In touch with technology

Wanda Schlafly runs an iPad class for seniors

Louis Bank’s daughter recently bought Bank his first iPad, and boy, is Bank glad she did.

The 98-year-old Shorewood man is enjoying songs by Benny Goodman, movies such as “Paint Your Wagon,” reading email updates from his grandchildren and showing off photos from the art show Bank recently hosted as a tribute to his late wife Eugenia Bank.

Bank learned all these skills at MiFun, a new iPad club for people 55 and older to help seniors learn to use their iPads. The Timbers of Shorewood is hosting the club two days a week.

Each club day MiFun’s owner and founder, Wanda Schlafly of Naperville, helps seniors upload photos and music, as well as select and install customized apps based on their interests, needs and abilities.

“This is one of the best things that’s happened to me in my lifetime,” said Bank. “We’ve got a wonderful exercise program at The Timbers, but if all you do is exercise your body, you’ll go brain dead. I haven’t mastered the device, but it’s already opened up worlds to me. I showed it to the grandfather of my nephew’s fiancée and now he wants an iPad, too.”

Schlafly, a retired team manager for Nestle, said her mother-in-law provided the inspiration to begin the club because she, while living in an assisted-living facility, enjoyed working puzzles. Not until Schlafly bought her first iPad did she realize the diverse range of mentally stimulating interests owning one could bring a senior.

Senior using touch screen on iPad

“It would not only keep their brains fresh, alive and functioning, it could connect them with family and friends,” Schlafly said. “I show them how to email and get on Facebook. They now have a fun activity to look forward to and something to discuss with others at dinner.”

At the initial meeting, Schlafly sets up the iPads, sparing seniors the hassle and frustration of figuring that part out. Schlafly then discusses their interests and goals and demonstrates how iPads can complement and meet them.

“An iPad is a great match for seniors,” Schlafly said. “A lot of them just don’t know it yet.”

Schlafly divides her MiFun clubs into two groups, based on skill level. Seniors are either “caterpillars” (little to no experience with technology) or “butterflies” (some computer experience). During meetings, Schlafly introduces new skills and reinforces those previously acquired.

“When I set up each person, I give them one on one time to make sure they understand the basics and are not being overwhelmed by the technology,” Schlafly said. “I get feedback at each visit and use that information to plan the next one.”

If a senior is unsure an iPad is for him, Schlafly will rent him one for a month. Once seniors are familiar with their iPads, Schlafly will suggest they also use those iPads to create a legacy for their families and then guide them through the process.

“They can record their life stories and create memoirs in different multimedia ways,” Schlafly said. “We can use videos, audio, pictures, written stories or convert audio into written stories.”

By Denise Baran-Unland
Joliet Herald News – February 28, 2013

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