First-Time Computer Users Go Online To Keep Up With Family

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Peer-to Peer Computer Training at Westminster at Lake Ridge
When Dorothy Horne arrived at Westminster at Lake Ridge three years ago, she had never used a computer. So last year when her church started sending its newsletter solely via e-mail, the 85-year-old told herself she had “better join the rest of the world.”
Fortunately, the “rest of the world” included Virginia McPherson, a 15-year resident at the community who helped found CLIC—the Computer Learning and Information Center at Westminster at Lake Ridge. McPherson helps mentor residents like Horne who are new to computers and the Internet.
“I’m the teacher for beginners,” says McPherson who helped start the peer-to-peer computer training program. “I teach them how to turn on the computer, how to move the mouse and how to get an e-mail address.”
As of April 2012, 53 percent of American adults age 65 and older used the internet or email, according to a report by Pew Research Center. It was the first time that more than half of seniors were connected to the Internet.
McPherson’s initial tutorial with first-time computer users lasts about two hours.
“I get a great deal of pleasure out of teaching,” says McPherson. “It’s satisfying to hear people tell me ‘It works! I can do it.’”
She says most of her students are like Horne, people age 80 and above who have little or no experience with computers. Most residents in their 60s and 70s are already somewhat familiar with computers.
Horne now goes on the computer almost every day to check e-mail and play Solitaire and other computer games.
“Most people are like Dorothy, they want to learn to send e-mail to their family and share pictures,” says McPherson. “They want their family to know that Grandma does know how to use a computer.”
Westminster at Lake Ridge is a Continuing Care Retirement Community located next to the historic, riverside Town of Occoquan, Virginia just across the river from Fairfax County and 30 minutes from Washington, D.C. Residents enjoy wellness and lifelong learning opportunities, the choice of maintenance-free cottage or apartment living, housekeeping, dining, parking, transportation and on-site amenities all in a beautiful, wooded campus environment featuring two ponds, gardens and trails to the Occoquan River.


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