Shawnee College ElderReach program offers ‘Tech for Seniors’

As people age, they often cope with feelings of loss, inadequacy and disengagement from their community. 

The Shawnee Community College Continuing Education Center is working to help them reengage with friends, family and the world around them through the ElderReach program. 

ElderReach is designed to provide elderly citizens with lifelong learning opportunities that encourage social engagement, personal connection and intellectual stimulation, regardless of their age.

The college notes that research suggests older adults who continue learning new activities are less likely to develop cognitive decline. 

Additionally, lifelong learning helps them to maintain healthy emotional well-being and positive self-image and to overcome the sense of social isolation many feel as they age. 

 “The ElderReach seminars and workshops are a game-changer for our aging population,” says Dr. Gregory Mason. Mason is dean of workforce innovation at Shawnee Community College. 

“These non-credit courses vary in topic, length of session and requirements for participation; however, we offer something for everyone to enjoy.” 

Mason says the courses may be formal or informal and can be offered in a traditional classroom setting, group gathering or by remote learning. 

“Whether in arts and culture, computer science, economics, health or whatever field the senior is interested in, ElderReach helps seniors to explore their different interests, interact amongst themselves and with others, boost their self-esteem and participate in learning that is both enlightening and fun.”

The new program has been providing learning opportunities for only a few weeks, but already there has been significant interest, the college says.

The college has partnered with the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging to offer a “Tech for Seniors” computer/tablet navigation course for seniors at the West Vienna Senior Center in West Vienna, along with other senior centers throughout the region. 

The workshops teach basic computer skills, including conducting Zoom meetings for seniors who want to connect via video conferencing with family members who may live too far to visit frequently. 

A recent survey from AARP found that older adults boosted technology purchases during the pandemic. 

Still, more than half indicated they needed a better grasp on using the devices they had acquired. Mason says his team hopes to change that. 

“Our classes are taught in four-week sessions and explain the value of digital technology in the lives of older adults while helping them overcome obstacles to using digital technology. 

“The program provides opportunities to actively learn through “hands-on” engagement via a tablet or PC. It includes training for email, video conferencing and a host of senior-friendly applications.”

For more information about ElderReach, contact the Shawnee Community College Continuing Education Center by phone at 618-634-3364 or by email training@shawneecc.edu

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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