A question that everyone has when they are aging is: How do I navigate a world that is increasingly unfamiliar? How do I adjust to changes that happen so quickly? What skills do I need to stay in touch, stay vibrant, and stay part of this life?
It’s a question that often is answered by staving off a loss. It’s too often a question of, “How long until I have to stop driving?” or “When do I have to stop living by myself?” And while these are important questions, we sometimes neglect the positive ones, like: “What can I learn?”
Increasingly, one of the most important things for older adults to learn is computer skills. Computer classes for seniors in the San Francisco Bay Area help seniors navigate, participate, and even dominate the modern world.
Computer skills, whether the basics of surfing the web or advanced creative and coding skills, help seniors live lives of adventure, excitement, and fulfillment. It helps keep people in touch with loved ones, handle basic services, and participate in the modern economy with ease.
But maybe more than that, computer skills can open up new worlds. They can create new possibilities for creativity and enjoyment. They create new ways to stay engaged with the world.
There are a number of reasons why seniors in the Bay Area take computer classes, at every level of skills and experience, and a huge number of places where to do it. They are an answer to many of the questions that come to us when we age … and we don’t even have to Google them.
Why Take Computer Classes for Seniors in San Francisco Bay Area?
There are often a few reservations that older adults have when it comes to taking computer classes in the Bay Area.
Some people worry the topics in class will be too complicated. Others object because they already know what they’re doing and are worried about classes being too rudimentary (this is especially true in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, which basically invented the modern computer society).
But there are classes and courses for every level and everyone. Whatever your reason for wanting to gain more computer skills, there is a class for you.
Some of those reasons include:
- Becoming computer literate: There’s no shame in not knowing a mouse from a modem. If computers weren’t something you grew up around, you might not know how to use them. You may be uncomfortable getting online and feel that it is too late (or too embarrassing) to learn the basics. But nothing could be further from the truth. No one just knows computers. Everyone has to learn, and it is never too late to start.
- Keep in touch with family and friends: Getting online is key to using email and social media platforms like Facebook to stay in touch with your loved ones, and reconnect with people from the past (old friends are one of the great joys of aging). Classes don’t just teach you how to access these services; they demonstrate how to use them. Etiquette, rules, and best practices. You can skip right past being a noob and become a social media maven.
- Learn new creative skills: Earlier this year, we talked about Mary Seymour, who at 93 (and being blind her whole life) took up painting. That was inspiring, and with computers, many people can do something similar. Computers make it easier to make movies and music, create art, even start new creative businesses through Etsy or eBay. Someone who spent years making crafts now has a global marketplace, and someone who just started a new hobby has access to a world of support. Computers don’t stifle creativity; they open it up toward infinity.
- Learn new job skills: It’s an unfortunate fact of life that many Bay Area seniors face poverty. Computer skills, including coding, make employment possibilities more possible, especially in the regional tech economy. Any older adult looking for a retirement job can use these new job skills, which are vital in today’s workplace.
Being computer literate is a vital part of existing today. It’s sort of like money: You don’t need money to be happy, but having money makes you not worry about it. Having basic or advanced computer skills allow you to get through the world with more ease. You don’t have to go to the post office or spend time getting to the store. You can live your life.
More than that, computer skills can allow you to reinvent your life, whether it’s creatively or financially, or add a new aspect to it. All you have to do is know where to start.
How to Find Computer Classes for Seniors in the San Francisco Bay Area
As the beating heart of the tech world, there are a lot of places to take computer classes in the San Francisco Bay area. We can’t tell you every place to go, but we can help you on your journey. Here are a few resources to consider
- The San Francisco Public Library (SFPL): The SFPL is one of the area’s great civic institutions, and its “Wise Up” programs offer the opportunity to “live well at any age.” Their computer classes help beginners and old pros alike. Keep checking the website to see upcoming classes.
- SF Computer Training: The Senior Surf Computer Foundation has helped seniors get online and get tech-savvy since 2004. Classes are for every skill level.
- Bay Area Seniors Computer Club: This club is member-driven, so it involves peer-on-peer training. Learn how to make greeting cards, use your digital camera with skill, use Photoshop, create videos, and more. Express your creativity.
- Berkeley Retirement Services: The University of California, Berkeley offers both computer and iPad classes.
- Remote coding classes: Classes at advanced levels are available for people already online, including from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In these courses, you can learn how to do things like code in multiple languages.
Why learn computers? Because they are the way to stay involved in the world, to find what life has to offer and to grab it with both hands … even if you type with two fingers.
Don’t be afraid of technology. It can and will change your life. From staying in touch with relatives around the world to finding new ways to express yourself creatively to opening up a new careers part, computer classes for seniors in the Bay Area help you get online and get more out of the world offline.
At Institute on Aging, our mission is to help older adults thrive while aging at home. We offer services, including home care and financial services, as well as social programs, to help aging adults do just that. Contact us today to learn more.