SeniorNet Dallas on YouTube: Courageous Seniors Join the Social Media Revolution

Written By: Kim Hong - Mar• 26•13

I was blown away by SeniorNet Dallas’ “Slice of Life” video on YouTube and was compelled to share it with everyone! During the 6-minute video, volunteers share their personal experiences with students who were once fearful of computers and technology, and students also talk about what encouraged them to take their first steps into the digital age. The students express how they were able to overcome their deepest fears with the help of friendly volunteers who were patient and willing to take things step-by-step at their individual pace. SeniorNet volunteers are dedicated to educating and empowering older adults.

I contacted Jay Rydman, the SeniorNet volunteer who helped produce the video and uploaded it to YouTube, and asked him a few questions about the organization.

Q: How long has SeniorNet Dallas been around?

A: SeniorNet Dallas has been around for about 17 years.

Q: Who should sign up for SeniorNet classes?

A: We encourage anyone who wants to learn more about how to use computers and the digital age to sign up for classes. You can see what we offer on our website seniornetdallas.org.

Q: What is your most popular course?

A: Internet and email is our most popular course. We introduced courses on the iPad and iPhone last fall and they have been popular.

Q: Why did you decide to become part of SeniorNet?

A: About 20 years ago my parents wanted to learn how to use the computer and I wanted to help them.  My mother gave up trying to master the mouse but my dad kept at it. I discovered quickly how one who helps seniors with computers needs to have gigabytes of patience. But seeing eyes widen and some “a ha’s” along the way made it rewarding for me.  So when I became a senior and wanted to do something volunteer wise, I looked for a place where I could work with those who had yet  to discover how to use and control a brand new world.

As a social media enthusiast, I commend SeniorNet Dallas for producing such a telling video and sharing it on the Web! SeniorNet students are encouraged to extend their computer knowledge by becoming volunteers and coaches after completing their courses. As a matter of fact, the current President of SeniorNet Dallas was once a student in 2008!

“I discovered SeniorNet in 2008 after finding an ad in our local newspaper about a Digital Picture class.  In my closet, I had an unopened digital camera still in its original box and thought to myself ‘it’s about time to open the box and learn how to use it!’  So I attended the Digital Picture class and learned a lot of new skills, and had so much fun that when the next Digital Picture class was offered, I volunteered to be a coach.  I ended up coaching several classes and found that each time I did, I learned something new as well.  In 2011, I was asked to join the board of directors and assumed the role of President in 2012, a role I will hold again this year.  Not only this but I have graduated to teaching classes, something I never thought I had enough computer skills to do. ” – Gloria Meyer, President, SeniorNet Dallas.

For more information about the Dallas location, visit seniornetdallas.org today!

Thank you Microsoft!

Written By: Kim Hong - Mar• 05•13

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SeniorNet is proud to announce that we have received a very generous donation from Microsoft. This grant provides us with the long-awaited Windows 8 and Office 2013. This software is currently being distributed to your centers. Please contact your center leaders to sign up for new classes to learn about Windows 8 and Office 2013.

Windows 8
The newest version of Microsoft’s operating system has a lot of new features – but also a lot of changes! Even advanced computer users may be surprised by the new interface, which uses a start screen with tiles instead of the familiar start menu. Visit your local SeniorNet center to learn more about this new operating system and sign up for classes today!

Office 2013
Microsoft’s popular productivity suite (containing Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, Outlook, and others) is used widely in home and office environments. The newest version, released earlier this year, puts a greater focus on “cloud computing”: the sharing of files and applications over the internet. For more information about Office 2013 and cloud computing, check with your local learning center for classes and workshops.

Don’t be left behind… Contact your center today!

Seniors train in new technology

Written By: Guest Contributor - Feb• 15•13

 COURSE FOR SENIORS: Paul Woodward introduces his students to the SeniorNet website in a lesson on accessing the Internet. (Photo Credit: The Sentinel-Record)

COURSE FOR SENIORS: Paul Woodward introduces his students to the SeniorNet website in a lesson on accessing the Internet. (Photo Credit: The Sentinel-Record)

 For more than 25 years, Hot Springs SeniorNet has provided older adults with computer and technology training courses to enhance their lives and introduce them to a world of information online.

