The pandemic has really highlighted what is really important and necessary in life: Social Connections. As human beings, we know that being able to socialize with friends, family, and others keeps us happy and mentally stimulated. Conversely, the social isolation that we have all felt by being stuck at home and unable to participate in our favorite social activities leads to anxiety, depression, and can contribute to poor health.
Unfortunately, as the pandemic winds down, social isolation for many older adults will not completely go away. In rural counties like ours, many older adults can become socially isolated as they start to get older and are dealing with more health problems that make it difficult to get out and about in the community. Maybe their spouse dies or they give up driving. Without a car and limited transportation options, it can be a challenge to do essentials like doctor visits and grocery shopping, let alone be involved with a social club or community activities.
That is why I am very excited to announce the launch of new online learning platform for older adults through the NY State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) and our member organization, AgingNY, called GetSetUp. Through our Chautauqua County Office for Aging (OFAS), older adults in the county can have access to more than 300 different course options specifically developed for older adults. These are live classes, not pre-recorded videos, where you can safely interact with other older adults. Additionally, all guides and instructors are retired educators/professionals/technologists, promoting economic empowerment, healthy lifestyles, and a purpose driven life. Instructors are trained to help older adults learn by doing, not just watching. Learners are also encouraged to become creators by leading their own interest groups.
GetSetUp classes are organized into four broad categories: 1) Digital Divide/Connectivity: This is an orientation to Zoom and how to use various devices; 2) Physical Health: Includes classes like Tai Chi, Yoga, and Healthy Cooking; 3) Mental Health: Learning to handle stress, meditation, dementia, or cope with the pressures of caregiving; and 4) Social Health: Including book clubs, gardening, pets, travel and brain games. The GetSetUp platform offers more than 40 classes each weekday and more than 10 classes each weekend. They recently launched “GetSetUp TV” for hesitant older adults to get a flavor of the GetSetUp platform without having to fully participate. Classes are rotated regularly to offer the widest variety of programming for older adults in the four main categories.
Technology solutions have grown dramatically over the past year and platforms such as GetSetUp will be part of the new normal. Connecting older adults to an online forum of their peers empowers engagement, continual learning, and even access to employment opportunities outside of the traditional brick and mortar approach.
GetSetUp is an online community of people who want to learn new skills, connect with others, and unlock new life experiences. Their safe, social, and interactive learning environment has been specifically designed for older adults. Classes are taught by older adults and kept small to ensure everyone can actively participate. For more information on GetSetUp or to get access to the classes sponsored. NYSOFA has paid for these classes but you must enter a special discount code when signing up. For more information on GetSetUp, to receive the discount code, or on other programs and services, contact the NY Connects Helpline at (716) 753-4582 or check out the OFAS Facebook page.