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Seniors learn about technology

FGP employee Rena Price (standing) shows Bernice Bolton and Martha Oliver some of the features on an iPad. Photo by Kellie Singleton.
FGP employee Rena Price (standing) shows Bernice Bolton and Martha Oliver some of the features on an iPad. Photo by Kellie Singleton.

Being able to communicate with friends and family is becoming increasingly easier by the day thanks to all the new technology that continues to permeate our society.

Facebook and Instagram gives users a way to instantly share pictures and updates about the things going on in their lives. Twitter offers easy access to quick thoughts that range from important news to what someone had for breakfast that day. Smart phones have features that allow people to video chat with family members in another state or access e-mail to stay in touch with other loved ones.

But even though this new technology may seem to make communication better for most people, a large group of senior citizens are feeling more and more isolated with the continuous introduction of new technology because many are unfamiliar with it and do not know how to use it.

This growing problem is something the Foster Grandparents Program hoped to correct with one of their monthly in-service meetings held at the FGP office in Russellville.

Jessica Latham, director of the Foster Grandparents Program that serves Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale, Marion and Winston counties, said the purpose of the in-service meetings is to address some topics that will be beneficial or useful to those who participate in the program, and she believed a senior technology seminar would be very beneficial.

“Four our foster grandparents, the kids they are helping in school know how to use iPads and computers and smart phones, so we think it would be useful if our foster grandparents had somewhat of an understanding of this technology as well,” Latham said.

‘But beyond that, we also want them to be able to communicate with their family, so I think this was an important topic to discuss.”

Dave Hargrove, regional director of state legislative and regulatory affairs for AT&T Alabama, conducted the seminar this past Thursday where he loaned iPads to the foster grandparents to practice on while he showed them the benefits of new technology and how to utilize it.

Judy Martin is in her second year with the FGP and she said she was glad to have some time set aside for her to learn about new technology.

“As we get older, we’re not as mobile as we used to be,” she said.

“If we can learn to use these computers and technology, we can still see our grandchildren and keep up with the things they are doing. Even though telephones are good, you can’t see your grandchild that way or see the special events, like graduation, that they are a part of, but you can see all that through pictures and videos and stay in better contact with the people you love.”

Martin said Hargrove also talked about the benefits technology can have concerning health and medical issues as well.

“It’s getting to where now you can video chat with your physician if you are unable to go to the doctor or have a problem,” she said, “and that’s good for those who are older and have several different health issues.”

Martin, who has a smart phone and a computer, said staying connected with friends and family doesn’t have to be a difficult task if people will just learn it and adjust to it.

“If we take time to learn what’s available to us and learn to work with the technology we have, we can stay connected,” she said. “If we don’t, it will just be one more way we are disconnected from everyone around us.

“Old dogs can learn new tricks, you just have to be willing to do it.”