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Keep Older Adults Safe During the COVID-19 Crisis: Get Them Connected
For 12 years, Community Tech Network has been a leading nonprofit focused on helping older adults live comfortably and safely in a digital world by providing digital devices and digital literacy training. Now that our daily lives have been disrupted by the impact of COVID-19, it is more important then ever for isolated seniors staying home for their own safety to have home internet and the skills to access it. The mandate to shelter in place impacts each of us differently. A younger person at home for an extended time can keep in touch with colleagues at work and interact with family and friends via email and many other platforms. They can order groceries and meals online and can follow the news about the health crisis through a variety of media, visit health-related websites, and contact their doctor electronically if they feel ill.
For isolated seniors lacking the ability or the skills to access home internet, the COVID-19 isolation is not merely an inconvenience but a potentially life-threatening situation. An older person living in isolation may no longer have access to supportive social services networks providing meals, transportation, and companionship due to COVID-19 disruptions. Medical appointments will be canceled, and their groceries and life-sustaining medications may be running low. This isolation manifests fear and depression leading to inattention in following their medication regimen and eating regular meals.
Isolation for seniors becomes incrementally more essential as age increases. Adults in their 60s experience a fatality rate from COVID-19 of 3.6%, those in their 70s have an 8% fatality rate, while 15% of seniors in their 80s succumb to the virus. This is why it’s so important to keep our seniors safe at home while getting them connected. To accomplish this, CTN has launched Home Connect, an innovative new initiative designed to bring internet, and devices and training into the homes of seniors who need it the most.
We are working with our current partners to gather data on the connectivity needs of their clients. Partners will call their clients and find out if they have internet (beyond what they may use on their smartphone), if they have a device (larger than their smartphone), and if they are able use their device and internet to have video chats, research information, or complete online forms. Working with our partner agencies, we will address each senior’s needs, providing support in applying for the internet or configuring a tablet and shipping it to the senior’s home with instructions to call one of the staff members, who will walk them through the basics of using the device over the phone.
For additional details, refer to the blog post below regarding customized training for seniors through Home Connect.