Words of Wisdom – Inspired’s residents offer tips on the best ways of using modern technology

From Zoom exercise classes to virtual bedtime stories, Inspired residents across the country have been using technology to their advantage. Whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family (which some say has made them closer than ever!) or keeping their mind and bodies active with online classes, residents are proving that it’s never too late to learn new skills.

Earlier this year, we commissioned a survey to find out what over 65s think today. The results found that 80% of respondents feel confident using modern technology like smart phones and tablets, with Facebook being the most popular social media platform (58%), followed by WhatsApp (35%).

The survey also found that 51% of respondents don’t think over 65s and the younger generations are communicating with each other as well as they could be and 78% blame social media for this disconnect, citing that the younger generations prefer to communicate through social media, WhatsApp and text rather than speaking over the phone or in person. However, Inspired residents have found key ways to harness technology and social media to interact with younger generations.

Video calls and virtual hugs

Residents Krys Badger, 73, and her husband Doug, 71, of Great Alne Park, have been embracing technology to stay connected with their family throughout the  pandemic. Krys comments: “We started doing video calls with our granddaughters, Alice, eight, and Charlotte, five, during Covid-19 because their parents were working from home, and home-schooling. We offered to try to ease that a bit.

“We have the video calls three times a week on WhatsApp or FaceTime, using our iPad or iPhone. It started as bedtime stories, and the girls show us their dances and sing. We even came up with the idea of putting photos of Alice and Charlotte on cushions, so we can give them a ‘virtual’ cuddle at the end of our chats.

“We’ve been having video chats on Houseparty, too, which is good for young children because there are some games on there. And because Alice and Charlotte both enjoy singing, I’ve been teaching them songs by The Seekers. You have to be imaginative when video calling with children.”

Baking and virtual bingo

Liz MacLaren, 74, and her husband Andrew, 75, of Millbrook say it was ‘an absolute joy’ to be able to help one of their six grandchildren learn to read via video calls during lockdown. Liz comments: “We FaceTime all the grandchildren quite often and have had Zoom video calls with our family during lockdown, especially with our grandson Archie, aged five. He’s been reading his schoolbooks to us and he went up one or two levels during the lockdown, so that was a great use of Zoom.

“Our grandchildren have also used FaceTime to show us what they’ve baked, such as bread. We have quite a lot of interaction with them.

“Technology has helped us to stay in touch. It’s allowed us to do things as a family, including a bingo session on Zoom, which the grandchildren could join in with. Our grandchildren are aged between four and 12, and all four of our family’s households were able to take part in the bingo at the same time.

“With FaceTime and Zoom we can have face-to-face contact, which is so much better than a telephone conversation.”

A youngest family member’s first steps

Thanks to technology, John Radford, 78, and his wife Jean, 75, of Austin Heath, didn’t miss out when one of their great-grandchildren took their first steps. Jean comments: “We’ve not been able to see our family as much as we’d like because of Covid-19, but Facebook and FaceTime have really helped because you can see each other’s faces. We saw our great-granddaughter walk for the first time because the video was put on Facebook, which was great.”

John adds: “We use social media when we want to use it. We don’t find ourselves glued to it. I also believe that when you get together with your family and friends, you don’t want to be on your phone. Talking to someone is an art.”

Zoom exercise classes

For Veronica Pert, 65, of Millbrook, Inspired’s online exercise classes, as well as YouTube workouts and regular walks have helped her feel fitter than ever. Veronica comments: “I’ve been using Zoom for virtual exercise classes at Millbrook, such as ‘stretch and tone’ with wellness navigator Leah Jackson. Before Covid-19, I attended the actual classes, so using Zoom has helped the residents to continue taking part through the pandemic.

“I’ve also been using YouTube to keep fit, including Joe Wicks’ free exercise sessions for seniors. At the beginning of the lockdown I was doing his workouts every day.

“Regarding other technology, both my husband George and I have smartphones and Kindles, and I have a laptop I’ve been using for years. But I think young people rely on tech too much. They’re on social media all the time and that can have a negative effect on a lot of them. Face-to-face interaction is important.”

Virtual Village Centre

Whether you’re an Inspired resident or not, we’d love for you to join our Virtual Village Centre on Facebook. This resource, available to everyone, provides home exercise videos created by the villages’ wellness navigators, recipes from our head chefs, gardening tips from our Head of Horticulture and much more to help keep you entertained throughout lockdown.

Jean Radford comments: “We’ve both been using Inspired’s Virtual Village Centre on Facebook. TV fitness instructor Mr Motivator was at Austin Heath recently for an exercise class, which I did. The class was filmed and put on the Virtual Village Centre.”

Veronica Pert adds: “I’ve been using WhatsApp, Zoom, and I check on Facebook every day. I also follow Inspired’s Virtual Village Centre on Facebook. I like the recipes and free exercise classes that are put on there.”

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