Technology Divide Between Senior ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’ Roils Pandemic Response

Family gatherings on Zoom and FaceTime. Online orders from grocery stores and pharmacies. Telehealth appointments with physicians.

These have been lifesavers for many older adults staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic. But an unprecedented shift to virtual interactions has a downside: Large numbers of seniors are unable to participate.

Among them are older adults with dementia (14% of those 71 and older), hearing loss (nearly two-thirds of those 70 and older) and impaired vision (13.5% of those 65 and older), who can have a hard time using digital devices and programs designed without their needs in mind. (Think small icons, difficult-to-read typefaces, inadequate captioning among the hurdles.)

Many older adults with limited financial resources also may not be able to afford devices or the associated internet service fees. (Half of seniors living alone and 23% of those in two-person households are unable to afford basic necessities.) Others

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The safer summer social | Health Beat

Try to keep your social gatherings small this summer, typically about 15 or fewer people. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Hand-washing, wearing a mask and staying about half a dozen feet from others are still the best steps we can take to reduce exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

With the number of new cases trending upward in the U.S. in recent weeks, what’s the best course of action for family picnics, parties or get-togethers?

The short answer: For most, it’s relatively safe to gather in small groups of 15 or fewer, as long as precautionary measures are in place.

COVID-19 or not, it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to avoid social interactions with loved ones and friends, said Liam Sullivan, DO, an infectious disease specialist with Spectrum Health.

“We’re human beings,” Dr. Sullivan said. “Human beings are social creatures by nature. We crave that interaction with people.

“We can’t

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