Lifespace Communities is committed to providing residents with resources to aid in successful aging. Across the organization, communities continue to test and incorporate new technology into programs and classes as many older adults are embracing it like never before.
The latest findings from The Pew Research Center show 42 percent of today’s seniors own a smartphone, up from just 18 percent five years ago. Nearly 70 percent now use the internet, up from just 12 percent at the turn of Y2K. Perhaps most telling, one-third of seniors are currently active on Facebook and social media platforms compared to only 2 percent a decade ago.
The growing trend is tied to Abbey Delray now offering residents the opportunity to hone their technology skills through the Senior Planet Program.
Developed by South Florida Institute on Aging (SoFIA), Senior Planet offers tech-based curriculum specifically designed for older adults. “Internet Basics,” the free 10-week course currently in session at the community, covers computer terms, keyboard usage, the internet, email, health research, YouTube, Google maps and Facebook. Students meet twice a week for 75-minute sessions that include a brief lecture, discussion, hands-on practice and review.
“We are the first community in Palm Beach County to benefit by entering the computer age through SoFIA,” said Linda Lanson, director of community life at Abbey Delray, who noted participants have been so receptive to the program that the community is already planning to offer a second course in early 2019. “We have a waiting list of future computer students and look forward to the continuation of the program.”
Resident Jo Williams is one of the course’s devotees. “It’s exciting to learn more about computers and their use — what you can do with them beyond what I’m doing now with my desktop,” she said.
Intellectual wellness programs like Senior Planet that involve expanding knowledge and improving skills through scholastic, technical or cultural exploration, are a key focus at Lifespace communities, in large part due to their potential health benefits. Research has shown such endeavors can improve cognitive function for older adults.
“We strive every day to provide our residents with new and innovative ways to not only age successfully but have fun,” said Lanson. “The wellness and morale of our community are our top priori.”