Like everybody else I’ve always wanted to work at something that I am passionate about doing. Helping people has always been a part of that. After getting my undergraduate degree in psychology and working for a while, I started thinking about going to graduate school to find more opportunity for career growth. I came upon the idea of becoming a librarian and the appeal that it had surprised me. It wasn’t something that had ever crossed my mind before but I had learned a lot about what I enjoyed doing in my work, and the more that I thought about it, the more that a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree seemed like a good match for me. What I enjoyed so much in my work was connecting people with resources, services, information, and technology that solved their problem, empowered them, or made something in their life better. It made me happy. So I decided to get the degree, but I also decided something else. When I was researching career opportunities in the field, I had come across a book written by two women, Reva Basch and Mary Ellen Bates, who were librarians turned independent information professionals. That book about starting and running your own research business struck another chord in me and I began to think of one day becoming an entrepreneur.
I had no idea where things would take me, what exactly I would do, or how I would do it, but I got my degree and I started working in an academic library. During that time my dream was always in the back of my mind. I was constantly thinking of ideas for becoming an “information entrepreneur”. There were also many experiences that I kept reflecting on, both in my personal and professional life. What I was paying attention to were the many frustrations and difficulties that people of all ages can have in finding information, learning new technology, and using the web. I also thought a lot about how wonderful it is when somebody learns that one new thing that makes a real difference for them. So more and more I started thinking about finding a niche where I could help people with those kinds of challenges.
Let me tell you about my mom. She has always been afraid of using a computer. She truly suffered from technophobia. Just getting her to try email was something that I had long given up on. Then came the iPad. I had no idea how she might respond but my husband and I thought that it just might be the thing that could work and so we gave it a try. Wow! I could tell immediately that it piqued her interest and things just took off from there. She has learned so much since then and she loves to keep learning and trying new things…a little bit at a time. We often have an “iPad learning session” together when I visit. What a change that new piece of technology brought and what a joy to see it open up a whole new world for her! You see my mom is a caregiver, not just for one person but for two. That’s tough. You get tired and stressed, you can feel isolated, and the day-to-day routine is relentlessly boring. What a difference it can make for someone in difficult circumstances like that to have an iPad, a computer, or a smart phone that can offer a link to so many good things! My mom has made friends across the country and around the world just by playing Words With Friends. Now I can I send her email and she texts me from her iPhone. I introduced her to apps, got her setup on Facebook, and now she’s saying things like, “Oh, I found that on Pinterest.”
So what did I end up doing with my MLS degree, my love of helping people, all of my experiences along the way, and that dream to launch my own entrepreneurial adventure? I started Websmartboomer. I started this site because I want older adults engaged in the online world. I want them to find the information and resources that they need. I want to help people to connect more with others and to keep learning. My goals are to make it fun, easy, and inviting for the over 50 community to discover new things and develop new web skills.
Everything on the site is free for everyone but the content is for boomers and seniors. Membership is free and it’s great because it gives people the opportunity to take part in discussion forums so that they can ask questions and share about technology and the web in a comfortable environment. A membership account also opens up the social commenting features and members get a newsletter too. I want everyone who drops by to find helpful resources and I hope that boomers everywhere will join.
I’ll never forget one student at the reference desk after I taught her a simple shortcut on the computer. With a big smile she grabbed my arm, looked straight into my eyes, and enthusiastically said, “You just changed my life!” That’s what I’m working toward with Websmartboomer. I hope that you enjoy my site and check back regularly for the good things that I’ve got planned to share.
Do you sometimes wonder if your elderly loved one is depressed? Depression is a common problem. Maybe you have been concerned that a parent or elderly family member may not just be feeling blue but may be suffering from this treatable medical condition. According to the CDC, “about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more. Depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer) or whose function becomes limited.”
Depression screening tools don't diagnose depression but they can be used to see if someone has symptoms of depression. The well-known Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) is an easy-to-use questionnaire designed for older adults. Users respond in a “Yes/No” format. For people who are aphasic (have lost their ability to speak) this tool allows them to simply point to "yes" or "no". Scoring is easy. Here's where you can get the GDS on the web:
Short Form (15 questions with automatic scoring and scoring information)
For information on a free iPhone or Android app for the GDS screening tool, other language translations of the questionnaire, or prorating scoring instructions for those who have difficulty completing the questions then go to this page.