In our ever-changing digital world, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest technological trends. But it can be especially frustrating for older adults, who may be learning technology for the first time. While today’s teens grew up surrounded by smartphones, wireless internet, and social networking sites, the digital world is a relatively new experience for older adults.
This isn’t to say that older generations aren’t interested in embracing digital technology. In fact, according to Pew Research, seniors are more digitally connected than ever before, with 67% of adults ages 65 and older saying they go online. However, the research also found that one barrier to seniors joining the online world is the need for assistance. Of the respondents, 77% said they’d need someone to assist them with using new digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, or laptop computers.
Getting older adults “plugged in” to technology isn’t always an easy process, but there are ways to help bridge the generational gap in tech savviness. At one of the Graceworks Housing Services communities, a unique partnership was formed when local teens met with older adults to help them navigate the internet and digital devices, set up social media accounts, and communicate with friends and loved ones through technology.
Once a month, students of the Bellefontaine High School DECA program walked down the street to visit Graceworks Luther Community, which offers affordable housing for seniors 62 and older with limited income. The students volunteered their time and talents to teach the residents technological skills, answer their questions, and build their confidence in the digital world.
For residents in the Luther Community, learning technology opened up a world of possibilities.
“This program is important to our residents because it gives them an opportunity to learn something new, something out of the box that’s a little creative,” said LeAnnea Taylor, Service Coordinator at Luther Community.
In the end, the rewards of the collaborative program extended beyond the benefits of learning technology. During every visit, generational differences were overcome and new friendships blossomed.
“I really love the fact that the partnership has helped bridge the gap,” said Katie Rychener, DECA Advisor at Bellefontaine High School. “While we’re talking about technology, we’re also learning about relationships.”
For students, the partnership gave them an opportunity to share their knowledge of technology and make a difference in the lives of the residents.
Brooke Miranda, one of DECA student volunteers from Bellefontaine High School, said she loved participating in the program. “I love helping people,” she said. “And I love knowing that my happiness can make someone else happy.”
Graceworks Housing Services is affiliated with Graceworks Lutheran Services, which has devoted nearly a century to faithfully caring for the needs of all people. Incorporated in 1926, Graceworks Lutheran Services provides residential and personal services to help individuals achieve stability in their lives. We serve people of all faiths through our apartment communities located throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
For more information on our safe and affordable housing options for low-income elderly or disabled individuals, please contact us. We are happy to speak with you and answer your questions.