Senior Community Services is helping older adults learn, stay connected and remain independent.
“Post-COVID, most Americans would say technology is essential, yet more than half of Minnesotans aged 65 and older still do not have broadband internet,” writes Deb Taylor, CEO at Wayzata-based nonprofit Senior Community Services.
In her column, Bridging the Technology Gap in an Aging World, Taylor notes that technology is built in all around us, but seniors in particular aren’t in a position to benefit from its advantages. “This isn’t for lack of awareness or interest,” she writes. “They’re willing to learn, but ageism has created barriers to equitable technology resources and education for older adults.”
The services of Senior Community Services are manifold, but the purpose at the heart of it all is the same: helping seniors continue to live independently in their homes. To this end, Senior Care Services offers a number of programs, from senior outreach and caregiver services to its Household and Outdoor Maintenance (HOME) Program, which includes housekeeping, minor home repairs, lawn care and personal technology support and training.
Judy Durkee has lived in Plymouth for around 20 years and, at the age of 63, found herself needing some help around the home. “[Senior Community Services is] a great resource for senior people that need assistance with anything,” Durkee says. “I’m in a wheelchair, so I can’t change a light bulb or do easy things that normal people can do.”
Through the HOME program, Durkee connected with repair person Brenda Cornell, who helped with everything from changing furnace filters to exchanging light bulbs. “She’s awesome,” Durkee says. “I’ve used her for a couple of years now.”
Recently, Durkee also dabbled with the technology support and training, connecting with Jim Villars for help connecting her printer to both her computer and her phone. “I showed her how to utilize the printer so that she could print an email, print a document,” Villars says.
Villars, a staff member at Senior Community Services, has a background in IT that spans over 40 years. A senior himself at 70, Villars has a personal connection with the organization. His mother used its services for years.
“I have a little bit of knowledge that I can share with people,” Villars says. “And most seniors just are afraid of technology and just need a little help to walk them through whatever their issue might be. I’ve been doing it for a long time with my family and friends, and I’m happy to do it for Senior Community Services as well.”
So, does Durkee have any future plans for technology training?
“Oh, I’ll learn whatever you teach me,” she says. “Yeah, I love learning new stuff.”