A study commissioned by later living provider, Inspired Villages, found that 80% of over 65s are now confident using modern technology.
With the coronavirus lockdown and ongoing restrictions pulling families apart, there has never been a time when we have appreciated grandparents more. As the nation looks to celebrate National Grandparents Day on Sunday 4th October, a study by Inspired Villages has revealed just how much over 65s are now embracing technology and social media as well as offering an insight into just what it’s like for ‘Over 65s Today’.
From Zoom calls and reading bedtime stories over WhatsApp to challenging the family in Houseparty games and watching a great-grandchild walk for the first time on Facebook, grandparents are discovering how technology and social media can bring them closer to their families through the pandemic. So, it’s no surprise that 80% of over-65s have revealed they are confident about using modern technology such as smartphones and tablets, according to the new research.
The ‘Over 65s Today’ survey – unveiled in the run-up to Grandparents’ Day on Sunday 4th October – also shows that Facebook is the most popular social media platform for this age group (58%), followed by WhatsApp (35%). What’s more, almost half (43%) of over-65s say having grandchildren is one of the top three things they’re most looking forward to about ageing.
Residents at Inspired Villages’ later living communities around the UK are proving that being older is no barrier to using tech to stay connected to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren while Covid-19 restrictions keep them apart, it’s just about ensuring you use it the right way...
Krys Badger, 73, and her husband Doug, 71, of Great Alne Park, near Alcester, in Warwickshire, use WhatsApp for video chats three times a week with their granddaughters, Alice, eight, and Charlotte, five.
Krys said: “We read bedtime stories and chat to our granddaughters, and they show us their dances and sing. The video calls started during Covid-19 because their parents were working from home and home-schooling, so we offered to try to ease that a bit.”
The resourceful grandparents even came up with the idea of putting photos of their granddaughters on cushions, so they can give Alice and Charlotte a ‘virtual’ hug at the end of their chats.
And thanks to social media, John Radford, 78, and his wife Jean, 75, of Austin Heath in Warwick, didn’t miss out when one of their great-grandchildren took their first steps.
Jean said: “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.”
For Liz MacLaren, 74, and her husband Andrew, 75, of Millbrook Village in Exeter, it was an absolute joy for them to be able to help one of their grandchildren learn to read via video calls during the lockdown.
Liz said: “We FaceTime all the grandchildren quite often and have had Zoom video calls with our family during the lockdown, especially with our grandson Archie, aged five. He’s been reading his Oxford Owl reading books to us and he went up one or two levels during the lockdown – so that was a great use of Zoom.”
Research by the Office for National Statistics has suggested about 2.6million people were ‘chronically lonely’ in the early lockdown period from April 3 to May 3.*
The survey also asked participants what advice they would give their grandchildren, with answers including; “don’t trust politicians”, “always marry for love because whatever life brings, you will get through it as long as you love each other”, and “don’t worry until you drop just so you can have a big car and 3 or 4 foreign holidays – work-life balance is more important”. Indeed 57% of those surveyed said they wished they had concentrated more on family and friends and less on their career over their lifetime, with women more likely to agree that (59%). At Inspired Villages, the team has always been determined to ensure its residents never feel alone, so the staff have been using tech to help its communities stay connected throughout the pandemic and into the future.
The company – which owns and operates retirement villages around the UK, in partnership with Legal & General – has created a Virtual Village Centre on Facebook, featuring a wide range of content such as exercise videos, recipes and live music performances.
Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, said: “As an organisation, creating communities is at the core of what we do. During the lockdown, we were determined to make sure our residents never felt isolated or alone, and that they had access to a variety of activities to help keep their minds and bodies active.”
Commenting on the survey findings, Jamie added: “We know how important family is to our residents. So, it’s no surprise to us that many of them have been using technology and social media in such imaginative ways to stay close to their grandchildren throughout the pandemic.”
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