Ross Alcock helped people understand computers for a living. That has not changed in retirement. He lives at VMCH’s Providence Retirement Village, in Bacchus Marsh, and residents turn to him when their gadgets break down.
The 79-year-old, whose job it was to implement computer networks for schools, sympathises with people who struggle with the digital age.
“When you throw a computer at some older people – be it an iPad or a smart phone – there’s a bit of terror involved of the unknown. They are scared they are going to break it,” he said.
Ross’s advice is to persevere. He knows that older people have a lot more to gain than lose by becoming digitally connected. His approach when helping his friends master their gadgets and the internet involves humour and fun.
Asking Apple’s digital assistant Siri a few silly questions to get a laugh is always popular with his friends.
“They realise here’s something they can talk to and have some fun with. It takes the fear out of it.”
He then shows them the great things they can get from technology.
Things like finding new recipes on the internet, online shopping for gifts, reading newspapers, paying bills, banking and of course keeping up with friends and family on social media.
Staying connected at any age
Did you know that social isolation is worse for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day? Staying socially active is also a bigger influence on your overall wellbeing than exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.
That can become more difficult when we age thanks to changes like leaving the workforce, children moving away or illness.
In the digital age where so much communication happens online, how do older people stay connected?
VMCH Residential Services Clinical Manager, Jeff Brooks, said some of our aged care residences have programs to help residents learn how to use iPads and engage with the internet. VMCH is also looking to expand this program.
Volunteers and students from near-by schools get a real kick out of showing residents how to use iPads. Some of the things that are most popular with residents is learning about social media and connecting with their children and grandchildren.
“They love being able to keep in touch with the news, email people, learn how to use services like Skype to video-stream with loved ones that live far away.”
Nothing beats visits from loved ones. When that’s not possible, being able to see their faces and speak to them via a tablet can be the next best thing.
For some people it is the difference between having regular updates about their loved-one’s lives, and watching their grandkids grow up. As opposed to being lucky to see relatives, who sometimes live interstate or overseas, a few times a year if they are lucky.
“It just makes the world much smaller and brings so many things to their doorstep,” Jeff said.
You can help
At VMCH, we have 11 aged care residences located throughout Victoria. We are launching our In-Touch program to help more residents stay connected.
Our new fundraising campaign aims to provide residents with new iPads and assist them to get the most out of them. Local volunteers and students from near-by schools will help residents learn iPad basics, connect to their community and loved ones.
If you would like to donate to our In-Touch appeal, please contact the Fundraising Team on 1800 036 377 or donate securely on VMCH’s website.