SO OFTEN we hear of parents having to tell their kids to get off the computer and go outside and discover the real world.
But for many seniors, computers reopen the way to the world. That's how it was for Ron Ware, who has gone from student to teacher in the 10 years he's been associated with Long Jetty Senior Citizens Club Computer Group.
Forced to leave his trucking job due to a diagnosis of water on the brain, Ron at 60 was on the lookout for something to do with his days.
"I had started walking across the depot yard one day dragging my feet strangely and someone noticed and said 'You'd better send Ron to the doctor'," he said.
"That's how they discovered it, and of course I couldn't drive after that."
The cause of water on the brain is unknown and there is no cure, but Ron said he's now "the proud owner of a brain shunt", which drains the fluid from his brain into his stomach.
When he started going to classes, Ron needed assistance to walk and couldn't remember his bus number or where to get on and off without the drivers' help.
"I started with a beginners' computer class every week. At first I couldn't remember anything by the time I got home, but eventually it took and here we are," Ron said.
"That's how the club has helped me."
Ron is currently teaching a 10-week introduction to Windows 10 class, one of a host of computer- related choices at the club, which include Apple laptops, digital cameras, online-photo editing, Excel spreadsheets, and the new Bytes on Friday.
"It gives you a reason to get up out of bed every day," Ron said of the club.
Students in his class range from 50-92 years of age, but Ron was chuffed to hear 92-year-old Lenny say, "You can't take my computer away, otherwise I'd never get out of the house!"
"It's social and sociable," Ron said.
Bytes on Friday is an extension of that idea. While the club runs two classes a day, morning and afternoon, Bytes works more like an internet café, with like-minded people getting together to use the computers, have a cuppa and a chat from 12-2.30pm.
"Whatever your interest, the club is a place to go instead of being at home watching TV or reading alone," Ron said.
"Once you start interacting with people, you start to socialise and build friendships."
Ron said some people travelled a 50km round-trip just to attend the club.
"It is something special," Ron said. "And whatever they're doing, they're all using that wonderful brain they've got in a different way."
Membership of Long Jetty Senior Citizens Club costs just $5.50 and computer classes are $5 each.
Call 43325522 or go to www.longjettyseniorcitizens.com.au to see the myriad of classes on offer.
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