Empowering Seniors through Tech: ACP and Digital Navigators Unleash Transformative Possibilities
Discover How Technology is Revolutionizing Senior Living and Well-being
In Monroeville, Pennsylvania, a 79-year-old retiree named Phyllis Jackson is proving that age is no barrier to embracing the digital era.
For Ms. Jackson, the internet and computers have become invaluable companions, enriching her life in ways she could have never imagined.
“Hello, my name is Phyllis Jackson,” she warmly introduces herself. “I’m a 79-year-old retiree living in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.
Over the years, I have found computers and the internet to be incredibly useful, even at my age. Learning how to use a computer and internet has made my life so much easier.” Ms. Jackson’s digital inclusion journey began with the help of two transformative programs—Computer Reach’s Digital Navigator Program and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). With the guidance, training and support of the Digital Navigator, she not only learned how to use computer devices but also discovered the endless possibilities the internet and digital skills can offer.
With her newfound digital skills, Ms. Jackson began integrating the internet into her daily life. “I have done a lot of online reading and writing,” she shares, “and even used it to look up recipes, receive emails from my doctor, search for information about the medication prescribed by my doctor.” The internet’s convenience has become indispensable to her, as it serves as a direct line to essential health information and keeps her well-informed about her prescribed medications.
Beyond health-related tasks, email has become a critical part of Ms. Jackson’s life. “Email has also become a necessity for me,” she explains, “since the management in my living facility now relies on it for notices and updates.” Through email, she stays connected with her community and receives essential announcements. Living on a fixed income, Ms. Jackson acknowledges that the internet is a key tool for budgeting and her finances overall. “Moreover, I can use the internet to keep track of my rent and water bill payments,” she notes, “It gives me peace of mind to be able to monitor my expenses and ensure the correct amounts are deducted from my account.”
But the internet’s value to Ms. Jackson goes far beyond the realm of practicality. She passionately believes that one of its most significant benefits is the ability to learn new things. “For instance,” she shares enthusiastically, “I always wanted to learn how to play bridge.
Thanks to the computer and internet access, I was able to pick up the game and join a local group.” The internet’s vast array of information has also allowed her to explore various topics, from foreign languages to religious texts, thereby creating a sense of continuous growth and mental stimulation.
However, Ms. Jackson’s path to digital inclusion wasn’t without its challenges. Financial constraints once threatened her access to the internet. “At first, I was hesitant to have internet service at home because of the expense,” she recalls. But her concerns were alleviated when she discovered the Affordable Connectivity Program through Computer Reach. “Thanks to the Affordable Connectivity Program,” she joyfully shares, “I now have affordable access to the internet in the privacy of my own home. This has been life-changing for me.” Gone are the days of relying on public computers or walking long distances to access the internet.
Reflecting on the impact of the internet on her life, Ms. Jackson emphasizes the importance of digital inclusion programs for seniors. “I believe access to the internet is essential for older individuals like myself,” she says. “It keeps us informed, engaged, and mentally stimulated.” Grateful for the opportunities these programs have provided her, Ms. Jackson urges for their continued support and expansion. “I cannot stress enough how crucial it is for programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program and the Digital Navigator Program to be funded and expanded,” she passionately states. “Without them, many seniors like me would struggle to afford access to vital resources.”
Her story stands as a testament to the power of technology in transforming lives and connecting communities.
by Will Perez, Digital Inclusion Director