I love my grandma dearly, but when it comes to technology, she is as lost as last years easter egg. I recently took the time to set up a Hulu account for her so she could watch her stories and continue social distancing. While I considered this an easy task, I soon realized if my grandma would have had to do this on her own, it would have been an extremely overwhelming task. She didn’t grow up learning and living with various social media platforms and technology like I did. Over the past couple weeks, she and I have continued working on learning to navigate different platforms so she feels less intimidated if I am not available to help. This situation made me think about if there are programs specifically there to help elderly people learn more about technology and allows them to keep connected with the people they love during the pandemic.
Along with learning new things, many seniors have had to adapt to new technologies in order to remain connected to family, friends, and even the outside world. This is a trend that continues to grow within the senior community as understanding and using technology remains an important skill to have. Platforms and companies like Apple, Zoom, Skype, and Amazon have seen an increase in senior users over the past year. Many seniors have expressed that they will continue to use these platforms to have things delivered and connect with others instead of going out.
While Covid has tested relationships over the past year, we are seeing new connections be made everyday. Since many seniors need help with technology use, they are turning to their children, grandchildren, and even neighbors for guidance and help. Youth and seniors are connecting on various online platforms. While many of the youth are helpful when it comes to technology questions, the main goal of encouraging these connections is to help fight isolation.
Being by oneself can be both mentally and physically difficult. Having someone to connect with virtually or now in person helps eliminate the feeling of loneliness. Programs like Mon Ami, Sharing Smiles, Caring Calls, Eldera, and so many others are
bringing new connections and smiles to both youth and elders every single day.
Mon Ami pairs college students with older adults for companionship and connection. They match younger adults with older people for social calls, via phone or video. During the pandemic they saw an increase in users.
Sharing Smiles helps people find pen pals, write joint stories, create poetry, share artwork, and so much more. Staff matches companions of different generations through screening to ensure the safety and privacy of their users.
Caring Calls engages volunteers who want to visit with an older adult by phone or video chat. Chats could be as short as 30 minutes or go for as long as one wishes.
Eldera pairs kids with older adults for virtual story times, help with schoolwork, or just a friendly chat. The goal of Eldera is to connect those who would like to bond over school work, life lessons, and stories.
Having options when it comes to making connections allows both young adults and
elderly people to find what works best for them and their needs.