As life has increasingly moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic, an older generation that grew up in a different era is facing a new class battle – a digital divide. People are seeking human interaction and communication through the web or their devices to stave off loneliness and to stay positive.
Often unfamiliar or uncomfortable with apps, gadgets and the internet, some older Australians are struggling to keep up with friends and family. To bridge that digital gap, families are finding new technology that are easy for older relatives to use – and teaching them how to use it the process.
But for a larger number, they have embraced technology and its possibilities as never before.
From zoom meetings, to podcasts and apps, world-wide museum tours and internet shopping, the world has become their oyster – all from the comfort, and more importantly the safety, of their own home.
Throughout Anglican Care’s residential aged care homes, where COVID restrictions have at times made physical interaction more difficult, we have leant on technology to help residents stay connected with their families as well as introducing podcasts to help everyone stay active and keep their minds engaged.
Here are some ways for older Australians to stay socially connected and active:
- Learn a new technology
FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and lots more. There are so many online options available to talk with family and friends. Doing the basics is easy, and for most people, fun. If setting up an account seems daunting – ask a neighbour, niece or nephew or grandchild for a quick tutorial.
- Stay active in the community from home
It may sound counterintuitive. How can you remain a part of the community if the goal is to separate from the community? But maybe there’s a remote option? Many organisations rely on volunteers to make phone calls – you can do that from home!
- Go on a news diet
Stay informed, know what’s going on but don’t get locked into endlessly watching “breaking news”. Typically, not much changes hour to hour. Watch a news update in the morning, then check in again at night.
- Reach out to family and friends
Stay in touch with the people close to you, especially those who are social distancing too. Why not create a “buddy system” to make sure vulnerable and hard-to-reach people stay connected. And for those of you who are not elderly – why not make it a point to check in on your older friends and relatives? Such thoughtfulness is always greatly appreciated.
- Discover Podcasts
Simply put podcasts are episodes of an audio program available on the Internet. Just like television there is a genre for everyone! Want to know about cooking, crime solving, celebrities – you name it and there is a podcast available. Anglican Care even has one! Let’s Talk Seniors is available via Itunes, GooglePlay or our website www.anglicancare.com.au.
- Visit a virtual museum
We may not be able to travel at the moment, but that doesn’t mean our access to the arts and culture is cut off. From the comfort of your own lounge room visit the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City or the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Simply type in virtual museum tours in your search engine and start visiting!
Now, more than ever, people need to find smart ways to stay connected and technology provides that.