Today nearly 22 million (42%) older Americans do not have broadband access at home, and Black and Latino seniors are 2.5 and 3.3 times more likely to lack this vital service. However, these statistics mean much more than facilitating aging Americans’ ability to play online solitaire or other games. This is why Community Tech Network (CTN) focuses on training older learners (in multiple languages) to acquire a broad range of digital skills.
The Federal Communications Commission recognizes that broadband access is a “super” determinant of health. Studies have also found that lack of internet is one of the leading causes associated with mortality risk from COVID-19. According to a recent article, “the ability to get online might be a matter of life or death.”
Older Americans without internet access are unable to access telehealth medicine, which has increased over 38% since the start of the pandemic. They are also unable to quickly search for health-related information online. In contrast, 74% of CTN’s learners report having better access to healthcare after learning how to use and access the internet.
Seniors without internet access have also been unable to sign up for food deliveries, search vaccine availability, and receive notifications through contract tracing if they have been exposed to someone who has COVID.
Additionally, more than 2 million older Americans suffer from depression. These feelings, coupled with pandemic isolation, have only been exacerbated in the last two years. However, thanks to video calls, texts, social media, and email, 70% of CTN’s learners report feeling less lonely since completing CTN’s digital training program.
Older Americans’ lack of internet access is a MAJOR public health and social justice issue. This Older Americans Month, help aging adults get and stay connected. Donate today.