User uShare Login | Register
Login
Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.


63° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options

RADAR LOCATION

TEMPERATURE LOCATION

KELOLAND.com | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!

 

Connecting To Community

March 7, 2014, 10:15 PM by Hailey Higgins

Connecting To Community
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Learning the latest technology is considered to be the realm of the young, but now seniors citizens are becoming more familiar with tablets and apps than some 20 year olds.

In the US, people over the age of 65 are among the fastest growing groups to go online. A pilot program in KELOLAND is designed to bring more seniors to the world wide web-- particularly those at risk of social isolation.

Over the last six months, Ellen Westhoff went from learning what an iPad is to using email, facebook, pinterest and even tumbler.

"It's hard because we didn't have any of this. It is totally new," Westhoff said.

The 80-year-old great-grandmother is participating in weekly classes put on by the AARP Foundation, the Good Sameritan's society and USD.

Connecting to Community is part of a pilot program to help seniors get to know touch-screen technology in effort to combat loneliness.

"We know that social isolation can lead to medical issues, psychosocial issues, and we know by keeping people engaged and social that we are keeping them healthy," Stacy Smallfield said.

When we first met the group in September, the seniors were learning how to send an email to the person sitting next to them. But first, they needed to be taught how to use the touch-screen.

"It's been amazing the type of things that they are more confident with the iPad, they are connecting with their family and friends from far away," Betsy Haag said, a volunteer trainer. "They are seeing what it's like to be connected online and I think they know more than they think they do."

"Most of us older people don't know how to communicate with technology, and my children kept saying, 'Mother, you have to learn how,'" Westhoff said.

While it hasn't been easy, some of the original 55 participants are going down the information highway at lightning speed. Westhoff's focused on email and Facebook, allowing her to stay in touch with her 28 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.

"One of my great-granddaughters, her father, my grandson, passed away," Westhoff said. "I really never got to know her and now something almost every day that I hear from her on Facebook."

Volunteers from USD teach the twice-a-week classes.

The first pilot program launched in Washington D.C., but organizers wanted to bring the iPad classes to a more "rural" part of the country.

"Everyone has a story to tell," Smallfield said. "It's all about connecting to each other. The technology is the vehicle but it's not, in and of itself the most important thing."

Throughout the class, Stacy Smallfield and others from USD conducted research to help the pilot program. They focused on things like the social impact, technology acceptance and changes in daily routine. Even though the program is almost over, participants are expected to keep in touch with each other online.

For Westhoff, she says the benefits have been worth the effort it took to learn how to use the once-intimidating technology.

"I am so fortunate that I've been given this opportunity to do this class," Westhoff said. "Something we will never forget. It's wonderful."

AARP hasn't announced any specifics where the program will go next, but organizers say they are looking for other opportunities for Connected To Community.

Previous Story

Next Story


Comments







 
Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

View featured stories

You may also like

No Easy Answers

7/28/2014 10:15 PM

From addiction to homelessness, mental illness and criminal activity, evidence that Sioux Falls has a bigger issue on its hands is front and center, r...

Full Story | Watch
Handing Down A Family Tradition

7/27/2014 10:19 PM

America offers a number of pastimes, but golf has been a part of Glenn Anderson's life since childhood.

Full Story | Watch
Easter Miracle

7/30/2014 9:55 PM

A South Dakota motorcyclist critically injured in an Easter Sunday crash is calling his recovery part miraculous and part stubbornness.

Full Story | Watch
The Final Countdown

7/29/2014 10:00 PM

The Denny Sanford Premier Center is nearing completion. It's been years in the making, but soon the $117 million event center will open its d...

Full Story | Watch
Water Quality And Safety On Pelican Lake

7/25/2014 10:00 PM

It doesn't happen often but last month state officials had to ban swimming and recreation on Pelican Lake in Watertown because of toxic levels of ...

Full Story | Watch


Events