SAN ANTONIO -- Word is spreading quickly about a program aimed at helping seniors navigate a world of Wi-Fi and social media.
- Senior Planet sessions
- Part of Older Adults Technology Services
- Seniors signing up months in advance
Seniors call it “aging with attitude.”
Jesse Valdez is proving he can keep up with a younger crowd with the help of a Senior Planet session. The class is part of a program called OATS, or Older Adults Technology Services. Seniors visit Humana neighborhood locations to learn basics, like how to connect to the internet. Valdez signed up for three classes. He says he wants to stop contributing to the stereotype.
"That we're not really viable anymore in terms of learning new things," he said. He’s working to prove them wrong.
The program isn't new. OATS started in 2004 in New York City. But in recent years, it's spread to cities across the country, thanks to more funding.
Instructor Karly Dallas says seniors do own devices--they just need help learning how to use them.
"They all have smartphones. We teach apps. They can take that home today and they can start following YouTube videos. They can look up recipes and they can start doing things that impact the quality of their life now," she said.
The free classes are offered at 30 locations across San Antonio. Seniors are rushing to sign up.
"A lot of the classes I teach, I have a wait list and I have people signing up two or three months in advance," said Dallas.
The AARP says studies show greater technology use was associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic conditions, and reduced feelings of loneliness among older Americans. For Valdez, information is power.
"In my case, I have health issues. It helps me research some of the things the doctors are telling me. It helps me look ahead. It helps me look into the different prescriptions that I'm getting," said Valdez.
Classes like these teach him how to access that information. There are a few other benefits, too.
"The free coffee is wonderful. Every time we check in, whenever I scan my card, I always call it my frequent coffee-drinking miles. Wonderful. Wonderful. Can't beat it with a stick," said Valdez. "It's great being my age. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
The program is open to anyone age 60 and older. You don’t have to be a Humana member to participate.