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Free services help seniors connect online

Most of life’s business has moved online, but the shift has left some seniors out. There are still free resources available to get them online and up to speed.

SAN ANTONIO — It's not a fear of technology that keeps seniors offline. Like many of us, it is more about a fear of failure.

“They always said, 'Well, I’m not smart enough. I can never do this,'" said Darryl Greer with San Antonio’s Senior Planet.

San Antonio offers multiple resources to help seniors find their way into and around the online world. Senior Planet’s mission is to help seniors use technology to prevent social isolation, and that objective has become even more critical since the pandemic began. 

Support includes the most basic of digital steps.

“An individual connects to low-cost internet providers. We’ll share with them the information and requirements for that,” Greer said. 

There is help to find a device that is compatible with both financial and physical requirements.

 “We’ve helped individuals purchase or at least shop for devices that are low-cost, that are exact match with their needs, whether it’s somebody who has visual impairments, maybe they have nephropathy,” Greer said. 

Then there are classes to take you step-by-step through using devices and the internet.

 “Share how an individual can actually download the apps, what they are, and then how to connect,” Greer said. “In addition to that, we have classes on protecting your information.”

Learning to use Zoom is one of the most popular classes.

“Zoom allows us to connect in an almost-real environment in which people who haven’t seen their grandkids or their family or go to church, they’re still able to get to that connection while still being quarantined,” Greer said.

Telemedicine courses are also in demand.

“(For) some of our lectures, we were able to bring doctors who actually give their advice and perspective on the whole telemedicine experience,” Greer said. “Now, as a result, many members are actually open to and completely understand telemedicine, which is just phenomenal."

There is plenty of assistance, with classes and information in English and Spanish, plus a tech support hotline (210-504-4862) and email address.

 “It’s a difficult process to learn something new, but we’re here to help them continue on their journey with technology in life and everything else,” said Greer.

The San Antonio Public Library also offers a variety of online classes once someone is comfortable online.

“They can learn calligraphy, they can learn drawing things, they can learn, you know, other kinds of computer skills, self-paced computer classes like PowerPoint or Word of using Email,” said Morgan Yoshimura, the coordinator of services to adults for the public library system.

See a full list of available adult courses available through the public library here

The goal is to ultimately help seniors enjoy an overall better quality of life both on and offline during the pandemic.

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