One of the few silver linings to the COVID-19 pandemic is increased awareness of the digital divide and the impact that being technologically disconnected can have on a wide range of social determinants of health.
The Oasis Connections program began teaching older adults to use the Internet since 2000 because use of the internet is an important way to reduce isolation after retirement. In 2004 Oasis began to teach online safety to help people continue to connect with their loved ones, resources, trusted information sources, and e-commerce as safely as possible. We are proud that tens of thousands of people have benefited from Connections classes and are also aware that this number is merely a drop in the bucket when we consider how many older adults are currently living alone and feeling disconnected.
Christopher Ciano and Adam Pellegrini noted in their article The Importance of Tech Education for Older Americans that not all older adults are comfortable with Internet and mobile technology. Oasis does offer a telephone-based support group, Conversations that Count for people more comfortable with connecting by telephone.
We applaud Christopher Ciano and the Aetna Medicare team for being thoughtful about teaching new digital adopters to use Zoom Video in their Putting the Me In Medicare e-book and for acknowledging the classes and resources Oasis has available to help connect people during the pandemic, and stay safe online.