Older Adults, Technology, and Coronavirus
With the onset of physical distancing, older Americans are increasingly dependent on technology to communicate with friends, family, and even medical professionals.
Luckily, many people already own an internet-capable device. The Pew Research Center reports that, as of 2019, over 40% of older adults own a smartphone. These devices are making a difference in the lives of those who are physically distancing during the pandemic.
What’s more, many older Americans are already linked in. The Stanford Center on Longevity reports that as of 2019, two-thirds of adults over the age of 65 use the internet, proving that most older adults are keeping up with the wider world through the Web.
Technology is key to staying socially connected during the pandemic (and beyond). Several studies have shown that socializing is essential for keeping healthy, at any age, as it reduces loneliness. Senior centers, libraries, and institutions with social programs have closed their physical doors for the foreseeable future, but these institutions continue to reach out to older adults using technology. Older adult-focused meetings or classes that were previously held in person have moved to online classrooms using applications such as Zoom or Periscope. Virtual meetings for bingo, chair yoga, or even ceramics instruction are run by local senior centers, YMCAs, or other institutions.
CT Community Care (CCC) client Mr. N was "back in action" and thrilled to be benefitting from virtual classes now up and running at his local center in Ridgefield, CT. His CCC Care Manager Sutton shared, "they have been doing exercise classes to keep everyone moving and even offering a coffee hour to check in with everyone and stay connected."
There are lists of virtual events for older adults that can be found on many senior center websites, and some are found at this one-stop-shopping resource. CT Healthy Living Collective has partnered with the Newington Senior & Disabled Center to offer a virtual Aging Mastery Program starting May 5th. Classes will be held through Zoom. For more information, contact Dianne Stone at Dstone@newingtonct.gov or 860-665-8778.
As many older Americans are staying social through their devices, including smartphones, tablets, or laptops with built-in cameras, they are using applications such as Skype, Facebook, Facetime, and WhatsApp to make video calls to their family, friends and healthcare professionals.
Telehealth visits, or visits from care providers made via online portals, are being used more than ever before to assist people. Even routine medical visits are now being made from the safety of home. And, for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) covers a broader range of services conducted remotely. Visit this link to read more.
Connecticut Community Care is among the organizations that have adapted, remained flexible, and stayed true to the mission of helping people receive the care they need at home in their own community during these difficult times. CCC Care Managers stay in close touch with our clients and their families. In fact, CCC Care Manager Emily commented, “To me, my role on the other side of the phone is so important. Some need words of comfort while others just need to be heard. When I’m able to hear relief in their voices it fills my heart with joy.”
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