Key Takeaways:

Learning is enhancing Kay's life to help her learn new skills and stay connected with her family even though they are miles apart.

Kay got involved with AgeSmart Community Resources, her local area agency on aging resource center, through a friend.

“Judy asked me if I would be interested in trying a GetSetUp class offered by them. I am game to try anything. I’ve parachuted out of an airplane at 13,000 feet so, I said — ‘yeah sure!’ ”

At 78 years old Kay is no stranger to technology. She and her husband regularly use Facetime and Skype to help out their daughter as virtual grandparents. Kay is the grandparent of her daughter’s 9-year-old twins and has been in constant contact with them since the pandemic started.

“We keep up with the kids and help our daughter since she is a single parent, working from home. Since the children are in the same grade we help with reading, math, and spelling. Grandpa takes one and I take the other and we go into our separate quiet spaces to work with them.”

We try to keep the grandkids on track by reminding them that a schedule and completing their work is important even though they are staying at home. Kay finds that they struggle to want to get up at a certain time (too early for them) and finish activities. She reminds them that they would need to get up earlier, if mom had to drive them to school.

“You have to reason with them and instead of coming from mom — sometimes grandma can get away with more. This helps our daughter so she could have conference calls and work on her projects from home.”

Technology keeps families connected

Her grandkids have no problem picking up the phone and calling grandma to say “Guess what I’m doing?” This is one of the perks of the modern era.

Kay moved from Illinois to California, where she raised her family, so her parents couldn’t be as actively involved in her own children’s lives at the time since tools like Facetime didn’t exist.

“It was a different world when I had my children. It was expensive to call and fly to see their grandparents. There wasn’t as much contact as we are blessed with having.”

Kay and her husband both grew up in Bellville, Illinois but ended up in California since her husband was in the air force at the time. They spent 42 years in California before deciding to move back since the cost of living was much cheaper in Illinois than California. While in California they had their children and Kay worked as an RN for about 30 years. When they decided to retire and move back to Illinois, Kay even got her nursing license for Illinois thinking she would pick up some shifts here and there. However, she ended up staying so busy with decorating their new house’s decoration, gardening, and other activities that there was never the time, and thankful she didn’t need to.

Pride in fellow nurses

Kay feels a lot of pride in her fellow nurses working through the pandemic.

“My heart goes out to the nurses and doctors in the hospitals dealing with this pandemic. I lived through the HIV period and we didn’t have to dress up in as much of the protective gear like they do now. When I see them getting geared up I am both so proud of them and worried for their welfare.”

While the pandemic has changed life a good deal Kay still manages to stay really busy. She has at least some contact with her grandkids most days and is trying to keep to her exercise schedule through adapted programs. Currently, she participates in some walking groups where everyone keeps their distance and wears masks so it is safe. Though she really misses her Zumba class 3 times a week. However, she doesn’t feel comfortable being in a room with people not wearing masks, dancing around, heavy breathing and exhaling, and having difficulty with distancing.

Her biggest disappointment throughout the pandemic was not being able to travel and especially, take the trip in June to England to visit her son, his wife, and Kay’s other grandson who just turned 16. Normally she also spends a month of the summer in California caring for the twins while their mom is at work. She really enjoys this time because she learns so much from the kids and has quality time with her daughter.

Trying new things and staying busy

Kay is keeping busy by trying new things like classes on GetSetUp. She started with a Get Started With Zoom for Beginners class. She doesn’t use Zoom so much currently and said.

“It was a good class. Though I am not as confident with Zoom. I have to go back over the notes I took and repeat the class, now that I have some understanding of the basics. It’s not like the iPhone class with Wade since I already had some knowledge of the iPhone and have been using it for some time.”

Despite knowing about the iPhone and using it regularly the iPhone Basics — All You Need to Know class helped to explain some of the features to Kay that she wasn’t previously use.

“In fact, I was thinking of taking the class again because Wade was very helpful in answering questions and addressing specific problems.”

Since she won’t be able to garden or travel, Kay likes the ideas of classes and sees herself likely using them even more with winter approaching. Kay and her husband have traveled to multiple other countries and made friends in places like Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and Japan. Getting more proficient with Zoom during the coming months is a goal. This will enhance our keeping in touch with these friends. With that idea in mind, she’s been keeping her eye on a few new classes. There are multiple classes to assist with Virtual Grandparenting to learn new tools/techniques to connect and she thinks some of those might be of interest. She always seems to keep pretty busy.

Naturally, she would rather have her old life back, but she hasn’t found the pandemic adjustment so difficult. She continues to get out once a week to volunteer at the local food pantry. While it has changed significantly to implement new hygiene measures and social distancing protocols that ensure the safety of everyone involved, it still has the comfort of familiarity and helping others in need.

“If everyone just used common sense and tried to work together to get through this pandemic, TOGETHER, we would SUCCEED!

While the world waits for the pandemic to be a thing of the past, life long learners like Kay are taking advantage of opportunities that the pandemic is providing for them. From classes on how to connect better with your grandchildren and friends through virtual technology classes that help you understand your latest device. There is a bit of something for everyone.

Why not see if a class or social session on GetSetUp is right for you?

May 19, 2022
Community Stories

Classes by:

Liz Miller

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