Education & Technology
One of the most frequently asked technology questions by Boomers and older adults is not that technical.
“They want to know ‘If I unfriend someone (on Facebook) would they know?’” says Tak Sato, founder of the Cleveland-based nonprofit Center for Aging in the Digital World, which offers technology instruction to those age 60 and over. “I always chuckle when I get asked that in class.”
While folks in their 50s and 60s represent one of the largest groups to embrace the digital world, Sato says that they need to “relearn” how to nurture online friendships.
“Social media mimics real life. The difference is that in real life, you curate your relationships one person at a time. With social media, you can curate (many) at the snap of your fingers.”
Millennials, who don’t recall a time without cellphones and instant communication, just accept technology as normal, says Sato, but even people in their 40s often must learn to shift their frame of reference to virtual.
“Until a few years ago, it was OK not to embrace the digital world. Now it is essential to use digital,” Sato says, noting that some companies and organizations only accept communication through email or a website.
For example, people often work into their 60s and 70s. To receive unemployment benefits through Cuyahoga County, everyone must register their work search information. For the first two weeks, the process can be done via phone, but after that, job seekers must report the information on the county website.
By the numbers
More than three-quarters of adults 50 and older own some type of computer, and nearly nine in 10 have a mobile device. Almost three out of four adults in their 50s own a smartphone, and over half have a tablet, according to a November 2016 report by G....
Jimmy Malone is a name dropper for all the right reasons.
He remembers the names of the nearly 200 students he’s helped put through college, along with the mentors and professionals he’s introduced to many of them.
Malone makes a good living talking on the radio, but it’s the conversations he has outside the station that are life-changing. Just ask Destiny Kaznoch, Briana Miller and James Maher. All three will be graduating next spring from college, a path made available largely through Malone’s scholarships and his enthusiastic encouragement.
For these students, the money is important, but they’ll tell you Malone is the key to their success. He’s a welcome and vital part of the package.
RADIO PERSONALITY, MENTOR
Jimmy Malone is part of the top-rated Cleveland morning radio team Nolan, Malone and Kullik at Majic 105.7. From 5:30 to 10 each morning, Malone has free-ranging exchanges with co-hosts Mark Nolan and Chip Kullik, and show producer Tracey Carroll about local and national events, goofy people (his Knuckleheads in the News is a listener favorite), politics and favorite diners, to name a few.
For someone who values education, Malone’s own was completed in fits and starts. Raised in the Glenville area of Cleveland, he attended Cleveland State University, Morehouse College and eventually Ohio University, where he graduated with a degree in interpersonal communications. He wanted to be a lawyer but quickly found other interests that didn’t involve law school.
Malone, 62, put those communication skills to use in clubs throughout the region as a standup comic. He caught the attention of popular Cleveland radio personality John Lanigan, who in 1985 asked him to do the Knuckleheads in the News skit for his WMJI show. Listeners loved it. He joined the station full time six years later.
Co-hosting a top radio show put Malone in contact with many of Northeast Ohio’s civic, sports and business leaders....
Lifelong learning is one of the keys to active aging, defined as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.” That’s according to the World Health Organization, which encourages older adults to stay active by participating in social, cultural, economic, spiritual and civic affairs in order to extend healthy life expectancies. In short: learn more to live better (and longer).
Health refers to physical, mental and social well-being. Activity is not just physical; it’s also cognitive. According to Psychology Today, gerontological research shows that enriched learning environments (formal academics or self-directed learning) help to reduce cognitive and emotional decline (including depression and poor self-image) due to aging. Conversely, reduced mental stimulation might lead to a decrease in cognitive functioning as people age.
There’s no need to leave learning behind once you graduate high school or college. When you stop learning, studies show you’re inviting mental stagnation and reduce the potential for exploration and growth. The good news? In Northeast Ohio, lifelong learning is an accessible alternative. Regardless of age, you don’t need to travel far to keep your mind and body engaged by pursuing knowledge and experience.
At Cuyahoga Community College’s Encore Senior Adult Program, manager Suzanne Ortiz says classes double as social gatherings. “It’s a great opportunity for friends to get together on a Friday afternoon on our eastern or western campus and learn about any topic they can think of: history, art, the sciences, exercise. …It’s an opportunity for them to get together and do what they’ve always wanted to do.”
