Web sites assist older 'surfers'

Internet: As more seniors go online, the amount of information tailored to their needs increases.

Life After 50

June 04, 2000|By Korky Vann | Korky Vann,HARTFORD COURANT

If you think Internet-surfing is a sport dominated by the young, check again. People older than 50 make up the fastest-growing group of Internet users, says the American Association of Retired Persons, whose surveys show that millions of older adults have computers and use them regularly.

As cyber-seniors have increased in numbers, so has the number of Web sites and electronic newsletters featuring information on aging. These days, computer-savvy older adults have the latest information on everything from health issues and travel to finances and entertainment as close as their keyboards.

Here are a few of the newest:

Social Security

Recipients can keep up with the latest changes in benefits and rules through a new electronic newsletter from the government.

Subscribers customize the information they receive in free monthly updates from the Social Security Administration. Retirees, for example, can choose to get news about benefits, including announcements of Social Security's annual cost-of-living raises.

The newsletter also includes topics of interest to employees, such as pilot programs to test easier ways of reporting workers' wages to Social Security.

"We hope that beneficiaries, workers, employers and professionals who handle Social Security issues will find Social Security E-News useful and timely," said William Halter, Social Security deputy commissioner.

An e-mail address is all that is needed to receive the newsletter. Those interested can subscribe at the Social Security Administration's Internet site at www.ssa.gov.

Vision disorders

The Internet can also be valuable for the millions of Americans who are losing their vision to macular degeneration, the leading cause of legal blindness in Americans older than 55. It affects more older adults than cataracts and glaucoma combined.

The Macular Degeneration Help Center, www.MacD.net, contains details on tools and resources on age-related macular degeneration for patients, their families and older adults.

The site is updated frequently with the latest information on research, clinical trials and experimental treatments. A monthly newsletter contains interviews with leading professionals, stories from patients and the AMD Alert, a column highlighting news as it happens.

The accessible site is designed with the vision-impaired in mind; colors are high contrast, and print size can be enlarged for easier reading.

Caregivers

As our population ages, estimates are that as many as one in four adults will provide ongoing care for a family member at some point. Currently, 25 million Americans, most of them women and many of them isolated, are caretakers, and these numbers are increasing.

A new Web site, www.webofcare.com, offers practical information, animated caretaking demonstrations and online support groups designed to help the needs of home caregivers.

In addition, webofcare.com's "Ask the Expert" service provides access to medical professionals who respond to individual questions within 48 hours.

HeavenlyDoor.com

Finally, if you have retired and moved away from the old neighborhood and are wondering about neighbors, friends and extended family who may have passed on, pay a visit to HeavenlyDoor.com.

The Web site provides links to the obituary pages of 10 major newspapers across the country, including The New York Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post and Arizona Republic.

Many senior centers and libraries have computers available for public use and offer introductory courses on computer and the Internet.

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