Technology Help For Older Adults

Jan 24, 2016 10:20PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
As any older person who has fumbled with an iPhone or iPad will tell you, it's hard keeping up with current technology. That's why a class that's offered through Manhattan Beach's older adults program is the perfect solution for many seniors: It provides the right mix of support, trouble-shooting, camaraderie, and fun.

The free classes are held at the Joslyn Community Center two times per month, for a two-hour session, with no sign-up or registration required - just show up with your device. There are also occasional special workshops, such as the Older Adults Technology Program Seminar to be held on January 26.

Volunteer instructor Dayle Eisenhauer, who formerly worked as both a teacher and in computer sales, approached the city about 18 months ago and offered to teach a technology class for seniors. While it started with only 2 or 3 people in each class, it now has 18 to 25 people per session - including "regulars" who never miss a class.

"One of the biggest things I try to do is end their fear of technology," said Eisenhauer. "We start right at the beginning - how to make a phone call, how to send an email." Older adults have flocked to the class because "they want to be relevant, they want to be current, and stay involved," she added.

For a group where the average age is 80, the class also tackles age-specific topics, such as shaky hands and too-small-to-read text. "I tell them to use a stylus - it can help with shaky hands. We also look at the orientation of the device and how to make letters and text larger. And we talk about Siri a lot - how to make her do the work for you," said Eisenhauer.

Although there's something different offered at every class, Eisenhauer noted, there's always time to go back to the basics: "The hardest thing for seniors is that they forget. We review a lot of things - I'm happy to do it."

Being involved and active in technology can help with some of the isolation that comes with being an older adult, added Eisenhauer. Seniors who need a ride can use the city's Dial-a-Ride service to get to the class for just 25 cents. And those seniors who attend the class have formed their own camaraderie - some come to the class earlier to meet up and compare notes, or connect with each other to play Words with Friends.

"They have fun," said Eisenhauer. "We actually had to move our class to a different room because we were so loud. It's a rambunctious group."

For any senior who is still nervous about technology, Eisenhauer reminds them that phone and computer technologies have improved in the last ten years so that they are now easier and more fun to use. Her advice is, "Come to the class. Don't be afraid. Press some buttons. You're not going to break it."

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