Pew Research underscores the tech isolation of real seniors

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There have been people at The Cloister who told me that “They don’t do computers.”

The majority of real seniors are not online.   The Pew technology survey is up to date – and it is a reflection that tech, training, and perception of benefit have a ways to go with real seniors – aged 75+. Fewer than half (47%) of the 75-79 age group and 37% of the 80+ are online.  And if they were, most do not have broadband access at home. And among the 65+, the song and dance about ease of use of smart phones and tablets is not resonating – 40% of seniors say that physical challenges make some activities difficult – and for those, even fewer go online. And for all the social pressure and media assumptions about online use, non-users do not believe they are at a real disadvantage.

The device divide is striking.  The needle has barely moved since the last Pew survey when it comes to tablets and smart phones. Smart phone device developers and retailers are not smart about selling them to seniors, even those with money and a college education.  Overall adoption among the 65+ for each is still only 18%, and even for those with $75,000 or more in income, only 42% have smart phones. Compare that to the general population with that income level – it is 76%. Ditto with tablets – the needle has not budged – 18% overall of the 65+ own a tablet – and of those with higher incomes, only 39% thought it was worth it.
Training matters – even for Facebook. Seniors worry about the difficulty of emulating what they see – and watching ads does not encourage them. See young people staring down at their phones, swiping to sign in, finding each other near restaurants, listening to smarmy machine-generated voices offering turn-by-turn directions. Arghh – 77% of the Pew senior responders — inclusive of those who already have smartphones and tablets, inclusive of the younger, that is 65-75, age group — believe they will need to assistance to become comfortable with their devices. And that includes (justifiable) worry about Facebook and minimal use of that non-sensical Twitter – even among Internet users – only 24% of those users feel comfortable about using these’‘social media’ tools without assistance.
What’s it mean that the needle hasn’t moved? The 2010 census reported that there are more people age 65+ than at any time in history – 40 million. Yet their technology usage of the latest and greatest is not growing year over year – why?  Seniors can certainly recognize themselves in advertising that targets them – see AARP publications for examples. But the cool devices and social media mavens do not show seniors, do not talk about them, or show any signs of interest in this population.  Is this ageist on the part of tech companies?  Certainly.  Are products still difficult to use in comparison to a mouse and computer? Apparently. Even with training offered by AARP and others, however, we need a better case for why using tablets, smart phones and social media really matters.  Useful to find information when away from the house, unbeatable for connecting in real time and staying current with families, tablets represent the most significant improvement in ease of use in the past 30 years.  Yet seniors aren’t buying into that theory – and according to this survey, they are not buying the devices. What’s your theory?
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Using the Official Cloister Website


Part of the official Cloister Website is available to the general public and potential purchasers of a Cloister home. Another part is password protected and available only to residents holding a personal password. The public website looks like this….(Click on the image below)

CloisterSite1

Once a resident obtains a password the private website looks like this…..
CloisterSite2
The above page announces yet another $1000 increase in the cost of purchasing a Fee Simple interest in a Cloister Condo home to $16,000, otherwise the menu bar on the left is identical for both public and owner access to the website. Unfortunately if a Cloister owner clicks on the “Financial” section in Documents there is an absence of useful Financial information in that section. A list of available documents is indicated below….

CloisterSite3
The only report posted in 2014 is a report called the February Summary Report looking like this…….

CloisterSite4
The above is incomplete and useless. Below is the listing of everything in the Financial section. Please notice that it does not include a 2014 Annual Budget or a useable monthly financial statement for any month in 2014.
CloisterSite5
Cloister residents deserve better treatment and communication than they are now receiving.
Visit the website and make your own decision….. http://www.cloisteratsthenry.com/

Reduce spending before increasing HOA Monthly fee.


When we moved to the Cloister 9 years ago the Cloister Home Owner Association had over $1 million in the HOA reserve account. Within several years this was spent down to a $96,000 balance.

During that time:

  • all the roofs were replaced
  • the streets were repaved
  • underground ground water drainage was installed
  • a number of large walls were rebuilt
  • A few homeowners decided to upgrade basements constructed of breeko brick walls and concrete floors to living room condition at considerable expense. Although these basements were the responsibility of the homeowner, the HOA paid to replace water-damaged finished basements at no cost to the individual homeowner.

DOW DJIA Snake Oil

A great deal of money was wasted on projects.

  • The Arms Chairman and HOA Board insisted that roof shingles be hand nailed instead of using air nailers resulting in twice the cost for each roof.
  • Underground drains are being clogged with leaves for years because the board failed to install rain gutter leaf guards where trees overhung the roofs.
  • A contractor failed to rebuild a major 12 foot wall according to specifications resulting in a wall with only 60% retaining strength. The HOA Board did not force the contractor to build according to the specifications or reduce the invoice amount but simply paid the invoice in full.
  • Many projects have not been put out for competitive bids, the board simply used a sole contractor and paid whatever the contractor decided to charge.

Now this recently elected HOA Board has decided to raise association fees without any effort to control and reduce costs. There is one item of expense that should be cut before any increase in HOA monthly fee.

DOW Fat BankerThe greatest single expense we pay every month is for Basic Comcast Cable for every Cloister unit. We even pay for cable service to units that have been vacant for years. Cancelling cable service would save enough that an increase in HOA Monthly fee would not be necessary and represents a saving of over $100,000 per year based on the 2013 HOA Budget.

Good management requires that all cost control efforts should be made before any increase in association fees.

 Can we residents ask any less then that our elected Board practice good management through cost control before increasing HOA monthly fees?

We homeowners should insist that the HOA Board cancel Comcast service and allow homeowners to negotiate for the cable, internet or phone services they desire. Times change and keeping a 30 year old agreement with Comcast is simply stupid and wasteful and prevents us from negotiating the best price for services when prices for have declined significantly for cable, phone and internet services over the last 30 years while we have paid increasing amounts over and over and over for decades. And we pay for unused cable services for some home units that have been vacant for years.

It is time for the HOA Board to become responsible and take smart financial decisions

HOA Fee.