When you are aging solo it can be hard to expand your circle, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Just because many older adults have families doesn’t always mean they have strong support systems.
“I was getting very bored and lonely. There is no real family around me and the people who are here have their own lives.”
Jane got herself a pandemic friend, her dog Auggie, but as much as a person can love a dog, that doesn’t fill the need for human contact. Prior to the pandemic, she participated in a book club and a current events group, but all that slowed down when lockdown hit.
So Jane turned to South Florida Institute on Aging (SoFIA) and her local senior resource center. They were giving tablets out to seniors with wifi and promoting their partnership with GetSetUp. She joined the orientation class to learn a bit more about GetSetUp and thought it sounded like fun to learn some new ideas, so she hopped into some classes to see what they were like.
“I was getting a little depressed. Now I’d rather be in class than doing my laundry, so it’s hard to find time to get it done!”
Jane quickly caught on and went from being bored to hopping from Zoom class to Zoom class on topics ranging from technology to travel.
“Classes make my day. I’ve met wonderful people. Everyone there is so happy!”
Jane quickly took over 150 classes in her first month as she enjoyed signing up for classes on a variety of topics.
“I’m interested in learning anything. In my job as a township administrator, I was learning every day. To tell you the truth, I have learned a lot. Being older, you don't know all these things like Tiktok and all the different programs that are connected with socializing.”
While Jane hasn’t started a Tiktok account just yet, it has been nice for her to understand what these different social media platforms are so she can be a part of the conversation. Next, she’s looking to understand both Android and iPhone platforms.
“Now I have something to look forward to. Connecting via Zoom, I have someone to talk to; before this, I almost wasn’t talking to anyone. Now I go to sleep thinking of the exciting classes I am taking tomorrow. ”
Now Jane is enjoying learning fun topics and meeting people with similar interests. She’s taken almost all of the art and museum classes. While she is enjoying the gardening group, she’s found her real niche in the travel classes.
“I wish I knew a lot of those things before traveling on past trips.”
“I learned a lot. I was doing it the wrong way to save money. Before I was doing it through travel agencies on the computer and they were taking a service charge.”
Best of all has been the opportunity to meet people with shared interests, including other like-minded travelers who may be interested in joining her on a trip to somewhere exotic. She’s thinking about France, Ireland, Russia, or perhaps even India, when international travel is deemed safe.
"I even met someone that I hope to go on a trip together with. Being a single woman and a single person you have to pay an extra fee to have a room by yourself. If my friend and I can share a room we can cut costs sharing a room so that money can go to the museums and other fun things.”
Having both classes with diverse teachers from around the world and the chance to meet with friends, it's no wonder that Jane is able to enjoy her time at home a bit more.
“Now I'm learning everything I wish I knew in my thirties!”
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Terri has given up TV to participate in live interactive classes on health, wellness, and more.
"I’m doing things that at 73 I never thought I would be doing!” said Susan.