Older Adults Like Mary Ellen Z. Are Going To Great Lengths To Digitally Connect

Ambassadors Jul 15, 2021

The sky literally fell on Mary Ellen when her ceiling collapsed in her house. Knowing that she couldn’t get it repaired quick enough she moved in temporarily with her 96-year-old mother.

“I had to learn how to move my internet connection from my condo to my mother’s. When I called to ask for help. The service just laughed and said I just had to unhook it and take it to my mother’s. That’s not an easy feat for someone with arthritis. But I learned how to do it by myself. It took several hours to get unhooked and reinstall the router. But it was successful.”

After the roof fell in it seemed only kismet that the first class on that Sunday Mary Ellen took on GetSetUp was a class on gratitude.

“This was just what I needed to hear considering my circumstances. It all goes back to having gratitude for where you are here and the things you have.”
Take A Gratitude Class
Live class on The Power of Gratitude
Learn new skills and meet new friends in The Power of Gratitude

Experiencing Firsts At Any Age In Spite of Ageism

Mary Ellen Ziegler braved a blizzard in January of this year to get a new phone. She wanted to be  assured she could be connected to others during the cold Chicago winter. It had taken her 5 years after smartphones came out to start to use a smartphone. She wasn’t into carrying around technology at first, though she later saw their benefits. At the Verizon store, she saw a similar Android to the one she had but she had always eyed the iPhone.

The salesgirl at the store said,

“You are kind of old for the iPhone. It might not be for you. It has a real learning curve.”

Mary Ellen brushed right past that ageism and went ahead and bought herself the iPhone 12 Pro.

“GetSetUp helped me understand the phone and my tablet thanks to their classes on the iPhone and iPad. I also had ordered an iPad during the blizzard. I had never before ordered anything online and had it delivered. The tablet was wonderful and easy to learn!”

She’s added to her technology by getting a magic keyboard and really enjoying all the apps available to help her expand her creativity.

Connecting and Reconnecting With New And Old Friends On GetSetUp

Mary Ellen and Rose both GetSetUp Ambassadors were able to meet up to bird watch and walk together!
“Everything is a learning experience. The classes are a lifesaver. Some of them I need to take over again but I’ve started meeting people through some of these classes on GetSetUp.”

Initially,  Mary Ellen was hesitant to take classes twice, but she realized the community was very welcoming. She even met one of her old friends in one of the classes and has started to really enjoy the new friends she’s made through the classes.

“We had so much fun laughing and catching up. Now we call each other several times a week and I have met someone else near me. We met up to walk and look for birds. Now thanks to GetSetUp I don’t have to worry about my shrinking circle of friends. Rather, my circle of friends is growing!”

Mary Ellen has also been able to share GetSetUp with friends across the country including one in Florida who recently lost her husband.

“I introduced her to another woman who had recently lost her husband near her in Florida and they started talking. Another friend of mine in Tampa has signed up too. It's really helped her by giving her a new community to be in contact with. Sometimes I come home and get a text from a friend about a class they are going to. I can then hop on to take classes with friends from all different states.”

One of the advantages of GetSetUp is you don’t have to worry if your friends have Facetime or specific apps and class gives a common topic to share about.

“I’m not really someone that likes to talk so this makes it better. You are involved in a class with a common interest and gives you a focus. You see everyone attending in the gallery view and it gives you a sense of being there. Then you can mute and unmute as you feel social.”

One of the regular classes that Mary Ellen enjoys participating in is Guide Scott’s Photography Challenge. She even won the ‘spring flowers” photography challenge.

“It really surprised me that I won. I just started taking pictures again in December.”

Her winning shot was of milkweeds that she took home and photographed every night in a different pose with her new camera.

Right now Mary Ellen says she’s on a creativity boom. She's learning more about photography and all the integrations her phone does with Google. Classes are exposing her to topics and ideas she didn’t know were possible and the one-hour time she believes is perfect for her to absorb just enough.

Photography Challenge
Live class on Photo Challenge of the Week
Learn new skills and meet new friends in Photo Challenge of the Week

Start Slow With Classes Anywhere And Anytime

Now that the weather is getting nicer she’s enjoying being outside, but it’s nice to know that when it's bad she can take a couple of classes. One such day she took 3 classes in a row and she was tired of sitting down so she then hopped on a qigong class to start moving!

Qigong class was wonderful and perfect for the end of the day when I hadn't moved.”
Take Qigong
Live class on Qigong for Beginners
Learn new skills and meet new friends in Qigong for Beginners

Plus she’s seen that as summer hits her fellow GetSetUp community members are sometimes logging in from phones as they walk or are enjoying the great outdoors.

Mary Ellen uses the skills she's learned to stay in touch with others. Sometimes that is through classes and other times it's through her images. She sends her mother and others pictures that she has taken. In a tough year, this has been one fun way of staying in touch with those she hasn’t been able to see.

“I wish I could get technology for everyone and put it in their hands. I would suggest that learners start slow and not let themselves get intimidated. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too old to learn it!  You have to pace yourself. Explore in small bites and give yourself time to move around. Even just a phone is a vital way to connect to others.”
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