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Baltimore City seniors learn technology through virtual senior center

senior using technology
Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 07:59:33-04

BALTIMORE — The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to adjust their lifestyle, switching to more of a digital focus, which has been a struggle for the older population. That’s why a Baltimore City Senior Center is working to help bridge the gap.

The Edward A. Myerberg Center created a virtual senior center for their members, not just connect the members with each other but teach them how to adapt to this virtual age.

“Older adults are at higher risk for social isolation and loneliness and COVID-19 has only exacerbated those issues so we needed a way to keep our older adult community connected and we believed this could be possible through technology. We discovered that the majority of our older adults do have technology at home they just needed to learn how to use it,” said Niki Barr, the Center Director. "We found that this eliminates the fear and empowers users so that they’re more likely to utilize this technology in their daily life.”

They have tech experts to help the virtual seniors better understand the technological world, so they can do daily activities and connect with friends.

“It’s very easy to use one they set it up, even I don’t have difficulty. Besides our PC, I have a tablet that sat in the closet for six years, literally never turned on because I didn’t know how to use. Then when I started with this and aerobics, I needed room to move I was like alright let me take this tablet out and figure out how to work it. Now I do both,” said Harriet Udell, one of the members. “I’m certainly not savvy but I’m a lot savvier than I was in March. I’ll put it that way.”

They started a few programs now they have more than 50 every week, which anyone can join. It started off with just members and then expanded to people in other states and even other countries. If you’d like to learn more go to

There are 13 senior centers in Baltimore City, a handful of them are nonprofit organizations like Myerberg, but they’re all helped by the Baltimore City Health Department. The Deputy Commissioner of Aging for the department, Heang Tan, said they’re working to have other senior centers have this resource available.

"We know that it’s going to require a technological concierge to walk older adults through," said Tan. "When we think about the digital divide with other adults it’s really about connectivity, it’s about providing equipment but one of the most important things is providing that technology support and compassion and wrap around services. That’s one of those things we are trying to expand and working with partners for."

For centers who don't have this yet, they call members daily to check in on them. They also have a hotline available for seniors and caregivers.

"We expanded our department hotline called Maryland Access Point which is an aging and disability resource center so we tripled its capacity," said Tan. She explained how thanks to the partnership with the United Way it's not a 24 hour hotline. That number is 1-844-MAP-LINK.

As for the senior who've been able to use this virtual hotline, they're grateful.

Udell said, "It’s live so you have the ability to speak to other people to see them and it’s been great for seniors."