THE Association for the Aged (Tafta) is helping its residents “stay connected” with the launch of a novel campaign aimed to encourage more elders embrace online communication.The TechSavvySeniors campaign, which rolled out at six Tafta establishments this week, in recognition of the annual Week of Older Persons, highlights this year’s theme “Stepping into the Future - Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society”.Whether it’s online shopping, research or just keeping in touch with family, the well-equipped media centres allow more pensioners adapt to the digital world in order to keep up with the times as well as their old acquaintances and younger family members.“Internet use among those 65 and older is growing. The elderly use these tools to bridge the gap between them and their loved ones far away and as a way to re-connect with friends from a far off time. Studies show that the internet has become an important portal for reducing isolation, loneliness and other depressive symptoms,” says Tafta CEO Femada Shamam.The Week of Older Person’s theme this year explores effective means of promoting and strengthening the participation of older persons in various aspects of social, cultural, economic and civic and political life.Resident at Tafta on Ridge, Elsa Maree (71), has embraced online communication, saying she was thrilled to hear of the new media centre.“You are never too old to learn something new. I am quite excited and feel so strongly that we should never limit ourselves because of our age or stage,” she said.“I think we should meet our challenges as we age, whatever they are, and we should choose to make choices that will stimulate our minds as well as our bodies, added Maree who spends three hours each day on Skype and WhatsApp. “I’m happy to be in touch with my family overseas and also be able to research information on any new medication if I am unsure.”Maree says she will be assisting Tafta staff teach residents the basics of online communication.“It’s amazing just how much I can get done by just a click of a button. This makes life much more convenient,” she added. For Maree and her colleagues, the potential that social media and online communication hold for seniors extends beyond communication, particularly as they consider how the numbers of older people online are likely to grow. “I don’t think it’s going to be too long, even within the next 10 years, we’re going to see a huge increase in seniors using technology,” says Shamam.“”Keeping active physically is important but social activity also helps to elevate mood and to help to actually impact healing and it can keep cognitive function on-going as well as one ages,” says Shamam.The media centres are available at the following facilities:· John Dunn House· John Conradie House· Anna Conradie Wellness Centre at Tafta Lodge· Tafta on Ridge· Langeler Towers· Mary Asher Wellness Centre at Kings HallAs life expectancy continues to increase, the burden of both financially and physically, caring for ageing parents is one of the most important and pressing issues for adult children today. Stand alongside Tafta to bridge the gap and help to find new mechanisms to provide essential services to those who can no longer be active members in our community. - Supplied.