Celebrating Our Seniors in a Digital Society

It is 7am and all is quiet outside except for a few birds chirping; a typical Canadian morning. But inside, my two year old son is eating his breakfast omelette and chatting animatedly with my in-laws, his Aba and Aaji (grandfather and grandmother) about his Halloween adventures the night before. My in-laws are listening and watching him intently while sipping their afternoon chai tea under their verandah in Pune, India, where it is 4pm. The faint sounds of rickshaws honking fade in the background.

As a young mother of an energetic toddler I am thankful for technology that enables these sweet morning rituals. Not only does this virtual “baby-sitting” give me time to prepare my day, but more importantly it allows my son to connect and bond with his grandparents on a personal level in circumstances where it  would have been geographically impossible. Many fragile seniors today do not share the same privilege and many live in insolation from their families without access to technology or fearful of it. In light of this, I am thankful to have celebrated National Seniors Day (October 1, 2017) this year by promoting digital literacy among seniors as a TELUS WISE Ambassador for the TELUS WISE Seniors program.

Throughout the month of October, my colleagues – Pawan Kullar and Shaili Avasthi – and I volunteered as TELUS WISE Ambassadors attending National Senior Days events through the region of Peel in Ontario. These events were organized by Peel Senior Link, a not-for-profit organization that provides home making and personal care services to over 300 vulnerable seniors living in the cities of Mississauga and Brampton. We ended the month off by hosting a TELUS WISE Booth at the 2017 Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) Conference; the largest and most representative home and community support conference in Ontario.

Our journey started off in the beginning of October and at each event we heard personal accounts from seniors being impacted by online scams and financial fraud. We listened as seniors shared how these experiences made them feel ashamed and led them to lose confidence and trust in technology. What was once a tool to help connect isolated seniors with their families, technology was being viewed as something to fear – leaving some seniors to abandon technology altogether.

When we presented and spoke to seniors one-on-one about the TELUS Wise Seniors Program this brought renewed hope to those that were previously scammed. They now understood that they were not alone and that armed with the right digital literacy, they could reap the benefits of technology. At the OCSA Conference, when speaking to individuals working in the industry supporting seniors, we received an overwhelmingly positive response. Organizations were eager to learn about how they could integrate the TELUS WISE Seniors program within their own seniors programming and others shared how pleased they were to hear that a telco was providing this much needed program free of charge. Such positive feedback made us proud to be part of the TELUS family.

I hope more seniors will embrace technology in their lives. Technology has improved the quality of life for the seniors in my family, allowing them to stay socially connected with their family members abroad. It has enabled my son to not only stay connected to a part of his culture but to also catch a glimpse of a different part of the world in the comfort of our home every day. While there are some risks, digital literacy is paramount for embracing technology in a safe and secure way. The TELUS Wise Seniors program can provide this foundational skill.

To learn more about the TELUS WISE Seniors Program – click here.