Tablet the perfect remedy for tech-savvy Gold Coast couple

Feros Care's Let's Get Technical program helps seniors connect digitally

Technology
CONNECTED: Gold Coast couple Edith and Erich Neumann now use their tablet to stay in touch with friends and family and Google Home to help around the house.

CONNECTED: Gold Coast couple Edith and Erich Neumann now use their tablet to stay in touch with friends and family and Google Home to help around the house.

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Tech program helps take the fear out of digital devices for seniors at home.

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FOR most teenagers, having access to technology and all the latest gadgets is all about the Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO.

But for senior Gold Coast couple Erich and Edith Neumann their digital tablet just brought on the Fear of Doing Something Wrong.

The pair, who have been married for 70 years, owned a tablet but didn't know what to do with it. That is, until they signed up to a 10-week tech course for seniors.

"I was scared of it (the tablet), but now I think it's scared of me," Mr Neumann., 88, said.

His 90-year-old wife Edith agreed, saying before they started the program she didn't even want to turn it on. "I was worried I might break it," she said.

Now the couple is part of a part of a growing group of tech-savvy seniors using the latest devices and software to keep in touch with loved ones and remain independent in their own home.

They recently enrolled in the new Let's Get Technical program run by aged and community care provider Feros Care in NSW and Queensland, aimed at empowering the elderly to use technology as a tool to improve their health and lifestyle.

Since completing the course, they have mastered Skype calls and are even using Google Home to control their appliances and search for information.

"We love using Skype to make calls to family, and using Feros Care's Virtual Social's Centre, to do activities like exercise classes and health literacy programs," said Mr Neumann.

"It helps us feel more connected and able to interact with our friends and family, even if we can't always see them in person."

Mrs Neumann said she has enjoyed having an extra helping hand around the house, with a selection of Google Home devices programmed to assist with everyday tasks.

"Now I'm using Google Home to help me control light switches and appliances, play my favourite music and find new recipes to try.

"I have limited mobility so being able to use voice commands for simple tasks around the home has made life much easier, and has given us the confidence in our ability to continue to live independently.

"It's amazing technology - all you have to do is press a few buttons or ask a question and Google listens to what you need."

And Mr Neumann has found he has another 'person' to talk to around the house.

"Google listens to me better than Edith does," he said.

Let's Get Technical support officer, Russ Hargreaves, said about 100 seniors were currently benefitting from the program, which also helps to improve personal and medical care.

"We started this program about five months ago and we've already had dozens of seniors sign up. We provide weekly, in-home lessons to teach them how to use various devices like tablets and Google Home, and it's really incredible to see how quickly they catch on," he said.

Feros Care Technical Support Officer Russ Hargreaves teaching Edith Neumann to use technology.

Feros Care Technical Support Officer Russ Hargreaves teaching Edith Neumann to use technology.

"Part of the Let's Get Technical program is undertaking a thorough assessment of the individual's needs, and considering all of the different types of virtual assistance that may be available to help them.

"For example, Edith has limited mobility so we've organised light strips along the floors, cameras, electronic door locks and a robotic vacuum cleaner to make everyday life a bit easier to navigate.

"We've also arranged a weekly telehealth conference with a Feros Care nurse to ensure she is on track with her medications and check ups, and we use smart devices to keep a record of her blood pressure, sugars and other important information.

"To the younger generations, tablets and Google Home are primarily there for entertainment, but for these seniors, they are life-changing devices that give them the opportunity to have greater control over everything from their social lives to their medical appointments."

"It's a whole new world for those who have not grown up with technology, and it can be daunting at first, but no one is ever too old to learn new skills."

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