A Passing for Working with Older Adults
Norman’s involvement with older adults started a while back when he had many people in his family who needed help in the later stages of their lives.
“I realized that I had a deep interest and skill in working with older adults, so I decided to continue to do this moving forward.”
Norman quickly realized that not everyone that likes to volunteer likes to work with older adults.
“I think it reminds them about what life might be like when they get older. Some people may find that depressing but not everyone will feel that way. Many older adults are quite inspiring. However, many people shy away from working with seniors — they want to put it on a shelf until a later time.”
Inspiration Abounds in Older Adults
However, Norman found inspiration and his niche with older adults. Through his work with Dorot he helped to start a volunteer tech coaching program for seniors. These tech coaches went to people’s homes and helped older adults learn how to use their smartphones. It was going very successfully until the pandemic hit.
“Clients can really learn these things even those who thought they couldn’t do it. Once they get over the initial discomfort, they are happy to have new ways to be in touch with others, especially for those with few family members and friends.”
Initially, the program focused on helping seniors with basic tools like text, call, and email along with many other apps that users take for granted. Norman prepared guides, containing detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures on every page, which were provided as a reference to both volunteers and clients.
“GetSetUp’s model is terrific since it helps older adults to learn and gives them an opportunity to teach and share knowledge. I had never seen an organization as focused on education opportunities for older adults as much as GetSetUp. So if you want to teach you can teach, and if you want to learn you could learn.”
Norman hopped on right away and quickly became a GetSetUp Ambassador taking multiple classes from the site’s offerings and attending multiple Social Hours.
“I started with Deb’s cooking class [Great Meals in 30 Minutes or Less] — that has turned out to be a popular class. Since the pandemic started, many organizations have offered virtual classes, but what makes GetSetUp distinctive is that it focuses on older adults on both sides — as teachers and participants. GetSetUp provides content on many different interests, both tech and non-tech related, to give people a chance to get together and have a connection.”
GetSetUp is creating a community for older adults to have access to economic opportunities, learning opportunities, and socialization opportunities.
“ I really like to learn — I don’t spend time watching television. I prefer to read, and the opportunity to access so many educational opportunities online brings education to a whole new level.”
In fact, Norman only has a TV because of an ex-girlfriend who wanted to watch it. He prefers to spend his time learning, taking pictures of beautiful places, and reading.
“The classes I would especially recommend are those on photography. I have an interest in nature photography so there are a few classes to take better photos using your phone. It brings me much pleasure to focus on looking for beauty. When you go out and get used to taking pictures on a regular basis, you start to notice things that you wouldn’t normally — even if you aren’t artistic.”
It is not just the classes that set GetSetUp apart but the Guides make a warm impression.
“I haven’t met all the Guides yet, but I attended a lot of sessions by Wade. He is very adaptable. I’ve done teaching, so I know you have to be flexible as you don’t know what to expect. Wade has a nice presence in how he manages to shift gears when needed based on people in the class. You can tell he knows the content.”
Guides are experts in the class topics, while volunteers guide discussion topics for Social Hours. Norman not only took lots of classes of his interest but he attended a number of Virtual Senior Social Hours.
“In the Social Hours, people get together to socialize. They are for people who want to meet people and share experiences. It is nice to get to know people from around the world.”
Aligned with the GetSetUp Mission of Life Long Learning and Supporting Older Adults
Norman loved the GetSetUp mission so much that he applied to work for GetSetUp. Norman was hired to join the GetSetUp team as the Customer Success Manager responsible for managing partner accounts and assuring relationships.
Joining the GetSetUp team “is a very different experience for me. Most recently, I worked for an organization that has been around for 40 years, and I’ve worked with nonprofits for 20 years. Working for a new company is a different experience — on the one hand it is risky since you don’t know what it will bring. On the other hand, since many of us have joined the company recently, we are growing and learning together. It has been a wonderful experience.”
More importantly, though Norman feels especially lucky to be joining the team.
“Having the opportunity to do good work like this when so many are struggling is wonderful. I feel very fortunate to be in a place I can be doing what I can to continue to serve older adults. It is really needed and rewarding. People are looking for that intellectual stimulation and that’s good.”
When the pandemic hit, Norman focused on keeping safe and away from congestion to keep his health. For several months, the local boardwalk near his house was shut down. So he took to exploring new places in his area and would drive 30 minutes away and exploring new places near water.
“I think virtual programming is going to be with us going forward, even when the pandemic ends. For many older adults, spending a lot of time at home is not unusual. When you stop working and you don’t have a reason to go out, it is nice to be able to attend classes from home. Online classes are very convenient and give people a chance to interact, so it combines learning with a social experience.”
First Norman joined the GetSetUp community as a participant, but then he realized he wanted to join the team! Now he’s helping to ensure other participants have his same excellent experience. Isn’t it time you check out a GetSetUp class?