Local nonprofit empowers seniors to use technology
“I want to watch marching band videos,” said Sara Cooley, when she took a chance on technology by attending an info session hosted by the nonprofit Center for Aging in the Digital World. Founder Tak Sato had a simple idea: to ease seniors’ fears when it comes to technology. To do this he would take an old-school approach by gathering seniors around a table and teaching a free technology class just for them.
“We felt there was a need in our community that was not being met when it came to seniors having the opportunity to come together and learn that technology can be for them too,” said Sato, who founded the Center for Aging in the Digital World with his wife, Mely, and also pens The Digital World column for the Observer.
Cooley says what hooked her on giving technology a shot was when Sato told the group that just because a tablet can do lots of cool things, if all you want to do is one thing, that’s OK. “Just do what you want and don’t worry about the rest,” he said. This was the answer she was looking for.
For Karol Hoeffler, the pull to gain confidence in the digital world was her son and his family who live out of the country. “Like a lot of older people learning to use technology, it had been a trial,” she said. “I had an iPhone and iPad, but was not comfortable with them.” Luckily, she found the Discover Digital Literacy! class and now she’s Skyping regularly with her grandson.
Hoeffler recognizes that seniors need to try to keep up with technology. “The best thing the class did for me was enable me to gain the proficiency I needed,” she said. “Plus, at the end of the 16-week class I could ask questions during Sato’s ‘unofficial’ couch sessions.”
She urges people to take a class. “They’re free and Tak’s good at teaching technology.” She wants seniors to know that “we can all learn.” Today she’s texting, emailing, banking and shopping online, getting directions, watching videos of her grandson, and Skyping.
Cooley enjoys talking to folks about her learning as a volunteer ambassador. On May 16 she’ll be greeting seniors and caregivers at the third annual Living in the Digital World Senior Expo, presented by the Center for Aging in the Digital World. This free day for seniors is a perfect opportunity for people to learn what services are available for them and how to join a digital literacy class. Sato will be on-hand to talk about the fun of digital learning and staying safe online.
Seniors are invited to attend the Expo on Thursday, May 16, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rocky River Civic Center. Along with free admission there will be presentations, exhibits, prizes and food. Plus, a conversation with Cuyahoga County Councilmember Nan Baker at 11:30 a.m. about the services offered within Cuyahoga County for seniors and caregivers.
To learn more, visit EmpowerSeniors.org.