Over-70s are embracing tech and changing stereotypes to stay connected to loved ones

News Desk
Authored by News Desk
Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - 19:14

PLYMOUTH’S over-70s are bucking the age-related stereotype by embracing digital technology to tackle social isolation and stay connected.

A recent survey asked people aged over 70 about their use of online platforms, with more than 80% of over-70s saying they were confident using the internet, social media, and tech devices.

The Specsavers survey, in partnership with Royal Voluntary Service, was looking at how the older generation connects with friends and family.

The results show that across the South West over-70s are using digital technology to stay in touch with loved ones (75%), engage in online shopping (81%) and keep up with their grandchildren’s social media (47%).

In addition, while some over-70s in the region are hoping to learn mindfulness and meditation (16%), others are keen to enrol and participate in online courses and workshops (26%) and use video call platforms to keep in touch with friends (29%).

This comes as recent research from Age UK shows that more than two million people over the age of 75 live alone, and half of these will go a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour, or family member.

In a bid to help the over-70s stay connected, Specsavers and Royal Voluntary Service are promoting the Virtual Village Hall. The partnership will provide Specsavers Home Visit customers with information and an introduction to the Virtual Village Hall.

Sam Ward OBE, Deputy CEO at Royal Voluntary Service, said: ‘The Virtual Village Hall is a free, online activity hub and community, designed to help people stay physically and mentally active, connected and having fun.

‘There are 12-15 live sessions every week and a library of 2,000 sessions to choose from, all led by expert tutors and presenters, including some well-known faces. From exercise and dance, yoga and meditation, to digital skills, crafts and cooking, there’s something for everyone, and you don’t need to sign up or subscribe to join or take part.

‘It’s a great way for people that, for whatever reason, might feel lonely, isolated, or unable to leave their home, to feel connected to others and part of something.

‘We are delighted to be working with Specsavers on this important campaign. Helping their Home Visit clients to access our Virtual Village Hall is such a great way to help more people stay connected and thriving at home.

‘After successfully getting more people online during the pandemic through the Virtual Village Hall, we realised its value to people who want to feel connected. We are glad to partner with Specsavers to welcome people to the Virtual Village Hall and to open doors for new opportunities for those keen to adapt their skillset.’

The study found that just under a quarter consider it extremely important to learn new skills as they get older, with those over the age of 70 having learned at least four new skills since hitting the milestone age.

Specsavers Home Visits offers comprehensive eye tests in the homes and care homes of people who are unable to leave their house unaccompanied due to a physical or mental illness or disability.

Dawn Roberts, clinical director for Specsavers Home Visits, said: We want to do as much as we can to improve the daily lives of our customers, beyond helping them with their vision.  

‘Specsavers Home Visits allow vulnerable customers, who are unable to leave their homes due to age or physical or mental illness, to engage in social contact and reduce feelings of isolation.  

‘We always want to go the extra mile which includes ensuring that customers have the means to stay connected with loved ones, meet new people, and gain new skills that interest them.  

‘We are so excited to be partnering with Royal Voluntary Service who are already making a huge difference to people’s lives.  

‘Promoting the Virtual Village Hall will help our customers to connect with new people and give them an accessible platform where they can learn and develop a range of skills, while having better sight to do this with.

To find out if you, or someone you know, is eligible for Specsavers’ Home Visit Services, please visit: www.specsavers.co.uk/home-eye-tests/eligibility

To learn more about the Royal Voluntary Service Virtual Village Hall please visit: www.virtualvillagehall.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/