German telecom grants $75K to combat social isolation

ROBIN CAUDELL/STAFF PhotoSenior Planer Exploration Center North Country program assistant Jamie Sutton teaches these seniors how to upload photographs to Facebook at Champlain Centre in Plattsburgh.

PLATTSBURGH — Aunt Chloe is fiercely independent, living on her own, still chopping her own wood and driving.

From the outside, her life appears fine.

But social isolation is an invisible crisis among senior citizens.

In 2020, seniors living in rural America will reach 14 million according to projections.

Nearly half of rural seniors will experience social isolation.


To combat social isolation, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) announces a new partnership with T-Mobile to expand its Senior Planet program in the North Country.

“T-Mobile gave us a $75,000 grant that will help us reach more isolated, older adults within the North Country,” Marco DiGirolomo, program manager,


“So right now, our biggest focal point and touch point of Senior Planet in the North Country is to reach older adults who are on the brink of social isolation, which many rural Americans are socially isolated.”

Depression and premature death are some of the negative health outcomes linked to living alone.

“The good news is that the technology and senior-friendly training provided in a supportive social context can counteract the effects of being along or feeling disconnected from other people,” Tom Kamber, OATS executive director, said in a release.

“We're excited to be working with T-Mobile, a company with a track record of meeting the needs of consumers. We appreciate their commitment to partnering with OATS to deepen our programming in the rural North Country.”



Today's offerings at the center located at Champlain Centre include “Fitness in the Digital Age” starting at 9 a.m., “Line Dancing

starting at 11:15 p.m., “Beyond Basics: Computer" at 1 p.m and "Wii Bowling" at 3 p.m.

“At T-Mobile, we believe everyone should have access to connectivity – whether to stay in touch with loved ones or be able to take advantage of all the resources the internet has to off,” John Legere, T-Mobile, CEO, said.

“That is why we are incredibly excited to partner with OATS and bring this innovative program to the people who need it most. The Senior Planet program will be able to empower even more seniors in the New York's North Country to expand their horizons through technology.”

Legere considers New York a second home, and he is keen to see the program come to life.

“With this grant from T-Mobile it gives us the resources and the tools to further our reach and become more involved with fighting social isolation within rural New York,” DiGirolomo said.

“$75,0000 will be going toward Senior Planet the project of Older Adults Technology Services. It's going to Senior Planet North Country to give us the tools to provide technology courses to over 100 older adults on the brink social isolation.”


OATS now has the means to grow its Senior Planet North Country programming to include:

Direct technology trainings for more than 100 seniors at risk of social isolation, including more than 30 hours of direct instruction and support using OATS' curriculum, designed for older learners and delivered by professional Senior Planet trainers.

The creation of a program to report to summarize impact and offer recommendations for further opportunities to increase digital pathways for rural Americans.

A region-wide outreach and information campaign to help raise awareness about the consequences of social isolation and identify at-risk individuals in the region.

“All of the courses at Senior Planet offer to help combat social isolation whether it's our basic courses which allow older adult or participants to create a new email which enables them to send out emails to family that are hundreds of miles away and with this funding we're able to provide more courses, offer classes in other areas within the North Country that we haven't done so already to broaden our scope of Senior Planet's mission which is to harness the power of technology,” DiGirolomo said.

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