Cyber-Seniors may sound like a bad science fiction movie but its true purpose is helping the elderly live happily with new technology.
The program at Birmingham’s Collat Jewish Family Services (CJFS) helps seniors work with computers, iPhones and the like. Catherine Findley leads the program.
Findley has been working at CJFS for five years supervising in-home help for seniors, be it housekeeping, bathing, meal preparation or errands. CJFS provides help for the elderly so they remain as independent as possible.
“I am a clinical social worker at CJFS but I wear several hats. I am in charge of our popular personal care program, where we provide in-home help for seniors. It’s designed around helping seniors live as independently as possible as long as possible,” Findley said.
Seniors continue to need assistance with their laptops and smart phones. Unlike teenagers who grew up speaking the language of modern devices, seniors are having to learn an entire new discipline.
“I kept seeing this need while working with seniors and did some research on the kind of programs out there,” Findley said. “I came across Cyber-Seniors, which is an international program that started in Canada and we brought it to the agency and made it our own. We have local college students who, as part of a class, work one-on-one with our senior participants at any level.”
Findley and the students help seniors with a range of demands, including texting, Facebook, email and even staying in touch with the grandkids, who, according to some seniors are “computer wizards.”
One senior commented on the help she received with technology: “It was wonderfully helpful to me. I am computer literate and get things done but needed more help on things I did not do the right way. I did get the help I needed in the two days I attended Cyber-Seniors, and now onward to practicing and doing! The two people I worked with were wonderfully patient and so nice to work with me,” Marlene Waller said.
Touching moments happen while the seniors are discovering new technology.
“In the class right now, we have a senior whose husband was an announcer for the Mets and he had passed away some years ago. One of the students working with her was able to find a video of her husband being inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. She was so moved seeing this video of her husband and hearing his voice, which she hadn’t heard in over 10 years,” Findley said.
Gratifying moments like those are aplenty with Findley and her seniors. There is always something around the corner as seniors become more adept with technology.
“The work I do with CJFS is incredibly gratifying. We really do make it so these seniors can live happy, full and independent lives,” Findley said. “Without our services, many of these seniors would have to live in a nursing home, so that’s a fulfilling way to work. With our Cyber-Seniors, we open up whole new worlds for these people.”
Cyber-Seniors is not about octogenarians taking over the world, but they can text, email and Facebook to stay connected with it.
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