Technology helping to tackle loneliness among city’s elderly

Digital exclusion among elderly people is a growing issue in society as our population continues to age.

Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 5:00 am
Nan keeps in touch with daughter Dorothy over the internet. Picture: Chris Watt

To tackle the problem, Edinburgh housing association and care home provider Viewpoint has joined forces with a charity to help older people use technology in order to improve their day-to-day lives.

Tap into IT is a small Capital-based charity with more than ten years experience of helping older people, including those with disabilities and health problems, access the internet and digital technology.

This includes staying connected with friends and family, exploring new hobbies and carrying out an online shop from the comfort of their sofa.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The charity has enabled many people to access new technology for the first time, including 92-year-old, Nan.

The Gillespie Crescent resident previously lived in South Africa with her family before returning to Scotland 19 years ago.

She began going to the charity’s weekly computer club for residents in June last year to learn how she could keep in touch with her daughter Dorothy, a retired accounts manager who now lives in Lusaka in Zambia.

Nan said: “I decided to give it a go and I liked it. Two weeks later I bought a tablet which I use for card games, crosswords, mahjong and Whatsapp.

“It was expensive to phone and text my daughter. I now use Whatsapp to message and video Dorothy, as well as family in America.

“My grandson has just had a baby last month and he’s sending me lots of photos straight away. It’s good fun to get all the photos and hear all about the baby.

“I’m so much happier now with the technology and I don’t feel lonely any more.”

Viewpoint has been working with Tap into IT for the past seven years and is delighted with how the charity is making a positive impact on residents’ lives.

Esther Wilson, Director of People and Place at Viewpoint, said: “We are so heartened and encouraged to see how Nan’s life has changed since being taught the digital skills she needs to be able to communicate with her family all over the world.

“Being able to interact and stay connected has had an extremely positive impact on her quality of life.

“Digital inclusion is integral to our vision at Viewpoint and we have been working with Tap into IT since 2012 to give our tenants access to valuable IT skills. Nan is just one of many tenants who has benefited from this programme, which has been fundamental in tackling feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“It just goes to show that it is never too late to start learning new things!”