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Over the past four years, as we have traversed through COVID-19, we have learned that our senior population has felt the effects of isolation and loneliness perhaps more than others due to their lack of computer skills. Many 55+ individuals, not having grown up in the computer age, had less interest and skills in this area, while some had none at all. Many were not familiar with Facebook or social media, did not surf the web and many didn’t even have an email address. So, when this pandemic hit and the ensuing lockdown, they were left isolated and very much alone. Unable to visit family and friends, they also lacked the ability to video chat as they did not own a computer.
It has since been determined and stated by the health field that the senior population numbers diagnosed with depression and anxiety, mental health issues, had climbed to record heights due to the isolation and loneliness.
This lack of computer skills showed the senior population that they needed to understand computers and how to use them. The Flourish Centre set about working with the Adult Learning Opportunities Organization in Bridgewater to bring into the centre some basic computer training. Since the beginning of 2022, there have been two eight-week computer basics training courses, as well as a four-week social media class that outlined what social media is and how to use it. In the fall of this year, we started offering another class with Jennifer Meister, ALO trainer. Since this training started, it has been noted that our members have become familiar with computers and many are on Facebook, chatting online and video chatting with family and friends. They feel secure in the fact that if another lockdown occurs, they will be able to reach out to family and friends and not be as lonely.
Recently in the centre, the topics of Google Nest and Alexa were discussed, as they can provide comfort to an individual living alone. Just having a system welcome you home by turning the lights on can be a comfort, not to mention a safety precaution. The technology today offers more than a cold sterile desktop. It is welcoming, helpful and brings light into an otherwise lonely environment.
If you or someone you know would like to learn how to use a computer, contact the Flourish 55+ Healthy Activity Centre at 902-543-2226. If you do not live in our area, here are some other organizations that may offer computer basics training in yours: local libraries, colleges (NSCC), NS Works, ALO.
The Flourish 55+ Healthy Activity Society Centre is located at 678 Lahave St., Bridgewater, N.S.
Karen Field is the vice-chair of Flourish 55+ Centre. Lisa Leblanc is the organization’s executive director.