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Florida company connects seniors to outside world during coronavirus pandemic

Residents taught social media, how to make online orders
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Posted at 4:00 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 17:01:42-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Isolation is a common feeling during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when it comes to senior citizens.

Chuck Sawicki and Martha Wolf said their life has changed in more ways than one.

"Everything gradually shifted to technology. Zoom meetings," said Sawicki. "Closed down La Posada [senior living community] in Palm Beach Gardens. None of us were able to go out. We couldn't have our regular meetings."

They found themselves looking for help.

"It was a very difficult transition because many seniors were not up to speed on technology," said Sawicki. "It created a lot of depression until people adapted."

Tiffany DiPanni said her mission in life is to help senior citizens, so she founded "Social Savvy Seniors," which combines her technology skills and love for the elderly.

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Social Savvy Seniors is helping individuals learn how to use their computers, tablets and smartphones.

Life changed overnight because of the coronavirus, and she is now teaching seniors how to overcome the intimidation and overwhelming nature of the digital world. She instructs them on how to use social media and make online orders for food, medicine and transportation.

"Even before COVID, we had a real concern for senior isolation because we are living in a digital world," DiPanni said.

She also believes it is important to teach her senior students how to decipher fact from fiction online.

"We live in a world where we absolutely have to dissect the information that we're given," DiPanni said.

After Zoom classes and more, Sawicki and Wolf have dubbed themselves: "converted frightened octogenarians into socially savvy seniors."

Group classes are free, but individual classes require a fee. Right now, the majority of training is virtual.