Since 2003, the Senior Center on Woodbine Avenue has increased its enrollment numbers from 20 to 30 students to an average of 100 students for each session.

“We currently have around 70 students,” said Paul Woodward, instructor. “We have two classrooms here and can teach about seven or eight students in each class.”

SeniorNet offers three sessions annually with classes ranging from topics like computer basics to utilizing social media. They also offer day workshops.

“Our classes are one day a week and are about one to two hours long,” said Rosemarie Kawlewski, co-coordinator for Hot Springs SeniorNet. “Each student gets a manual and with two coaches and one instructor for each class, they get hands-on instruction.”

“Some instructors stay after class to help,” said Cheryl Denison, instructor and website coordinator. “If I see a student who’s really struggling, I try to help them individually. Our job as instructors is to encourage our students.”

Every instructor is a former student of the program and with around 34 volunteers, Hot Springs SeniorNet is able to cater to its students’ needs.

“Each chapter operates a little differently, but all of our manuals and teaching materials come from our national headquarters,” Denison said.

But occasionally during a class, the instructor will go to a website or check their email and students will want to know how they did it.

“For those things we don’t have in the manual, our students will scramble to take notes,” Kawlewski said. “They’re so enthused to learn and that is exciting for us.”

Because of this excitement, the volunteers at SeniorNet said very rarely do students not come back for more courses. And once students are comfortable with their new skills, there is a whole world online available to them.

John McFerrin, who teaches courses on Internet and email said one of his favorite websites to show his students is YouTube.

“You can find videos on any topic and learn how to do just about anything,” McFerrin said.

And for people concerned they may not catch on as quickly in the courses, the volunteers at SeniorNet suggest enrolling with a family member or friend.

“We’ve had several students enroll with their siblings or spouses and that really helps them,” said Beverly Jackson, instructor. “They can help each other and they’ll also have a friend. Though many of our students become friends.”

And it’s not just the students who benefit from SeniorNet.

“We get a lot out of the courses,” Kawlewski said. “It keeps us thinking and busy and as long as we’re helping people, we’re making a difference.”

Registration for the Spring session will be on March 22 at the Senior Center and classes will start on April 8

Source: The Sentinel-Record, written by Beth Bright

New App Helps People with Vision Loss Easily Take Notes on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Written By: Guest Contributor - Feb• 12•13

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For the millions of Americans with vision loss looking for a simple, convenient way to take notes at work, at school, or at home, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today launched the AccessNote™, a specialized notetaker for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

“Apple products have earned high points from us for their out-of-the-box accessibility for users who are blind or visually impaired,” said Carl R. Augusto, AFB president and CEO. “We designed this app to complement the iPhone’s other popular features, like web browsing and email, so that users who are blind have all the tools they need in one, handy device.”

A traditional notetaker is a portable electronic device that enables users who are blind or visually impaired to take notes, create documents, and access applications. These devices, extremely valuable for people who are blind or visually impaired, usually provide either speech or braille output (or both). They retail for upwards of $2,000 and much more for those with a built-in braille display; AFB’s AccessNote app is available for $19.99.

In addition to being a low-cost alternative to traditional notetakers, AccessNote allows users to combine efficient notetaking with many other features and functions of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This allows people who are blind or visually impaired to use the same popular devices that their sighted peers are using in classroom or business settings.

This is the first notetaking app developed and designed specifically for users with vision loss. AFB evaluated many of the other available notetaking apps, but found none to be very efficient or user-friendly to people who are blind or visually impaired.

What sets the AccessNote apart includes:

  • Seamless Navigation. Customized keyboard commands make notetaking more intuitive and productive than ever before, including quick access to important features like Search All Notes, Search Within a Note, as well as several navigation options.
  • Automatic Saving. With an automatic save on every few keystrokes, notes will never be lost.
  • Cursor tracking. When navigating among multiple sets of notes, users can always pick up right where they left off.
  • Unparalleled Simplicity. With a clutter-free interface, users can create, read, find, and sync, making it easier to spend more time with actual content and less time with tools.
  • DropBox Integration. All notes, always on hand. DropBox keeps AccessNote in sync with the user’s desktop (and other devices) so their notes are always available and backed up.
  • Compatibility with Bluetooth keyboards. AccessNote is optimized for efficiency with the Apple Wireless Keyboard and for today’s wireless braille displays.

