While attending the LeadingAge Conference in Denver last month, I had the opportunity to converse with a wonderful gentleman from New Hampshire. Conrad is a well-spoken 80-year-old who was representing his CCRC board at this conference. He was a first-timer to LeadingAge as he had only been on his board for about two years. As we sat in the coffee lounge in the Denver Convention Center, he expressed his amazement at all the mobile technology that surrounded us. Sadly, we were about the only two people visiting as everyone else was engaged with their "double-chin-developing" handheld technology.
Conrad saw my collection of iTech and said, "I think I need to get up with the times." His flip phone wasn't cutting it, in his mind. We had a great conversation about connectivity and technology. I think he would have bought my iPad on the spot if I had offered.
The topic in our face-to-face chat room then gravitated toward design. Conrad found out I was an architect, which lead to a thought-provoking discussion on the design of retirement communities. Conrad and his wife had recently moved into the third phase of their retirement community in New Hampshire. He wondered why the architects and developers repeated all the dumb ideas from the first two phases and didn't replicate the good ones. "I don't think they did a good job of listening to the customer," Conrad quipped. "We may not have all the fancy technology, but we have lots of ideas on what works and what doesn't." I had a notion to fire up the iPad and sketch out some of his ideas, but my hour-long break was coming to an end. I was also missing my Apple-designed napkin background app.
We talked about family, marriage, growing old with grace and retirement. We had a wonderful conversation that was probably more meaningful than any session I could have attended. What impacted me most about my chat with Conrad was his desire to be connected and to be heard. He was not afraid of technology, but was excited to head home to purchase one of those gadgets. He was willing to step into my high-tech world. We can't forget to listen as we step into his high-touch world.