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Necessity (and a dash of desperation) is the grandmother of invention…

Physical distancing doesn’t have walls, but it does make it harder to be active, connected, and amused. One thing COVID-19 has done is encourage us to look at and use tech in new and/or different ways! Here are a few our favourite things that we’ve started using over the past weeks; we suspect we will talk more about each of them and others in future posts.

Keeping connected: Love video conferencing - there’s a lot you can do with this and distance isn't an issue! We would both give a lot to hug the grandkids right now (and so would our families) - things like sharing a virtual bedtime story helps. Sometimes Tanis’ six year old grandson reads one to her instead! Both of us have had many family meals (a dinosaur puppet often joins us). With a bit of help from Jen, Tanis arranged a surprise video call with friends and family for her husband’s birthday and people from all over the continent came, some of whom we haven't seen in years. Judy’s bridge and book club gather for chatting and simply keeping in touch. Tanis loves having her club’s board meetings over e-conferencing. A plus - no side conversations so things are done in half the time, but this also means weather and distance are no excuse to be absent! Judy knows that in more normal times she won't use video calls to this extent, but now they are another tool in her belt for when she needs it. Tanis will definitely make video calls post-COVID, for meetings, to keep in touch with family, and especially for distant friends. Plus for somewhat dissonant but lovely birthday serenades!

Keeping active: Mandatory isolation finds we are sitting more. Tanis’ smartphone pedometer motivates her to get up and move by counting how many steps she has done. Try it by walking around (and around!) any “track” in your home, or outdoors if that’s an option for you. There are many different apps - and smartwatches - you can use to do this; a search in Google for “step counter app” will bring up options and reviews. Judy enjoys and will always use her exercise program that she has on DVD plus going for a regular walk. Despite strong couch potato inclinations, Tanis knows the convenience and the instant feedback of her step counter will encourage her to continue her “walks” post-pandemic.

Keeping amused: Reading is one of our shared passions - we enjoy the heft, texture and history within a book but Overdrive/Libby, a library app, is perfect for COVID as well as travelling, during the winter storms, etc. You can reserve and “check out” e-books and audiobooks online, which then magically show up in your inbox or device. You can read on almost any device you want and returns are with the push of a button. Our local library system offers instant digital library cards for those whose cell phone has a local area code. Look into your own library system to see what you can access!

Thought from Judy: It’s taken a while for me to make the e-reader leap (I was reading my e-books on my iPad pre-COVID) and sometimes I wonder why I come so late to these wonderful ideas! The e-reader is lighter and more portable - easier to hold and I now have an afternoon’s pleasure in my pocket/purse. Since I do not tend to re-read, I also like the lack of clutter - a real plus as you age. Tanis echos enjoying a lack of clutter - she replaced her e-reader with an app on her smartphone a couple of years ago (decent eyesight required for this option). Both of us will continue reading e-books for their convenience as a second choice to reading real books beyond this pandemic.

Keeping Innovative: Think of new ways that you can use tech to make a task more interesting/fun/valuable for you. For example, when Tanis plays chess with her grandson they each have two devices so that the virtual chess board (we use Chesskid) is on a tablet and video conferencing is running at the same time on a laptop. This gives a more “real life” feel to the match; the board is in front of each of us and we’re virtually “sitting” beside each other where we can see each other and talk. You can still do this with one computer by keeping two windows side-by-side on your screen for a similar effect - one running the game and one the video call. And yes, he is starting to win. At the end of the day...Two months ago we would not have imagined these technologies would be such part of our everyday lives. Indeed, an incentive to start writing this blog (other than incitement from our daughter/daughter-in-law) is our newfound COVID-driven need to explore and adopt technology so that we can do the things we want to do. Nothing like jumping in the deep end to learn to swim fast! But we are encouraged that the water is not always as chilly or deep as we fear it might be.

Speaking of encouragement...thank you for your overwhelming support! We are delighted at how many people have subscribed to be notified when we post and appreciate your suggestions for topics - these have sparked much discussion for us and have inspired our next post, which will be ideas of how to go about learning to use a technology.

For some tips on how to engage with new technologies, you can check out our hot-off-the-press article “Powering up: Ways older adults can engage with new technologies”. Excited to let you know we’re on Twitter, too... another first for us! Thanks for reading and talk with you next Saturday morning!

#technology #choice #exploration #innovation #agingwithchoice

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