This is the second in my series of posts on how older people are using new technologies, stories gathered as part of work for the Centre for Ageing Better.
An old university contemporary of mine put me in touch with his 91 year-old Aunt, Joyce, who emigrated to Florida from Bradford in the 1950s and who had more or less lost touch with her family in the UK before she learned to use Skype.
Here are some of the things Joyce told me. The full video of the interview is at the foot of the post:
- Joyce started learning to use a computer because her sight was failing and it helped her read;
- Before learning to use a computer, Joyce struggled to write more than a postcard, partly due to nerve issues in her hands. She has now written 3 books, none of which has been published, but which she writes for the sheer joy of it;
- The most enjoyable part of being online is being able to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world. Joyce remembers the time when she had to make an appointment to make a transatlantic phone call, and it was prohibitively expensive;
- Joyce says that her sister-in-law was talked out of attending computer classes by her son who said she would never master it and it was a waste of time;
- Joyce does much of her shopping online “because things are cheaper”;
- Joyce says she would be very bored without a computer;
- Facebook is where she keeps track of her children and grandchildren, and, that day, she had been watching her great granddaughter on a Disneyworld rollercoaster;
- When asked her attitude to other older people not wanting to be online, Joyce replies “I think they are nuts…. They’re missing out on so much, sitting there in a chair, falling asleep or watching the Idiot Box”;
- Joyce is firmly of the opinion that being online keeps her young. She says “I look at people 10 to 15 years younger than me and they look so much older. There is always something on the computer to keep your brain going”.