Six months ago, 68-year-old Cindy Sanders bought a computer to learn how to send emails and zoom chat with her great-grandchildren.

It is still in the box and is unopened.

“I didn’t know how to set it up or get help,” said Sanders, who lives in Philadelphia and has been very careful during the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of older people, like Sanders, want to evade the virus and are renewed motivated to go online and join digital products after being trapped inside for over a year. It is attached. However, many people need help and don’t know where to get it.

Recently Survey from AARP, Held in September and October, highlights the challenges. During the pandemic, we found that older people helped buy technology, but more than half (54%) said they needed a better understanding of the devices they acquired. Nearly four in ten (37%) admitted that they were not confident in using these technologies.

One of them is Sanders, a retired hospital operating room clerk. “The computer scared me, but this pandemic realized that I had to make a change and overcome it,” she told me.

With the help of her daughter, Sanders plans to turn on her new computer and refer to the material from to understand how to use it. Online generation.. Founded in 1999, the Philadelphia organization specializes in teaching seniors about digital devices and navigating the Internet. Sanders recently discovered it through a local publication for the elderly.

Prior to the pandemic, Generations on Line offered free face-to-face training sessions at seniors centers, public housing estates, libraries and retirement centers. When these programs shut down, an online curriculum for smartphones and tablets was created (www.generationsonline.org/apps) And new tutorials on zoom and telemedicine, and a “family coaching kit” to help older people with technology. It’s all free and available to people all over the country.

Demand for Generations Online services increased tenfold during the pandemic, as many older people were dangerously isolated and separated from the services they needed.

Those who have a digital device and know how to use it can connect with family and friends, shop for groceries, order prescriptions, take classes, attend telemedicine sessions, book corona vaccines, and more. All kinds of activities can be done online. Those who did not were often at a loss and could have serious consequences.

Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, an advocacy group for expanding broadband access, said: “But that’s what happened during the pandemic, especially when it comes to vaccines.”

Other organizations that specialize in digital literacy for the elderly are similarly interested. Cyber ​​senior, The company, which pairs seniors with high school and college students as technology mentors, has trained more than 10,000 seniors since April 2020. This is three times the average over the last few years. (The service is free and is funded by grants and partnerships with government agencies and nonprofits, as is the case with some of the organizations described here.)

Elderly people who are new to digital devices can call 1-844-217-3057 for guidance over the phone until they are comfortable with their online training. Brenda Rusnack, Managing Director of Cyber ​​Senior, said: One-on-one coaching is also available.

78-year-old Lyla Panichas, who lives in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, got her iPad from Rhode Island three months ago. digiAGE Program — One of many local technology programs for seniors that began during the pandemic. She is assisted by the University of Rhode Island Cyber ​​Senior Program. By the end of this year, the program will provide digital training to 200 digiAGE participants in the community that suffered the most damage from covid-19.

“The first time my tutor called me, that is, the kids rattle things very quickly. I said, wait a minute. Here’s a little grandmother. I’ll follow you. Let me do that, “Panichas said. “I couldn’t keep up and cried.”

But Panichas stuck, and when the tutor called again the next week, she “became able to figure things out.” She currently plays games online, streams movies, and has a gathering of Zoom with her son in Arizona and her sister in Virginia. “It raised my fear of isolation a bit,” she told me.

OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) plans to significantly expand the scope of its digital literacy program after recently partnering with AARP. Operates a national hotline 1-920-666-1959 for people seeking technical support and operates six cities (New York, Denver, Rockville, Maryland, Plattsburgh, New York, San Antonio, Texas, and Palo Alto, California. ). When the pandemic closed most of the country, all face-to-face lessons were transformed into digital programming.

Germaine St, former mayor of Laramie, Wyoming. After registering with Senior Planet, Colorado during a pandemic, John (86) found an online community of seniors and made dear friends. “I have a great support system here in Laramie, but I was very cautious about going out because I belonged to a group over 80,” she told me. “I don’t know what would have happened without these activities.”

Elderly people across the country can take virtual classes on Senior Planet for free. (Weekly schedule is available at https://seniorplanet.org/get-involved/online/.. Through the AARP partnership, OATS offers another set of popular classes at AARP’s Virtual Community Center. Currently, tens of thousands of elderly people are participating.

Aging connection (((https://agingconnected.org/), Another new OATS initiative focuses on bringing one million older people online by the end of 2022.

An immediate priority is to educate seniors about the government’s new $ 32 billion emergency broadband benefits for low-income earners, funded by the Coronavirus Relief Package and made available last month. This short-term program offers a $ 50 monthly discount on high-speed Internet services and a one-time discount of up to $ 100 for computer or tablet purchases. But the benefits are not automatic.Man Must be applied To get the money.

Thomas Cumber, Executive Director of OATS, said: According to the report, nearly 22 million seniors do not have access to high-speed Internet services, primarily because these services are not affordable or available. January report Co-sponsored by OATS and its Aging Connected partner, the Humana Foundation.

Other new ventures are also helping older people with technology. Candoo Tech Launched in February 2019, we are working with senior citizens in 32 states, as well as organizations such as libraries, senior citizen centers and retirement centers.

Candoo Tech can help you with technical training from the “Technical Concierge” by phone or virtually as needed, technical advice to buy, and ready-to-use devices for a variety of rates.

Liz Hamburg, President and Chief Executive Officer of Candoo Tech, said:

GetSetUpThe model relies on older people to teach their peers skills in small, interactive classes. Founder and CEO Neil Dousa focuses on technology training, noting that “fear of technology” is preventing older people from exploring the “world of online experiences.” It started in February 2020.

For seniors who have never used a digital device, a retired teacher will be the technical counselor over the phone. “Someone can call [1-888-559-1614] We’ll download the app (usually Zoom) and walk you through the entire process of taking a class, “says Dsouza. GetSetUp offers about 80 hours of virtual technology instruction each week.

For more information on technical training for seniors in your area, please contact your local library, senior center, aging department, or local agency for aging. Each state also has a National Assistive Technology Training Center for the elderly and people with disabilities. At these centers, people can rent devices and provide advice on financial assistance. During the pandemic, some people started collecting and distributing used smartphones, tablets and computers.

For programs in your area, please visit the following URL: https://www.at3center.net/..

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