Living in a New World

elderly woman wearing face mask on a cell phone

Covid-19 has launched people of all ages into a new world of cyber communication. It’s a “push that came to shove” when the triple challenge emerged to protect older adults from exposure to the virus, finding ways to stay close while following guidelines for social distancing and reach out to each other as the new norms of “normal life” evolve.

We are fortunate that the timing of changes comes as we are finally about to get Broadband in the Hilltowns. Learning to use the internet is becoming more and more a necessity than a luxury as we build stronger communities.

Highland Valley Elder Services has informed us that “each Council on Aging can receive as much as $3500 of Title IIIB community support funds to better equip COAs in providing services in creative and adaptive ways, to meet the changing needs of our senior population due to Covid-19. “The goal is to allow COAs to promote greater capacity to provide remote services to consumers during the Covid pandemic and beyond.”

Some examples of funding include upgraded technoloy and capacity to communicate by using updated technology and internet services

What kind of programs do we envision? One of the most important issues in developing “Age Friendly Communities” is the desire for more and more accessible information about life in our communities, not just about older adults, but for everyone. Some of us will be setting up computer classes using interactive screens to teach the basics for small groups wanting to talk with each other in limited but social distancing locations. Much better than a teacher moving from person to person to coach you by looking over your shoulder at individual small screens. It’ll all be on a big screen onsite that allows you to actually see how to operate and change information tailored to your community or region. It could also be done through the internet with a teacher available both in person and online.

Three of the COAs in the Hilltowns already provide exercises with Joan Griswold’s use of ZOOM classes and others are invited. Funding from Highland Valley currently supports this important program. More than one chair yoga teacher plans to also offer some online classes. Who would have thought that we could expand contact and health programs by seeing each other virtually? It’s not the same as up front and personal, but as we gradually move toward safer ways of coming together we can also keep our online relationships going.

By the time you read this, you will have no doubt learned of other new programs and services. The Chesterfield COA has wanted for some time to let people what is going on at the Community Center without having to come inside.