Virtual Resources for Older Adults During the Pandemic | WYPR

Virtual Resources for Older Adults During the Pandemic

Sep 21, 2020

Once again, we’re back with another edition of ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth.  I’m your host, Al Waller.

Now…social interaction can provide a sense of connectivity and community, which can often combat feelings of isolation.

However, amid the coronavirus pandemic it’s nearly impossible for many people, especially older adults and retirees, to have a lot of in-person social interaction.

Catherine Collinson, president of the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies is joining us to share some virtual resources that older adults can take advantage of.

So, to begin with Catherine, can you elaborate further on the importance of older adults using technology as a means to remain engaged and connected during the pandemic?

Catherine Collinson:

Absolutely, Al. Staying socially connected is essential for both physical and mental health and well-being. Technology can play an important role in helping people of all ages – but particularly older adults – stay connected. Research conducted by William Chopik, a psychology professor at Michigan State University, found that higher social technology usage among older adults led to better self-rated health and fewer depressive symptoms, among other positive health outcomes.

Al Waller:

Catherine, I really like the idea of older adults staying connected through technology. I can point to my Dad who was a life-long learner always interested in staying current & relevant especially discussing politics with friends.

And additionally, my father in-law, a WWII veteran, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge used technology as a means of reconnecting with members of his platoon many years later. As a matter of fact, this enabled them to ultimately re-unite annually for many years and collectively achieve a large degree of closure and peace.

Well…what are some of the other opportunities you found to be relevant for older adults?

Catherine Collinson:

The pandemic has vastly expanded the options and access to online classes, lectures and gatherings that were once only available locally. For example, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers an array of fascinating courses ranging from the arts and sciences to current events for people age 50+. And these courses are for the joy of learning – without the stress of mid-terms and final exams.

In Baltimore, both Johns Hopkins and Towson universities offer classes through the Osher Institute – and they have pivoted from in-person to online courses, so they’re much easier to access without the hassle of driving and parking.

Al Waller:

You’re absolutely right Catherine because with so many continuing education programs around the country migrating to on-line platforms willing participants really aren’t restrained by their geographical limitations.

Well, silver linings during the pandemic have been few and far between, but I think we can all agree that he vast expansion of online events is clearly one of them.

Catherine Collinson:

These classes can help people of all ages stay connected – and continue learning and growing. They can especially help the physical and mental well-being of older adults and retirees, many of whom live alone and are increasingly isolated during the pandemic.

Al Waller:

And as we tie up today, I’d also like to give a shout out to the Baltimore County Public Library System which is holding virtual events for people of all ages – some of which can be an opportunity for grandparents to virtually attend with their grandchildren.

Well Catherine, must say you’ve certainly piqued my interest in checking out these resources and I hope our listeners will feel the same.

And as always, thanks for your comprehensive research and insights.

That wraps up this edition of ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth on

This is Al Waller on WYPR, your NPR news station.

Stay safe & thanks for listening.