How PSS Centers Use GetSetUp to Enhance the Lives of Older Adults
A Gateway to Lifelong Learning for Older Adults
Blanca Vargas, one of two full-time in-person Computer & Mobile Instructors at the 10 Presbyterian Senior Services (PSS) centers throughout the Bronx and Harlem in New York City, advocates for GetSetUp as an excellent opportunity for older adults to learn new things and stay engaged.
Blanca is hands-on with the students and takes a personal interest in introducing them to the platform. She shows them how to sign up, navigate the site, and find classes that interest them. Sometimes, she also acts as a translator, helping Spanish-speaking learners understand a travel class.
As Blanca said, "Many classes, even though they are in English, can still be used in different languages with a facilitator. The travel classes are great for this and spark discussions."
Different Centers, Different Interests
Blanca notes that different centers have different interests and preferences when it comes to GetSetUp classes. In one of her centers, which has a significant Spanish-speaking population, she introduced two Spanish-language classes on exercise and found that everyone loved them. She also noticed that the center's residents enjoyed cooking classes, arts and crafts, and photography classes. The class on African American influencers and investors was particularly popular, and residents asked for more classes in this vein.
"Generally, I put classes up on the screen. I'm managing the laptop, and participants sit in the cafeteria to participate or watch the presentation. Throughout that time, I'm talking to them as well, giving them more information, asking if they have questions they want me to ask, and keeping the engagement active."
Blanca's personal approach to augmenting GetSetUp instructors to the older adults in her center is key to their success with the platform. She helps them navigate the site, shows them how to access classes that interest them, and encourages them to participate. For those who are hesitant to use the site, Blanca makes it easy by demonstrating how to use it and teaching them not to be afraid.
"In another center, I might put GetSetUp on the screen and look for something of interest to the group.Then they have their tablets and phones, and some join the same class from their device, and others find a different class that interests them more. But we learn together as a group."
GetSetUp is More Than Just Classes
One of the benefits of GetSetUp is that it provides more than just classes.The platform is also a gateway to social activities and engagement. Seniors can participate in virtual game nights, trivia, and other events that help them stay connected with others around the world. Blanca notes that one center's residents particularly enjoyed a movie and music trivia class that was lively and engaging.
"Participants finish their breakfast, then join the GetSetUp fitness class on the big screen. I guide them and remind them to pace themselves. I let them know that they can sit down if they need to rest or do it slower at their own pace. While the GetSetUp Guide says this, it's good to have me reminding them that it's for their benefit to help them stay mobile and keep their muscles moving."
Technology can be a Barrier, but GetSetUp makes it Easy
Blanca notes that some seniors are hesitant to use technology and need guidance to get started. She helps them feel more comfortable by showing them how to use the site and teaching them not to be afraid of pressing buttons. Blanca notes that some members have tablets and phones, while others have received devices from PSS, the state or local government organizations.
“GetSetUp is easy to use on different types of devices. For example, here today there was a member who loves GetSetUp. Once I showed her how to navigate, she’s gone on to sign up for more classes on nutrition and getting more tech-savvy. Now she navigates and does it on her own. A few different members do classes on their own, but others like to engage when you engage them in the class and explain it further to them. Sometimes this is because they don’t know how to navigate technology, and they are afraid to press a button and mess everything up. I try to make it easy and teach them not to be afraid.”
Through Blanca’s experience, she’s seen that normally learners need a few times to master concepts and lots of patience.
“You need to show them more than 4 times, and you need to speak slowly. They apologize often because they are taking up my time. But I tell them my time is to help them. Even if it takes an hour to teach them to send an email, I’ll do it.”
Blanca has also used the site to help herself learn more.
“I sat down and took the Gmail class and took notes. I learned how to use lots of benefits and features I hadn’t been aware of before.”
GetSetUp provides a much-needed gateway to lifelong learning and social engagement for older adults that will continue to be important in the years to come to stay connected, learn new things, and engage in social activities. Due to the positive impact GetSetUp has had over the past years, PSS will be awarding GetSetUp the fourth annual Impact Award for leadership in positive aging, established by its “Coming of Age” program, which inspires people 50 and older to live with passion and purpose.