Virtual Senior Center Brings World to Senior at Age 105

Adele Lerner, 105, stays connected to the world through her computer and the Virtual Senior Center. Adele Lerner, 105, stays connected to the world through her computer and the Virtual Senior Center.

In 1906, when Adele Lerner was born, the first radio broadcast of entertainment and music was the height of technology. Now at age 105, Lerner, a homebound senior in Queens, uses the latest interactive Internet technology to help her stay connected to family in California and to meet other homebound older adults in New York.

It’s all made possible by the Virtual Senior Center, supported by UJA-Federation. Selfhelp Community Services, a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency, developed the project with the city of New York and Microsoft. The Virtual Senior Center brings free computer, video, and Internet technology into the homes of older adults and provides staff to teach seniors how to use these tools to re-engage with the world. Here, Lerner shares how the Virtual Senior Center has opened new doors for her.

Why did you want to participate in the Virtual Senior Center?When I was 82, I graduated from Lehman College. I studied art. I used to paint. When I was 90, my family bought me a computer, but I had a hard time with it. Now I’m 105 years old. It’s hard for me to leave my apartment building, and I was lonely. I was more to myself. But with the Virtual Senior Center, it’s different.

How has the Virtual Senior Center helped you?I see New York’s Central Synagogue services on my computer. It’s wonderful. It’s beautiful to see other things. We have a little synagogue in my building, but Central has so many torahs. And I don’t have to travel to see it.

And I’ve made new friends with people in other parts of the city who use the Virtual Senior Center. We’ve talked about famous people and songs. I also have a camera on my computer, and my daughter in California has one on her computer. I can see her and be in touch with her every day.

I like anything about this world, and the computer helped me with that. I love to learn new things. I’m very happy that I’ve lived long enough to see what’s happening.

Have you helped other seniors with the Virtual Senior Center?They tell me I give them inspiration. If at my age I can do this, then they can too.

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