World Wide Access: Alzheimer’s and Continuing Care Communities

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grandmother with alzheimers in independent living“I go anywhere in the world I want. I visit museums and exhibits I never thought I’d see. I get all my news first,” says Carolyn Layton. Her world, she feels, is boundless.

Layton is not, however, a world leader or a powerful executive. She is an avid Web surfer. And, at 74, she is still a trendsetter who keeps abreast of technological advances.

A former housewife and mother of two, Layton has always been fascinated by technology, but her interests are myriad. Philanthropic activities have always taken precedence for Ms. Layton. She worked tirelessly for organizations ranging from the Mental Health Association to her neighborhood garden club in Wilmington, DE. Layton notes, “The busier you are the more people ask you to do things. One activity really leads to another.”

While arthritis and a degenerative spinal condition have limited Ms. Layton’s volunteer activities, they have not curtailed her active nature. Three years ago, Ms. Layton moved to Kensington Park Retirement Community,in Kensington, MD. Kensington Park provides exceptional care, including Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care.

Life at Kensington Park means “not having to prepare meals, wash dishes, or worry about cleaning all the time,” Layton says. In addition to the worry-free lifestyle, she enjoys the wealth of excellent activities and outings offered by the community. When she is not busy surfing the Web, Ms. Layton is attending discussion groups or going out to dinner with her fellow residents. She notes, “We have a very good activities director, and the staff is really open to our ideas.”

Ms. Layton’s only complaint is her inability to convince more of her fellow residents to log on. “They think they can’t do it. I say, ‘If I can, you can,'” she explains. Her efforts are not wasted. Kensington Park has a computer club with a growing group of residents.

Years ago at the University of Delaware, Layton took a basic computing class, where she learned computer terminology. At the time, not even her professor had a personal computer. Other than this introductory class, Layton is completely self-taught. When her son-in-law gave her an old computer, equipped only with QuickenR, she became a quick study. Since then, she has upgraded her computer several times and gotten an Internet connection.

Reading on-line newspapers, visiting museum Web sites, and viewing the world through Web cams, keeps Ms. Layton’s phone line perpetually busy (her connection is dial-up). “It’s all so amazingly convenient, fast, and fascinating. I really don’t know what I would do without it now,” she admits.

Even more important than the wealth of information is the ease with which she can communicate with her children and grandchildren via e-mail. In fact, e-mail is something she thinks every senior should have. She explains, “It would really help them stay constantly connected with their families, and that is so important.”

Convincing her fellow residents to get on-line has proven to be somewhat of a challenge-but one that Ms. Layton is surely up to. Even if they have no desire to venture into cyberspace, her new friends certainly appreciate her enthusiasm for this contemporary frontier.

Comfortable with the Internet and e-mail, Ms. Layton moved on to new technological adventures; she has been using a digital camera for four years and is currently experimenting with ways to edit pictures in order to change the lighting effects and other features.

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