As life goes on, so should learning. Lilia Cos, 60, and Wiseña Relente, 57, are a testament to this. They recently completed – and topped — a short course, from which they emerged as social media savvy seniors who could hold their own against their millennial progeny.
Both residents of Barangay 672 of Paco, Manila, the women belong to the latest batch of graduates of the Smart “Millenniors” program that enables the elderly to keep in step with technology. The seniors learned to use smartphones and mobile data, open a Facebook account, take selfies and upload them. Their teachers were tech-savvy millennials, represented by students of Adamson University; hence the name of the program.
For Lilia and Wiseña, the lessons are priceless, bringing a fresh outlook on life. As studies have shown, the elderly are prone to feelings of loneliness and isolation, and Internet use can help keep depression at bay.
“It all has to do with older persons being able to communicate, to stay in contact with their social networks, and not just feel lonely,” according to Sheila Cotton, a Michigan State University professor who led one such research project.
Millennior Lilia, the batch “valedictorian,” lamented that she’s the only one among her siblings who can’t visit the family home in Bulacan regularly, due to the cost and effort of travel. Those overseas have been there more often.
Thanks to Facebook, even her siblings in Japan and Germany no longer seem so far away. “Finally, we’re talking! I haven’t seen you in a long time,” one of them exclaimed on their first contact. Lilia also gets to keep in touch with friends in Laguna and Cavite through Messenger.
Where Lilia found a way to connect, Wiseña discovered a way to escape. When she’s done with her chores, Wiseña doesn’t just put her feet up, she watches videos on YouTube, particularly her favorite telenovela.
“It takes my stress away,” she says, adding that she’s even subscribed to Smart’s an-hour-a-day Free YouTube promo.
The Adamson student trainers were just as thrilled about their unique interaction with the senior learners.