CLASS WITH BENEFITS
Whether it’s learning to dance, speak a foreign language, gain computer skills, improve your golf swing or master a craft, encore education delivers real benefits for older adults by:
• keeping the mind sharp
• improving memory
• increasing self-confidence
• offering an inexpensive (or free) way to try something new
• gaining independence by learning to “do it yourself”
• offering a sense of accomplishment
• meeting like-minded people
• building upon existing skills
• learning a marketable skill or trade
Adult students are the nation’s fastest growing educational demographic, according to the U.S....
If your image of a senior center conjures up a group of “old people” snoozing around the Bingo table, just take a peek at your local facility. You may be pleasantly surprised.
EXPLORE PROGRAMS BEYOND A CENTER
Laurie Schaefer chuckles a bit at the stereotype. “They think they’re too young. But once I can get them to walk through the door, they change their minds,” says the Rocky River Senior Center program coordinator.
Cards and crafts are still staples of senior centers, but look around. There’s yoga, circuit training, speed dating, theater groups, distance learning and maybe even Elvis himself.
“We’ve expanded our fitness program to include more adventure and more intensity,” says Jill Frankel, director of the Solon Senior Center, who refers to participants there as “senagers” — combining senior and teenager to reflect the energy and interest of clients.
The center’s programming such as Pickleball, barre and circuit training define a more active lifestyle. “We were one of the first with (Nintendo) Wii. We try to define new opportunities and offer them,” she adds.
A NEW STYLE CENTER
One of the first things a visitor notices about the Westlake Community Services Center is the absence of the word “senior” on its sign. Activities director Jennifer Yoo explains that senior services are rolled into other community programs.
As ladies in their finest hats attend a program about the fashions of “Downton Abbey,” she and co-director Jodi Rodriguez review a plethora of offerings that include a speed dating-styled mixer. “We were shocked at the response,” Yoo says. They plan to add more sessions because the first was so popular.
Frankel and her staff also have discussed rebranding and removing the “senior” word. “But we want people to know this is where they go to remain independent in the community.”
That independence is encouraged at senior centers such as Rocky River’s....
In a downtown warehouse, thousands of gently used children’s books are sorted and boxed by an army of volunteers. Their goal? To get 100,000 free books distributed monthly to children in need. In their first three months, they’ve passed out 61,718 books.
The Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is a nonprofit group established by Judy Immerman Payne and Judi Kovach. Since opening in February, they’ve distributed more than 88,000 free, gently used, quality children’s books to Clevelanders. Among the program’s goals: Help teach at-risk new parents the importance of reading to their babies; teach family childcare providers to read with the children in their care; and establish creative youth programming.
In addition, 1,700 Cleveland public school students received books from AARP Experience Corps tutors, which is locally sponsored by Greater Cleveland Volunteers. The program recruits people 50 and older to tutor students.
As part of the program through a partnership with Discover Books, the nation’s second-largest online bookseller, the Kids’ Book Bank is repurposing hundreds of thousands of books that would otherwise end up in a recycling center.
The more books volunteers sort, the more that will get into the hands of kids in need. Interested in volunteering? Visit kidsbookbank.org or call Judy Immerman Payne at 216-417-1803....
Imagine taking your family to learn about the world-renown Asian collections at The Cleveland Museum of Art. Or having them chat with a curator at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History to discuss trends in the area’s birding community? How about watching a live concert with students from The Cleveland Institute of Music?
Seeing, learning and listening — it happens in real-time each week through University Circle’s cultural offerings throughout Northeast Ohio.
University Circle Inc., (UCI) a development, service and advocacy organization, provides community education for students of all ages by creating unique learning opportunities through online connections to the institutions in Cleveland’s rich and vibrant cultural neighborhood.
The interactive programming allows lively dialogue with experts, educators and students up close and personal from the comfort of local community centers, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
PROGRAMS FOR ADULTS
University Circle Inc. works closely with community sites to customize programs. Active adults who attend programs at senior community centers typically participate in a monthly videoconference, then go on a guided, follow-up field trip to an exhibit, concert or play.
Videoconferencing technology has been around for 20 years, but as equipment becomes more affordable, streamlined and easier to use, retirement communities have embraced the technology.
In 2001, UCI began developing a sophisticated program for schools and then began to adapt these programs for adult audiences in 2011. After a successful pilot program with Laurel Lake in Hudson, UCI offered the Senior Connections program regionally.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Cleveland Institute of Music have videoconferencing studios, and the Western Reserve Historical Society has a shared studio. Hundreds of programs are offered with topics as varied as history, current events, nature and cultural trends. The programs might include a single museum, or some events connect several sites simultaneously....