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The Short Version: SeniorPlanet.org is an informational website that embraces aging with attitude. The site is hosted by Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), a nonprofit launched in 2004 by a group of Brooklyn social entrepreneurs to teach seniors the basics of how to use technology to improve their lives. Today, Senior Planet publishes straightforward articles on dating, fashion, sex, health, and other important topics. The nonprofit organization also hosts free educational programs taught in various locations across the country. Since its early days, the website’s editorial team has worked hard to provide a realistic look at the challenges faced by today’s singles. In doing so, they’ve shifted people’s perspective on what seniors are capable of. Seniors often come away from Senior Planet’s article toolbox and in-person workshops feeling empowered to navigate the online world to meet new people, find dates, and maintain active social networks.
When my great-uncle passed away last year, my great-aunt announced to the family that she was going to move into an apartment. This was the first decision, after 60 years of marriage, that she made solely for herself. She had moved into an assisted living center for her husband’s sake when his health started declining, but she missed having a kitchen of her own. She had a valid driver’s license and no serious health ailments, so nothing could stop her from claiming her independence.
Her son’s first priority was making sure she knew how to send him a text, Facebook message, or email. He didn’t want her to feel alone just because she would be living alone. Nowadays, she frequently texts her friends and family members with updates on how she’s doing, and, I have to say, her emoji game is on point.
Knowing how to work technology has helped my great-aunt stay connected to the people who love her, and that’s been a tremendous blessing for her as she enters a new chapter in her life at the ripe old age of 91.
SeniorPlanet.org is on a mission to provide men and women over 60 (like my great-aunt) with the resources they need to join the digital age and use technology to improve their lives. The editorial team celebrates aging and raises awareness about important issues impacting today’s seniors. Since its launch, the website has educated seniors about technology, health, travel, dating, and sex, thus preparing thousands of readers to make the most of their golden years.
Senior singles can turn to this online resource and its calendar of events for a framework on how to navigate online dating, keep up with the local community, and age with attitude.
“We are a social change organization,” said Tom Kamber, Executive Director of OATS. “We hope to build an international movement that’s powered by people and their ambitions as they get older.”
Senior Planet equips senior individuals, including those in the LGBT community, with helpful information about how to meet new people and find dates using technology. “Information empowers seniors to be successful,” Tom said. “We make sure they have a chance to put their best foot forward.”
The website’s toolbox has an entire section devoted to senior dating and sex in which writers share useful strategies, tools, and tips with singles of a certain age. A majority of the writers on Senior Planet are seniors who have been through similar issues and can relate to the challenges faced by senior daters. Tom said the writers often pitch ideas for new articles based on their own experience and expertise. These down-to-earth articles go beyond stereotype and counter common misconceptions about aging and senior dating.
“This is a marvelously informative and uplifting column for us seniors, making it clear that there are many ways to continue enjoying our sexual selves.” — Mac Marshall, a Senior Planet reader
Senior Planet walks readers through everything from what makes a good profile picture to how to talk to a partner about sex. The articles tackle these sensitive subjects with compassion and sincerity. You can learn all about online dating from a senior’s perspective by perusing this library of articles.
“Older people going online are pioneers,” Tom said. “They’re the ones taking the risks for you and me, so in the future it’ll be a lot easier for seniors to date online because of the people putting themselves out there today.”
Senior Planet isn’t just about online content; the team boasts having a robust in-person programming as well. The program was launched in New York City but has expanded to numerous locations across the US.
“What we have going on in New York City is pure magic,” Tom said. “We have the best program centered around aging and technology in the world.”
Since 2013, Senior Planet has taught classes about Meetup, Twitter, and other popular online mediums as a way of introducing seniors to technological tools that can improve their lives. The classes take place at local libraries, senior centers, and other community hubs both in major cities and rural areas with thriving senior populations. The organization has hosted over 30,000 informational sessions, all of which were offered for free to older adults.
Tom told us that many seniors are curious about websites, and all they need is a non-intimidating setting where they can ask questions and learn how to make the most of the online space.
Social networking sites are particularly important to seniors because, as people get older, they often become isolated, which can be harmful to their overall health and happiness. By teaching simple skills like posting a status or sending a private message, Senior Planet enables people to stay connected and engaged no matter what age they are.
“When we hit the age of 60, we need to double down on social networking,” said Tom. “When you get older, your networks will naturally decline, so it’s absolutely necessary that we reconstruct and rebuild those networks.”
So many of today’s seniors shy away from technology because they don’t know how it works, but a little knowledge can empower them to become more self-sufficient, savvy, and satisfied individuals. “Older Americans are like you and me,” Tom said. “They’re full of passion. They’re diverse. They have the same anxieties and fears.”
Senior Planet is part of a global movement to educate the world’s senior population and prepare them to age with attitude. Over the years, this nonprofit has helped the older generation take advantage of opportunities to connect, grow, and learn.
“Senior Planet is a social change organization that uses technology to create opportunities for older adults to better their lives.” — Tom Kamber
Tom said Senior Planet’s mission is all-encompassing — its editorial team tackles many important subjects, including financial security, health and wellness, and social engagement, in an effort to inform and embolden seniors from all walks of life. People today are living longer than ever before, and that has impacted the social scene in fundamental ways.
“We are now sitting at the dawn of the longevity revolution, and it has huge implications for our social relationships,” Tom said. “We are reinventing what it means to have relationships in your 60s, 70s, and 80s. Technology gives us the opportunity to shape our experience in healthy ways.”
In the coming years, Senior Planet will continue to expand its reach and grow its community of impassioned and empowered seniors. Tom said the team plans to launch new programs in Asian countries. “We have a strong national and international impact,” he said. “We see ourselves as innovators in a rapidly learning organization with a hyper-focused mission to help older adults.”
My family worried about how my great-aunt would handle being on her own for essentially the first time in her life. But, it turns out, she found joy in her independence. Her ability to text her son, email her friends, and comment on family photos has helped her feel connected to the people she cares about — even if they live miles away.
Having a social network in place can make a huge difference in the lives of senior citizens, and Senior Planet has taken strides to establish that network by engaging seniors in an honest discussion about technology, health, sex, and aging. This nonprofit organization has equipped seniors across the country to take control of their futures and lead healthier, happier lives.
“Technology is never the endpoint for us,” Tom said. “We have a not-so-secret plan to take over the world. Our site and programs encourage discussion about the physical and emotional realities of aging — and we’re very proud of that.”