Mutual Benefit

Wednesday, 7 July 2010, 04:22 PM
by Emma Land

It was during a meeting in Portugal that the importance of the future role of senior citizens was clearly identified. During a break from the presentations and workshops various partners were telling funny stories about their working lives and some of the circumstances they had found themselves in. This particular story was told by Rudy who, although originally from Holland , was now working in Portugal. He recalled his early years working in the field of local development in Rotterdam as follows:

“It was my first real work after finishing my studies and a group of us were calling to senior citizens throughout the community to see how we could help them. I knocked on the door of this particular house and this little old lady answered and the following conversation ensued:

Rudy: I’m from the local university and we are visiting all senior citizens in the area. I was wondering if there was anything we could do for you?

Old Lady: Anything you could do for me! Do you know who I am?

(I was somewhat taken aback by her response but I continued)

Rudy: We are just trying to see if we could help in any way.

Old Lady: You call to my house and you ask is there anything you can do for me. Do you know who I am? You should be asking if there is anything I could do for you.

(I was now completely on the back foot)

Rudy: I’m sorry I don’t know who you are.

Old Lady: I make the best apple pie in Holland. And it is official. I make the best apple pie in Holland and you want to know if there is anything you could do for me.

It turned out that the Old Lady in question had worked for over 50 years in the kitchen of the Royal Palace and that the Queen of Holland had declared that she made the best apple pie in Holland. After several further visits and conversations the Old Lady agreed to teach Dutch women how to bake apple pie and other culinary delights.

I am really grateful to Rudy for telling this story as it is clear evidence that senior citizens - no matter what their current circumstances, and regardless of whatever pre-conceived notions we may have – are important members of our society and have as much to give to younger generations as they have to benefit from any development that LaterLife might achieve.

I hope the message is clear for everyone to understand. LaterLife can provide a valuable and tangible resource for all age groups to engage with senior citizens in our community, to learn from their life experiences, and enjoy the benefits of their knowledge.


Why LaterLife? Info exclusion and isolation

Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 11:56 PM
by SCMS - Portugal

I feel very privileged for being part of the lives of so many senior students that attend UTIS (the Third Age University), in Santarém. The university started out as a project developed by SCMS, partnered by the city hall and the Junta de Freguesia de Marvila, since 2004. I say I feel privileged because, quite frequently, they come to me with their stories, past and present, looking for someone to share their joys and anguishes with, hoping I listen and sometimes expecting me to come up with ways to cope with what they perceive as overwhelming problems. I hope I will not be indiscreet if I share with you that often senior students confess to me they feel sad and removed for not being able to participate in a world of an ever-changing technology. These feelings surface as they have never learned how to use a computer or, if they did, it happened within their professional context, with a specific software and associated with the functions they performed at work. And nowadays even their children and grandchildren already communicate over the internet! The desire of learning how to use a computer and the internet, shortening time and distances between family members, allied with the curiosity they have for learning the language of “cybernauts”, makes our IT course one of the most sought after in our university. It were all these stories that made us believe here at SCMS that seniors are willing to face new challenges, and more—they need them to feel actively alive. In addition, by overcoming these challenges, they find and face new others, in a constant wish to return to their youth days. It was for all these reasons that we weren’t assailed by doubts nor hesitations when we were invited to join the LaterLife project and its challenge. It being the first European online social network for senior citizens is for all intents and purposes a reason that alone justifies our enthusiasm. Therefore, I know soon enough I will have around me UTIS students using the LaterLife website to find new and old friends, receiving information on events and services, shopping online, and maybe, learning a new language. Thank you, LaterLife!!!


Why LaterLife?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 11:54 PM
by Zbigniew Durczok

So, come on teacher to the blackboard. Why 'LaterLife'? I could answer very simply using another question – Why not? Indeed , why not?

In my case, it was a component of some reasons. I will try to explain them.

I am 50 + or 60 – , retired ,so I am 'the LaterLifer' ( feeling like middlelifer , sometimes even like earlierlifer) .

Being a member of the board of our U3A I work with 'students' 50+ . They have a lot to share and still a lot to learn .Thus Internet and PC can help them in it. But a lot of them are 'afraid of mouse'. I watched one lesson , when two 'students' were sitting by one PC and they were almost threwing mice crying : Take it! - No it's your turn ! LaterLife should open for them new windows , give them new opportunities, should help their teachers how to teach them.

I have many friends on the Internet , from Hawaii till New Zealand . I regurarly use the room 50_something on ICQ. I meet there many people 50 + , some of them are at the first level with the mouse , they aren't afraid and can catch it and nothing more.

'Restless soul' so call me friends , I think it is the next reason. I don't like vacuuming in my life, always try to find something new , new situations , new challenges like 'LaterLife'.

At the end the most important for me reason – my aunt , my mother's sister. She lived alone after my mother's death. Degenerative joint disease and other dieases immobilesed her at home , later in bed. I bought her an old Nokia mobile phone with simple functions and big buttons. She learnt how to use it very easily. Now many firms produce such models for older people , some years ago only for younger ones. I expected that, she would be a user and a consultant to 'LaterLife' and I thought about teaching her using PC as a contact with the world. Unfortunately she died on Boxing Day last year , just 9th March she was 80 . Despite all these problems she stayed a jocund person.

So it wasn't 'happy end' like in Jennifer's story ,but from another site of life .

So indeed , why not LaterLife?

