Empowering Older Adults to Use Technology

Posted on 04/22/24

This guest post was written and submitted by Michelle Puzzo, President & Co-Founder of UR Community Cares

In today's rapidly evolving digital world, technology is integral in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. From communicating with loved ones to accessing essential services, digital literacy is essential for everyone, including older adults. However, bridging the digital divide remains a significant challenge, particularly for seniors in rural areas who may lack access to meaningful technology programs tailored to their needs.

Michelle Puzzo
Michelle Puzzo

UR Community Cares, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping older and disabled neighbors supported in their homes and active in their communities, recognizes this gap as so many Connecticut seniors are calling to be connected with volunteers who can help them with technology. They discovered the Senior Planet licensing program which was launched in 2021 with the aim of addressing the growing demand for in-person technology programs that cater specifically to older adults, particularly those in rural communities. Developed by Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP, this free program offers a wide range of courses designed to empower seniors with the skills and knowledge needed to confidently navigate the digital world.

UR Community Cares just became a new licensed partner with Senior Planet licensing program and will begin delivering in-person technology classes, workshops, and lectures such as "Getting Started on Zoom" and "Smartphones at a Glance." These courses provide essential skills for seniors to communicate effectively and stay connected with friends, family, and essential services, especially during times when in-person interactions may be limited.

However, the program goes beyond basic tech skills, catering to the diverse interests and needs of the aging community. Those enrolled in the program have access to digital creativity platforms like Canva, and fitness and meditation apps like Insight Timer, the iPhone Health App, Google Fit App, and many more. This holistic approach ensures that participants not only learn how to use technology but also have the opportunity to explore its creative and wellness-enhancing possibilities.

One of the key principles of the Senior Planet licensing program is accessibility and inclusivity. To ensure that no senior is left behind, the program offers curriculum options in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, and Chinese. This commitment to inclusivity allows people from diverse linguistic backgrounds to participate fully in the program and reap its benefits. UR Community Cares Tech Center, 153 Spruce Street, Manchester, has translating earbuds so people in any language can take part in the programming.

Moreover, the Senior Planet licensing program prioritizes collaboration with local partners. By equipping local organizations with the resources and training needed to deliver programs through existing operational systems, the initiative can reach more people effectively. Additionally, flexibility is built into the curriculum to accommodate geographic-specific changes to program delivery, ensuring that the content remains relevant and accessible to seniors in different communities.

For organizations interested in bringing the Senior Planet licensing program to their community, the process is straightforward. Simply visit the OATS website at www.oats.org/licensing or email licensing@seniorplanet.org for more information on how to get started. By partnering with OATS and joining the Senior Planet licensing program, organizations can make a tangible difference in the lives of older adults in their community and empower them to thrive in the digital age.

In conclusion, the Senior Planet licensing program represents a vital step in bridging the digital divide and inspiring older adults to harness the power of technology for their benefit. Through its comprehensive curriculum, commitment to accessibility, and collaboration with local partners, the program is transforming lives across the country, one community at a time.

Michelle Puzzo, President & Co-Founder of UR Community Cares, practiced physical therapy for 20 years and took her knowledge about the complexity of disability and aging in place independently and created a website to better improve people’s lives. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1998 with her BS in Physical Therapy.

This story is provided by AARP Connecticut. Visit the AARP Connecticut page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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