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Once lockdown ends there must be more help getting elderly online

PUBLISHED: 12:57 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:10 15 April 2020

Clear guidance on whether people can safely visit family and friends needs to be ready as soon as any easing of coronavirus lockdown rules is announced, a public health expert has warned. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Clear guidance on whether people can safely visit family and friends needs to be ready as soon as any easing of coronavirus lockdown rules is announced, a public health expert has warned. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Once coronavirus lockdown is over there needs to be a national effort to help the elderly get online so they aren’t left out if this happens again.

There should be more classes and drop-in sessions on using technology for pensioners once this is over Credit: Getty Images/iStockphotoThere should be more classes and drop-in sessions on using technology for pensioners once this is over Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Despite all of us being stuck indoors at the moment, we seem to be seeing our family and friends more than ever with a jam-packed schedule of quiz nights, catch-ups and even baking competitions over video call.

But while most people are utilising technology and social media to keep in touch with their loved ones, it has highlighted just how much help the elderly need in navigating the online world.

Where they once would have turned their nose up at it and much prefer face-to-face interactions or a landline call, plenty are now realising the benefits of technology now they can no longer see their friends, children and grandchildren in person.

After the coronavirus lockdown is over and things are back to normal, there needs to be nationwide initiatives and classes to help them use computers and also we have a personal responsibility to teach our own family members.

The desire to become a ‘silver surfer’ was probably not of huge interest to many before, but I guarantee this will be a different story in the future as many aren’t even treading water at the moment.

Once lockdown ends life won’t go back tonormal for many months, with waves of the virus returning also expected, so it is important now more than ever to make sure pensioners are equipped with the skills if they have to stay at home for a long period of time again.

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I’m 25 and am lucky to still have four wonderful grandparents who are all in their eighties - my dad’s dad is a former university professor so is reasonably tuned in with technology and is pretty good with FaceTime too.

However, it is a different story for his mum who still hasn’t used the iPad she was bought as a gift a few years ago, despite my efforts a few times to show her how she could watch Coronation Street on catch-up on it and use video call.

Many older people have been struggling to use video call during lockdown Credit: Getty Images/iStockphotoMany older people have been struggling to use video call during lockdown Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

She tried really hard when I was with her, but I imagine when I had gone there just wasn’t the need to practise and she also lives miles away in Hampshire from my home in Norwich and probably needed more regular help.

My mum’s parents are a mixed bag, my grandad does use his computer, albeit typing with one finger, but my grandma doesn’t use it at all.

I arranged a Zoom call, a video conferencing platform that is really popular at the moment, with them and my parents the other day and my technologically savvy boyfriend was put in charge of getting my grandparents to join in after my dad had failed.

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It took 40 minutes in total as they had issues trying to run it in their browser, as they didn’t know how to download it to their computer, they then couldn’t get the grid view to see everyone and then the sound wasn’t working.

Once we got it working they loved being able to see us all and I also recently did their online groceries which they had never done before and I reckon they may like to use again now.

For me it is second nature as I’ve been using a computer since I was a child, but it must be so difficult for the older generation who didn’t even know what one was for most of their lives.

After this I will be making much more of an effort to help my grandparents use computers not just in case lockdown returns but to make their everyday lives easier.

I also hope this will be backed up by government and local councils running classes and drop-in sessions to bring the elderly up to speed.


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