AccessNote was developed in conjunction with FloCo Apps and is available on the App Store℠.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB’s priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.

AARP’s 2013 Almanac, a free E-book

Written By: Guest Contributor - Jan• 22•13

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Be in-the-know in 2013: Get AARP’s 2013 Almanac! A free E-book with facts, figures and forecasts for the year.

AARP’s inaugural Almanac is packed with facts, figures and forecasts relevant to people 50+. With dozens of categories, this treasure trove features—

  • a look ahead at the key issues and happenings expected in 2013
  • a look back at 50th anniversaries, including President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech
  • ways to save money this year, including places to get free stuff (from good-for-you yoga classes to decadent doughnuts) as well as sales tax holidays and seasonal best buys
  • tips for staying healthy, from power foods to delicious recipes to the screenings you need this year
  • movie, TV, and music trivia, with Billboard top hits, M*A*S*H* memories and all-time classic flicks
  • great vacation spots this year (don’t miss the monarch butterflies before global warming changes their patterns!) as well as film festivals, book fairs and food festivals nationwide
  • deadlines, new laws and Supreme Courts cases that could affect you and your family

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GET THIS BOOK!

SeniorNet needs your help: A letter from the Chairman

Written By: Guest Contributor - Jan• 18•13

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 10.10.53 AMAs SeniorNet reaches the end of our 26th year, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support over the past years. It is only with help from people like you that SeniorNet has been able to fulfill our mission (enhancing the lives of older adults and those with a need of computer training and technology education).
Look at some of what we accomplished in 2012:

  • We opened new centers
    • Quinault Indian Reservation, Learning Center, WA
    • Second Union Baptist Church, Learning Center, Washington D.C.
    • An International Research Center for product and services for those “50 years old and better”, Brooklyn, New York.
  • SeniorNet Social Media was created to extend education and awareness
    • Our blog:  Social Media Scoop for Seniors
    • SeniorNet on Facebook
    • SeniorNet on Twitter
  • We launched new partnerships
    • GrandMentor Program, giving members the opportunity to volunteer by reading to underserved elementary school children via Skype.
    • Vistaprint, providing logo’d marketing collateral to SeniorNet Centers to increase their awareness in their local communities.
  • New Membership benefits/discounts with more new partners  ( Holiday Membership Benefits )
    • Telikin, all-in-one, easy-to-use touchscreen computers designed with seniors in mind offers significant product discounts to our entire membership. The Telikin has been piloted in centers with seniors that are impaired and the feedback has been fantastic.
    • Clarity (division of Plantronics), provided new amplified cellphones designed uniquely for seniors to SeniorNetleaders and is offering holiday discounts to SeniorNet
    • Pearson QUE Publishing, one of the largest computer book publishers in the world, offers special discounts and tutorial reference products to our centers and members.

As you know, the world is becoming increasingly connected through the internet, and it is more important than ever before for seniors to know essential computer skills. To this point – with the support of our strategic partners, we were able to provide the latest Microsoft and Adobe software to our centers, as well as SeniorNet‘s user-friendly curriculum (student instruction) for all ages.

We know you receive many requests for donations, and we know your money is important to you. Please take a moment to consider helping us to make a difference.

Please know that any contribution from you, large or small, will go a long way empowering seniors and those that need new technology skills.

Go to SeniorNet.org and click on Donate Today!
Or mail your check/money order to:
SeniorNet
12801 Worldgate Drive
Suite 500
Herndon, VA 20170

Remember, SeniorNet is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and any donation you make is fully tax-deductible!

We have a lot planned for 2013 and hope you will continue supporting SeniorNet‘s mission.

Thank you again for your loyalty and dedication over the past years.
Sincerely,
Leslie Smith signature
Leslie M. Smith
SeniorNet Chairman

Best Resources for Senior Discounts

Written By: Guest Contributor - Jan• 16•13

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Jim T. Miller of SavvySenior.org is full of great tips and advice for seniors. Recently, he wrote an article in the Huffington Post about how to find discounts if you’re 50 or older. Here are a few highlights we thought SMSS (Social Media Scoop for Seniors) readers might like!

