BANGOR, Maine — Part of the surge in Internet interest has been because of seniors realizing just how disadvantaged they are in society if they don’t have at least some technical skills.
Some look to make use of social media to further their post-retirement business ambitions, but most just want to stay in contact with their families, whom they see less and less often because of distance or decreased mobility, according to Deborah McLean, founder of the Maine Senior Guide.
McLean founded the guide as a one-stop-shop website for sons or daughters of older parents looking for information on a variety of subjects, ranging from dementia treatment to senior center locations and social activities.
The guide is one of several organizations represented at the twice-yearly Maine Senior Expo, a conference where senior-minded products and services are displayed and guest speakers offer expert information on a variety of issues seniors face.
“A few years ago [at the Maine SeniorExpo], about a third of the [seniors] didn’t use computers. In the last year, I’ve gotten more people who say, ‘I can’t get online,’” McLean said.
According to McLean, many of the seniors she speaks to, either at expos or through her website, show interest in becoming connected online but are being held back from doing so because of different factors, such as a lack of funds or connectivity.
“As people age, their mobility and transportation gets limited,” McLean said. “[With technology] you can communicate from home, but [seniors] may not have the money for it.”
McLean believes more technologically focused community-education courses and better public Internet access are the two keys to help seniors catch up. McLean urges seniors to fight against isolation and seek out ways to get connected by visiting libraries or getting connected through family.
“By virtue of their age, they think it’s us against them,” McLean said. “When you get out of the workforce you fall behind. [There are] a lot of ways to teach [technology], but they need access.”