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Article updated: 12/4/2012 12:27 PM

Residents of Briarwood Healthcare Center at Friendship Village Go Digital

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Residents of Briarwood Healthcare Center at Friendship Village are enjoying their high-tech experiences with the iPad that was purchased late this summer. Emily Riehle, activities manager for Briarwood said that when she learned that they'd have access to an iPad, she and her team brainstormed about various uses from which the residents would benefit.

Riehle said that her own experience at home with an iPad has shown her the value of using it for communication, sensory stimulation, entertainment, hand-eye coordination and more. While still researching and identifying applications that are particularly beneficial to seniors, she said her team is presently using it for music, arts, games and current events. "There are nature apps that are calming and soothing too," she said. Families are being encouraged to set up Skype so that they can use it with their loved ones in Briarwood, to help them feel connected.

Involving seniors with technology such as the iPad is great on many levels and the benefits are well-documented. A recent article in US News and World Report stated that an iPad's hardware design makes it especially accessible for individuals who may be faced with declining hearing (you can turn up the volume), vision (you can increase the size of the text) and/or dexterity (touching and swiping is easier than using traditional computer keys). The abundance of available software applications magnifies the value of the iPad even more. The report quoted Dan Cohen, a social worker who founded Apps for All, who wrote, "The potential of iPads to benefit seniors cannot be understated. To my surprise (and delight!), the most beneficial aspect of apps is the creation of a new common ground between older persons, their children, and their grandchildren ... The key to success with the iPad is to identify apps of interest to seniors, not razzle-dazzling them with one's favorite apps. What is (or was) their favorite hobby, interest, sport? Zoom into Google Earth's aerial view, or MapQuest's street view of their childhood home and school and you'll bring a smile to their face."

Riehle said that in addition to using the iPad with residents, the staff is using it to research other uses and activities for seniors.

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