One of the great perks of growing older in the U.S. is the many discounts that are available to boomers and seniors. If you don’t mind admitting your age, here are some tips and tools to help you find them.

Always Ask
The first thing to know is that not all businesses advertise them, but many give senior discounts just for asking, so don’t ever be shy to ask. You also need to know that while some discounts are available as soon as you turn 50, many others may not kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65.

Search Online
Because senior discounts are constantly changing and can vary greatly depending on where you live and the time of the year, the Internet is one of your best resources for locating them.

To get started go to SeniorDiscounts.com, a massive website that lists more than 250,000 discounts on a wide variety of products and services like airlines, car rentals, travel, recreation, local transportation, shopping, restaurants, hotels, state and national parks, medical services, pharmacies, museums and more. You can search for discounts by city and state or ZIP code, or by the category you’re interested in, for free. Or, for $13 you can become a premium member and get additional, select discounts.

Another great website for locating 50-and-older discounts is Sciddy.com. Launched in 2011, this site also lets you search for free by city, state or ZIP code, as well as by business or category.

Join a Club
Another good avenue to senior discounts is through membership organizations like AARP, which offers its 50 and older members a wide variety of discounts through affiliate businesses (see discounts.aarp.org). Annual AARP membership fees are $16, or less if you join for multiple years.

If, however, you’re not a fan of AARP, there are other alternative organizations you can join that also provide discounts such as The Seniors Coalition or the American Seniors Association. Or, for federal workers, there’s the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

Click here to read the full article on Huffington Post.

 

Tech-Savvy Boomers Must Keep Privacy, Security in Mind

Written By: Guest Contributor - Jan• 08•13

The baby boomer generation has always been open to change, a characteristic that is still evident as they enter their senior years. Today’s older adults are eager to stay on pace with their younger counterparts in terms of technology, which is why many assisted livingcommunities offer internet access and classes for residents who want to keep up with the latest gadgets. But a new study from AVG Technologies finds that while boomers have embraced technology, many are uninformed about basic security and privacy techniques to keep their identities safe.

Researchers interviewed a group of 1,300 adults between the ages of 46 and 64 about their use of technology and the measures they have taken to keep their devices safe. They found that the majority of older adults own desktop computers, and 61 of them percent use laptops. Around 30 percent of baby boomers own a smartphone, and 20 percent shop online using a tablet computer.

Unfortunately, older adults may be missing out on some of the opportunities the web offers to help protect their identities and keep finances secure. Around 65 percent of respondents said they don’t check their online banking statements more than once a week. Keeping an eye on bank statements can help seniors identify fraudulent purchases quickly.

Seniors who use mobile devices should also take steps to keep ward off viruses, hackers and identity theft. Around 60 percent of survey respondents said they don’t use a password to protect their cell phone, and another 20 percent said they have shared their password with at least one other person.

Baby boomers must be especially careful when it comes to technology safety, as they can be seen as targets by scammers.

-Click here to read full story-

Sunrise Senior Living’s unique resident-centered services are delivered by a team trained to encourage the independence, preserve the dignity, enable freedom of choice and protect the privacy of each resident we serve. This approach is what enables us to continue championing quality of life for all seniors — it’s been our mission since 1981 and it’s what has made Sunrise one of the premier providers of senior living services.

 

Love at First Click: 8 Tips for Finding Love Online

Written By: Kim Hong - Dec• 23•12

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Have you considered finding love or companionship via an online dating site? Whether you are 21 or 61, if you are meeting a potential partner through an online dating site you must take safety precautions.

We used to think the only way to meet Mr./Ms. Right was in college, on the job, or through family and friends. Today, more and more people are meeting their partners through online dating — especially if they’re over 50. Numerous studies have found that older adults are the fastest growing segment of online-dating services.

