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As life moves online, an older generation encounters a digital divide



To bridge the digital gap, families find new apps and things that are easy for older relatives to use. Businesses and community members make phone calls, and in areas where there are no lockdowns in place yet, workshops are working to help those uncomfortable with technology trips through the basics.

Officials are also asking people to step in to close the gap. Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urged people this month to help seniors set up technology to talk to medical providers.

"If you have an elderly neighbor or family member who may be having trouble with their laptop or phone for this purpose, make yourself available to help," Verma said at a news conference.

At nursing homes that have stopped visitors from to come in to limit the spread of the virus are workers who use technology to help residents stay in touch with their families.

At 23 senior living communities in North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, run by Spring Arbor Senior Living , workers have been trying to make family calls – sometimes more per day per capita – over Apple's FaceTime, Skype and a software system run by K4Connect, a technical provider, said Rich Williams, senior vice president at HHHunt, which owns the centers.

" That line of communication is crucial to the resident's well-being, ”he said.

Mr. Williams added that workers had also used virtual activities such as Nintendo's Wii bowling and SingFit, a music singalong program, to help Spring Arbor's 1,450 residents – whose average age is 88 – pass the time and stay active .

Candoo, a New York-based company that helps older people navigate technology, recently taught their customers how to use Zoom and other video calling apps with downloadable guides and phone calls, and in some cases by taking over their screens and showing them where to click. Candoo charges $ 30 for an hour lesson and $ 40 for support.


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