By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
Would you like to see your granddaughter’s first ballet recital, take a “virtual visit” through Europe from your sofa, or chat with a distant childhood friend?
Lesle Dodge, Director of Skybridge…Pathways says these are but a few of the ways that “savvy seniors” can now enjoy access to real-time moments.
Since 2014, it’s become her personal mission to connect the elderly or caregivers with today’s techno-trends: Email, Facebook, and Skype-based innovations.
The company offers multiple “Pathways” for those who have an interest in computers and who want to explore new channels to connect with family or friends.
“We live in such a different world than 10 years ago,” Dodge said. “And this technology can provide instant ‘live’ interaction around the world.”
According to Dodge — the elderly, their caregivers, and non-native people speaker–can be unaware of those options or how to access them.
“One of the first steps is to set up their first E-Mail or Gmail account,” she explained. “From there, clients can choose to learn some basics skills, or consider other features.”
Skybridge can also assist in setting up live video conversations.
“We can help them check in with a son or daughter who may live on the other side of the country,” Dodge said, “or coach them on how to send text messages to a friend.” She notes that a Skybridge “navigator” can be dispatched to the homebound. “For seniors, they can now be part of family events, or visit the new grand-baby.”
In addition, Skybridge navigators can assist at local senior care centers, long-term residential homes or in a home setting. “Basically, we deliver technology to their door – that is, the laptop, the I-pad, speakers and head phones. It’s all portable,” says Dodge of once a week, or more frequent sessions.
The concept at Skybridge extends to those who want the communication benefits but don’t want the detailed instruction.
“We find that some clients may be physically incapable of working on keyboards, and they want someone there to work with those services,” Dodge said. “We approach this as a personalized ‘how to’ of pathways.”
While the service began as a “pilot project” — it has evolved into a full-service Cedar City hub.
“I’ve found that seniors,especially those living in assisted living facilities, so enjoy the experience of just receiving the printed Emails,” she said. “It’s one of those things that seniors miss most from their own past – so we can get them a mail delivery.”
In this new world of technology, Dodge said that savvy seniors can send and receive text messages, post messages, and enjoy photos moments on Facebook. If a senior has physical limitations, navigators can help with family research, or learn how to experience that trip they’ve always wanted to take.
For more information on Skybridge, go to their website, Skybridge1.com
“It’s also a great time to record one’s life history,” Dodge said. “We know that seniors have all of this great life experience to share.”
While the elderly, infirm, or homebound can often isolated from the world outside their door – Dodge is hopeful about the pathways available.
“This is how families connect. So we try and open the door to that future with a ‘tech’ person in their corner.”
Caption: Mariah Dodge, SUU student and ‘navigator,’ with 95 year-old Cedar City resident Renon Peterson at a weekly session. Clients can choose the location (at home, a library, park, school or restaurant) for convenient and flexible sessions. (Courtesy photo).