Becoming more comfortable with computers

Q: I’d like to learn more about computers. Are there any local classes for seniors?

A: As technology advances, it becomes increasingly integral to how we go about living our daily lives. Computers can help us connect and communicate with others, work more efficiently, find information, and learn new things. In fact, computers and technology now play a role in most aspects of our society including education, medicine, communication, social engagement and transportation.

Generally, most Millennials and Generation Z members seem to operate the latest tech gadgets with confidence and skill that leaves many amazed. There’s a good reason for that. These generations, sometimes referred to as digital natives, have been using advanced technology from a very early age and tend to be rather comfortable exploring it. For people who were not introduced to what is now considered “everyday tech” until much later in life, many of the modern devices at our disposal feel foreign. In fact, there are some of us who feel intimidated and even tend to avoid it when possible.

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This is understandable, but seniors who learn to use recent technology may find it easier to navigate, remain independent, and stay connected with friends and loved ones.

The Forsyth County Library’s Computer Training Bridge offers high-quality computer literacy training with the goal of improving quality of life and helping Forsyth County residents — specifically underserved individuals — adjust to living in an electronic, networked, computer-based society. Training opportunities such as basic computer skills, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Canva, social media, Zoom, and even 3-D printing are available.

The classes are primarily held at the Central Library, 660 W. 5th Street, in Winston-Salem. The sign-up form only takes a few minutes to complete. To learn more, view class schedules, or register for Computer Training Bridge classes, visit forsythcomputertraining.org or call 336-703-3079.

Q: My parents recently moved to a senior living community, and they do not seem to be socializing very much. What are some ways I can help?

Answer: Moving into a new community is similar to starting a new job or the first day of school. There are new people, surroundings, and activities which may take some time to get used to. Remember, everyone has different levels of readiness for change. Some people will be in denial; some may be mourning the loss of what they have left behind. Other common reactions are feeling overwhelmed, awkward, or self-conscious.

Even those who were highly social before the move may become withdrawn. Socializing with new people can be intimidating. Fortunately, most senior living communities provide a variety of opportunities for residents to become more social.

There are many benefits of having an active social life. Studies have shown seniors who are socially engaged are more likely to exercise, have better self-esteem, and experience less anxiety and depression. Socializing also boosts cognitive health and has been shown to decrease mortality rates. Considering the benefits, it would be worthwhile for you to encourage your parents to become more integrated into their community.

To start, familiarize yourself with activities that are available, and find out which groups in the community frequently socialize together. With that information you can better approach your parents with options and information that might interest them. Ask them to show you around and introduce you to other residents. This could be a good ice breaker and help them learn more about their neighbors.

If your parents are in a residential facility, point out to them the common areas, such as dining rooms, activity rooms, and TV rooms, where there may be opportunities for more indirect interaction. Most facilities have an activities director. This would be the perfect staff member to connect your parents with.

There are a variety of opportunities to also socialize outside of their new community. You may consider connecting with local nonprofits to learn about ways to engage and get involved. For example, Senior Services offers a Senior Lunch, group nutrition program, three days a week at four sites across Forsyth County, providing a warm, friendly atmosphere and a hot lunch for seniors over the age of 60 who are able to come and enjoy a meal with friends.

For more information, visit seniorservicesinc.org/services/senior-lunch-program/ or call 336-725-0907. Another example is The Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem where many opportunities for older adults to participate in social and enrichment activities exist. For more information, visit shepherdscenter.org or call 336-748-0217.

AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by staff of Senior Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem. If you have a question, email [email protected] or mail to Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.

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