Luring seniors with the Web
- By Nicholas Morehead
- Jun 07, 2001
To keep older residents from moving from Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley is
equipping a new batch of senior centers with computers, Internet access
The 10 new state-of-the-art Senior Satellite centers are a major part
of Daley's Neighborhoods Alive! With Seniors initiative launched last year.
Recommendations in the initiative also call for some of the expected
$400 million in funding to go toward an aggressive communications outreach
program that will put information about federal, state and local benefits
at the fingertips of seniors by way of newsletters, television and the Internet.
Anna Willis, commissioner for the Chicago Department on Aging (www.ci.chi.il.us/Aging),
said that such a program should help combat the notion that seniors have
been shy to take to new technologies. "We've been conducting computer classes
at our senior center for six years now, and our seniors are usually antsy
to get in there," she said. "They want to learn how to e-mail and surf right
Willis said part of the new initiative will involve classes taught by
graduate students and instructors from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
"Most associations and organizations have been behind the curve on the importance
of this issue of not leaving any sector of society behind," said Jim Emerman,
senior vice president at the American Society on Aging. "Everyone sees something
like [the Telecommunications Act of 1996] as being great because it works
to wire libraries and schools, and that's great. But it virtually ignores
areas that are senior-oriented."
One of the new satellite centers will be located at the home office
of the Chicago-based Senior Lifestyle Corp. (www.senr.com),
a national provider of residential services and care to seniors. "It's really
in the next five to 10 years, as the baby boomers age, that we're going
to see a real senior-oriented move toward such technology," said Bonnie
Kaplan, director of marketing and communications for the SLC.