So if you’re looking for love, this can be an ideal option. Here are some tips from AARP for efficient, effective and safe online dating:

  • Be sure you’re ready. If you’re not ready to date, you simply aren’t in a position to find a healthy relationship. To do so, you need to feel reasonably happy and confident of your worth. If you’re still angry or hurt from a past relationship, wait a bit. You need to feel positive, open and up for an adventure. If you’re having trouble getting to the right mental space, you might consider seeing a therapist.
  • Do your homework. There are all kinds of online dating sites, so spend some time on the computer researching what looks best for you. Decide if you’re interested in a “pay to play” or one that’s free. (You are probably safer using a pay site since everyone has to use their credit card and provide identification.) Of the pay sites, match.com is the biggest, but there are all kinds of boutique services if you’d prefer to better target your dream date.
  • Enlist your friends. Ask for help when you’re choosing a picture and filling out a profile form that tells potential dates who you are. You need an objective eye on this. You might think it’s a great picture, but maybe your friend doesn’t. Trust your friend. You may think your short rendition about yourself is enticing — but maybe it comes off as arrogant or too timid, or has too much about your kids and not enough about you. Give it to a few friends to review.
  • Avoid clichés in your profile. You will discover why when you read what others write about themselves. There are just too many people out there who “like long walks on the beach” or “enjoy theater, fine restaurants and exotic travel.” Whatever you write, make sure it expresses the goals, values and lifestyle choices that make you distinct.
  • Don’t limit your options. Be judicious about how you answer questions about what you’re looking for in a partner. Some sites ask about your “deal breakers,” that is things you absolutely don’t want. If you make your list of do’s and don’ts too long, it will limit the possibilities. So only put seriously disqualifying or absolutely necessary things in that list. (For example, ditch the requirement that he has at least a master’s degree but keep the one that says he can’t be a smoker).
  • Stay safe. When you find someone you are interested in — or someone finds you — exercise caution. At least initially, talk on your mobile phone instead of your home phone, which can be linked to your address. For a first date, meet in a safe public place — a coffee shop is ideal. Until you know the person better and are confident he is who he claims to be, don’t let a date drive you anywhere or even walk you to your car if it’s a secluded place. Though most people are honest and well-meaning, you shouldn’t take any risks at all.
  • Take your time. One of the advantages to online dating — meeting people you never would have met otherwise — is also a disadvantage. Since the people you meet are coming from outside your network, you don’t know people who can vouch for them.  So you need to be super cautious.  Don’t automatically trust everything your date tells you, no matter how sincere he or she may seem.  It takes time to be really sure that this person is who he says he is — and that he’s being honest about his intentions.  On that topic, you should be honest about what you’re looking for in terms of a relationship, too. Some online daters are only out for a good time, while others (the majority, I believe) are looking for a serious relationship.
  • Be resilient. It may take a while to meet Mr. or Ms. Right. Some people are lucky right off the bat: They meet that perfect someone quickly, the feelings are mutual, and the relationship gets serious. Many more people, though, don’t have that kind of luck: They meet many people who don’t interest them or who don’t show any interest. It can take many, many coffee shop dates before you find someone who is right for you. Still, it’s worth it. If you think of these dates as an opportunity to expand your social life, you will find that you can enjoy the coffee — even if the person has no long-term prospects. But if you stick it out and keep trying, you eventually find that very special someone.

For more tips about online dating, visit www.aarp.org and click on the Home & Family section!

Before Thanksgiving, make a gift to fight senior hunger

Written By: Kim Hong - Nov• 19•12

Last year, UnitedHealthcare employees volunteered at events designed to eradicate senior hunger in southern California. As part of the “Do Good. Live Well.” volunteer initiative, employees packed food boxes at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. In addition to the volunteer projects, UnitedHealthcare offices in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas will be hosting food drives. Both of these “Do Good. Live Well.” volunteer events are in support of AARP’s Drive to End Hunger campaign, which seeks to end hunger among seniors.

 

Across the country, nearly 9 million older Americans struggle with hunger. Many must make the difficult choice between paying for food, medicine, or heat – a decision no one should have to make.

AARP Foundation is working to prevent hunger among older adults – this Thanksgiving and beyond – by connecting seniors with community resources, improving the quality of items at food banks, and more. But with winter approaching and new challenges in the year ahead, we urgently need more resources to continue this life-changing work.

For more information, visit AARP’s Drive to End Hunger and make your secure, tax-deductible donation today to help struggling seniors this holiday season!