Everyone knows social media isn’t just for kids anymore. In fact, more than one third of seniors utilize at least one social media outlet. Technology makes it easy to connect with family, friends and our community, but it’s not the only way to keep in touch. Here are few ways you can help those close to you stay connected, both on and offline, and how to branch out and build your network.
Gather together and reach out.
The City of Plano has a simple, printable guide to organizing a block party. You can use an event like this to gather information from all attendees, then start an online community, email tree or phone tree to keep each other informed about important issues or events. At the party, you can plan to create a welcoming committee to greet new neighbors the day they arrive. Or build a neighborhood support network to help each other out whenever there’s a need. Have a little extra time? You can create a neighborhood newsletter or find someone willing to take on this challenge at your block party. Your newsletter could be sent to your neighborhood email list, posted to your social media account, or printed and shared in physical form with those who aren’t online.
Find new ways to keep it simple.
The Buy Nothing Project has created a gift-giving economy. A collaborative sharing network with a few simple rules: “Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering." You can find a group to join in your community, start a group from scratch. Or make a difference as a volunteer.
Keep yourself connected.
One way to help ensure other members of your community are connected is to keep on top of important issues yourself. If you’re already active on a social media platform, add your place of worship, fire and/or police station, and elected officials. This will help ensure you’re among the first to know about important safety information, pending legislation and upcoming town hall meetings. USA.gov makes it easy to find your government officials, and a simple web search can help you find the platforms on which other organizations within your community reside.
Get on the same page.
Organize a book or media share within your neighborhood, or create a book-lending cupboard. Littlefreelibrary.org shows you how to make a physical mini-library. But you could also develop an online system that tracks book, video or audio inventory, and a method of sharing selections with everyone in the neighborhood. Take it a step further by organizing a neighborhood or community swap, for everything from toys and clothes, to seeds and CDs.
Get up to computer speed.
How’s your Internet IQ? Test your computer knowledge for free. Then help others learn the basics of getting online. Netliteracy.org offers a series of free lesson plans to help seniors learn computer, Internet and email basics. You can print and share these with neighbors, or learn the basics yourself and share the knowledge firsthand. You can also search for computer classes by state, or visit your local library to learn about upcoming training events.
Feeling like you’ve developed a strong community bond? It’s time to search for new ways to give back.