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There's An App for That: Generation Y Teaches Older Coloradans Tech Skills

Photo: Older Coloradans are getting help with using technology through an AARP program called Mentor Up. Courtesy: AARP CO
Photo: Older Coloradans are getting help with using technology through an AARP program called Mentor Up. Courtesy: AARP CO
September 11, 2014

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Navigating the high tech world of smart phones and social media apps can be a web of frustration for older Coloradans. But hundreds are getting help from a free program, and their guides are citizens born at least half a century later.

The program is called Mentor Up, and is run by AARP.

Terry Potente of Fruita recently got help understanding iCloud and how she could navigate through social media.

"Technology sometimes is a little intimidating to seniors,” she admits. “It's not intuitive with us as it is with younger people. So, they taught me about downloading and removing apps from both my iPad and iPhone."

So far, 250 older Coloradans have participated, and their generation Y tutors get community service hours in return.

Next week, 140 more people in the Fort Collins area will receive training.

Cathy Lasnik, senior program specialist for AARP Colorado, helps administer the program, and says giving older Coloradans the ability to communicate with family and friends who don't live near them is a lifeline.

"It helps them feel more connected because how many of us live in the same place that we grew up anymore?” she says. “And so it's been really great."

Potente points out in the past, she tried to get help from young people in her family, but ended up frustrated.

"They'd just go, 'Oh you do this, this and this,'” she relates. “So, you know if you're working with an individual and their sole purpose is to help you understand technology – it was a whole different ballgame. "

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, six out of every 10 seniors are online, but just 18 percent of those polled would feel comfortable learning to use a new technology device like a smartphone or tablet by themselves.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - CO