Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Seniors at Loretto are learning how to use tablets to stay connected with family this holiday season.
Thanks to a technology grant, seniors have been sharing iPads and touch screen computers to video-chat with their children, play games with their grandkids and more.
Take Norma Burke for example. Her children live out-of-state and before learning use the tablet, she only saw them once a year.
Burke says you can’t really compare a phone call to being able to see your son face-to-face, like you can with the FaceTime.
Now, she and her son have video-chat appointments scheduled every Thursday.
“I think the distance factor is just, you can’t get to Syracuse as often as you like and this is a great way for me to be in Syracuse once a week,” Burke’s son Tom said.
The tablets offer seniors accessibility to life outside the facility. That’s why Loretto staff is invested in helping seniors learn to use the technology.
“They had a hard time navigating with a mouse and double clicking and so the whole revolution of touch screen really helped us out because elders didn’t have as hard of a time touching something they wanted to happen,” explained Orion Roeder, PACE CNY Programming Specialist.
Loretto's PACE CNY in North Syracuse has two iPads. Each person has the option of signing up to use one of them for about a half an hour.
After learning on Loretto tablets, Karin Stromberg now uses her own. Her son is deployed in Kuwait. She was able to video-chat with him for the first time on Thanksgiving.
Loretto says seniors are learning to use the tablets in other ways, too. They say one woman used Google Earth to connect to a woman who was born in England to her childhood home. She thought she'd never see it again.
Another woman Skypes with her sister, who's a PACE participant.
Elders are also visiting places they've never been, like the Grand Canyon, play piano with the apps and keep up on the news.
It's technology the seniors once thought to be intimidating, but now embrace in order to stay connected to the ones they love and the world around them.
“To be able to see them right there in front of you, it boggles the mind, really. It's wonderful,” Burke told NewsChannel 9.
Loretto received the technology grant from the Anna Mahan Foundation. They have 10 iPads and four touch screen computers across their facilities.