USA Today: Some Seniors Left Behind by Increasing Shift to Digital Life

Both the public and private sectors are making aggressive efforts to offer their services to people through the greater incorporation of technology and the internet, but for some this has created a new form of bureaucracy that requires additional time, training and patience: seniors are not always able to incorporate technology into their lives with rapidity, and some fear being left behind particularly in the realm of government programs and benefits.

This is according to a story published this week at USA Today.

In Denver at the public library, a social worker responsible for helping people navigate government programs has sometimes 10 additional hours to her work week on one case related to a senior attempting to navigate Colorado’s unemployment program, but is encountering a roadblock in the form of the digital devices needed to interface with it.

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“She’s spent all those hours helping one 66-year-old library patron, an out-of-work preschool teacher, with her unemployment benefits,” the story reads. “They are trying to navigate the labor department’s new cybersecurity system, which is designed for smartphones and requires multiple forms of current government ID. The preschool teacher has neither.”

This has emerged as an example of an emerging divide, the article says: the requirement for more people to understand and engage with digital devices and mechanisms before they can adequately engage with government programs which could provide them with necessary relief.

“Like dozens of other states, Colorado is turning to new technology to protect its unemployment system from scammers,” the story reads. “The labor department recently enlisted a third-party platform, ID.me, to verify people’s identities – a process that requires users to scan their faces with a smartphone’s camera, upload photographs of their IDs and, in some cases, wait for hours for a live video interview.”

Additional work in the case of the preschool teacher has gone into getting various forms of identification and other vital documents up-to-date, but the time is quickly approaching where the social worker will have to train the teacher in how to use her smartphone.

This has also spilled into the reverse mortgage arena in at least one documented instance, as 75-year-old Ingrid Jonsson spent two days attempting as many as 60 times to take an acceptable photo of herself with her older smartphone for the ID.me service. Getting through that has not solved all her problems, either.

“Ingrid Jonsson’s account is still in limbo due to a separate issue with the state system,” the story reads. “Meanwhile, she’s cut back to two meals a day and has survived from reverse mortgage payments on her rural home, she said. She fears losing the property – four acres with a view of Pikes Peak – if the problems aren’t resolved soon.”

These technological challenges can sometimes get lost in the shuffle when compared to the seniors who have few issues incorporating technology into more and more facets of their lives. While seniors often do not get as much credit as they should for taking the challenge in stride and overcoming it, there is still a contingency of seniors who need more time, effort and attention to be able to use a more digitally-oriented service in either the public or private sector.

Read the story at USA Today.

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