Program Teaches Seniors How to Navigate the Digital World and Keep Up With Loved Ones

A group of seniors in Southern California is diving into the unfamiliar to connect with their families, friends and younger generations

Thanksgiving weekend tends to be a time where most people connect with family and friends. And, for those not living near family members, technology is often used to keep in touch.

Some adults might feel like they're falling behind when it comes to technology -- victims of a digital divide. They didn't grow up with tablets, apps, online banking and social media.

But there's a group of seniors in Southern California that's diving into the unfamiliar to connect with their families, friends and younger generations.

"I'm learning about technology and money, a lot of things I didn't know about," DeDe Sanders said. "I like to share, we share a lot of pictures. You don't have to wait to go to the drug store to have them developed."

Sanders is among dozens taking this "Money and Tech" course at St. Barnabas Senior Services.

Chad Finley is the project director, he only teaches those with zero to little experience. Some have told him it feels like technology has passed them by.

"It affects their physical, emotional, and mental well being, that's what this program is about," Finley said.

Finely said they take their time teaching technology, making sure every student is comfortable before moving on to the next step. It is about new communication skills, protecting your money, saving your time and it starts with separating fact from fiction.

"All the myths are dispelled like 'I touch a device and I'm suddenly going to get hacked,'" Finley said.

If one student gets stuck, they all work together to navigate their way out of that problem.

"By the end of class a light bulb goes off," Finley said. "Oh my God, you can see their confidence and posture rise, like, 'Ok, I can do this.'"

Rigo Saborio is the president of St. Barnabas Senior Services and he agrees with Finley.

"It is empowering and opening up their world, technology transforms lives" Saborio said.

Citibank is not only a partner of the program but a believer in it as well.

"This is fabulous, seeing the enthusiasm, the focus, the attention," Rashi Kallur, vice president of Citibank, said.

The effort and initiative pays off by the end of class. The students can now connect with family and friends anytime, anywhere.

"I learned to video chat because my family is everywhere," said Sanders.

Students leave the class being able to bank online and more.

"I went on Twitter, this is great," said Sanders.

The president of St. Barnabas Senior Services said he hopes to get the word out to be able to grow this program so that one day thousands of older adults can take the course. But they need more public, nonprofit and for profit partners. Contact St. Barnabas Senior Services for more information on how to help spread the word.

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