Zbigniew Durczok

UTW Chrzanów


he benefits of an elderly father...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 11:53 PM
by Declan Cassidy

It's good to see the design we chose up and running and I just had the chance to put it to practical test. My 84 year old father gave it the thumbs up and was able to read, not only the logo but the strap line beneath from eight feet away. That's somewhat beyond 2 metres for all of you advanced Europeans who have managed to move from imperial to metric - a feat I have not managed properly in the twenty or thirty years since it was introduced in Ireland. There is a rather exciting promotional possibility for the project emerging here in Ireland so I'm about to put up a forum post concerning it.



Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 11:51 PM
by rosa lunghi

The common phrase BETTER LATER THAN NEVER has never been more appropriate.

Consider this.

I went to bed at 4 am last night after this very amusing party. No matter how fast I try, my morning starts at least five minutes later.

Washing myself and dressing up takes me half the usual time but still, I am outrageously late. Great! I’ll miss the bus to work so I’ll take a taxi which will be stuck in the traffic and I won’t have time for my coffee either!

Now, you can think negative and start a bad day or.. you may consider the “later” side of life. You can think about how much you enjoyed that party, you’ll have time to look at your beautiful city and you’ll have your coffee comfortably at your favourite café … only LATER.

Well, LaterLife works more or less this way.

If you have always thought that you don’t have time enough to keep in touch with your old friends and that computing or learning a new language would be too hard and timetaking.. don’t worry, LaterLife will help you sort this out. Have you missed the latest news about your local community? Have you remembered of an old experience or a story you would like to share? LaterLife is your later chance to experience things in a positive, comfortable and relaxing way: sitting in your living room or in a cosy café, just using your laptop. And in your Later time of life.. that is when you don’t have to worry about work, timetables or anything!

So… better Later(LIFE) than never!


From horses to cars

Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 11:49 PM
by Marius Quade

When I started with our courses in the so called “Zweite Lebenshaelfte” (50 plus) here in Stuttgart there was often a blank line when our customers should fill in their email-address. Nowadays it is more often a blank line for fax-numbers than for their electronic address. It is a changing from writing letters to writing e-mails. Like yesterdays using of a wagon with horses to nowadays using a car. The automobile replaced the wagons, but the newest car (for example a Porsche) didn’t replace a car itself. Still there are more cars than Porsches on our streets. And so there are also still handwritten letters next to e-mails.

So I wish that the project will be a success story. But don’t forget to write letters by hand or feed the horses. (This is the service part for our English speakers. For more details see the “Blog in German”).

Regards from Stuttgart and Happy Easter! Marius


Why LaterLife?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 09:58 PM
by Jennifer Land

As I volunteered at the last partner meeting to kick-off a blog on the LaterLife website the time has come to exercise my fingers, call on the last few functioning brain cells and talk about the origins of LaterLife.

Thessalonica is where it all started. Now I hear you all ask, what did the Greeks ever do for us? Well actually it was a Finnish speaker at a conference in Thessalonica1. He had just surveyed non-internet users over 50 throughout Finland to find out what could be done to get them interested in technology. The answers were rather unexpectedly honest and heartfelt. “Only if you kicked me” was one that stands out along with “I am too old...I am going to die soon”. With any thoughts of technology for seniors firmly erased from my mind I said a fond farewell to Greece and headed home to the rain in Ireland.

The following Sunday was Bob’s 70th birthday. Family and friends, grandsons and granddaughters all duly arrived bearing the usual gifts. A shirt and tie; socks and slippers; the latest gardening encyclopaedia; golf balls; the list goes on. While all presents were duly received with the customary gratitude one present stood out. It was a new mobile phone. It would take two strong men to lift the old one it replaced which I’m sure was almost as old as myself. The new slimmed-down, multi function Nokia with an in-built digital camera was a real hit, topping the popularity charts. It got me thinking. The issue with technology for seniors is an issue about relevance.

After much debate and discussion, all the grandchildren decided to buy Bob a computer for Christmas. Although he had never had a computer before we were all convinced that, based on the response that the new phone received, a positive result would be had. Armed with the latest flat screen desktop we duly arrived on Christmas Day, in time honoured fashion, to our grandparent’s house. The nice thing about giving computers as presents is that they come in a range of big boxes.

Bob got stuck-in to removing the wrapping paper, opening the first box, pulling at the polystyrene packaging. “It’s a flat screen TV” was the over-joyous reaction. “I’ve wanted one of these for the bedroom for ages”. No one knew where to look. A little sheepish voice in the background said “no granddad, it’s a computer monitor, open the rest of the boxes”. The joy on Bob’s face was immediately replaced by a look of horror. “Oh, Oh, is that what it is?” We all watched on as Bob less enthusiastically opened the remaining boxes. It was like watching someone pealing an onion. The “only if you kicked me” comment came back to mind. I wished I’d kept my ‘good ideas’ to myself. I’m sure my cousins would probably have put it a bit stronger.

As the usual Christmas merriment continued we busied ourselves connecting the cables, installing the software, connecting the webcam and modem. It was 4.30pm in Ireland and as previously arranged with Bob’s brother in Vancouver we hooked up online. “Bob, would you like to talk to Noel in Vancouver?” He got up from his chair and picked up the telephone. “Merry Christmas Noel” but no response. “Hello, Hello, he must have been cut off” Bob put the phone down as we all laughed. “He’s on the computer granddad, come here and you’ll see”

As they say, the rest is history. Bob has talked to Noel at 4.30pm almost every day for the last 3 years. Jokingly, we have told him that it works at other times as well but Bob is a creature of habit. He also talks to Paddy in Cologne and Christy in Manchester. He books his golf tee times online every Monday to get the best special offers; he arranged a cheap golfing break in Portugal with some of his friends; he has googled every plant in his garden and a whole range of absolutely terrible recipes. He is no more a technology buff than he is a Michelin Star chef. For Bob the computer is important. It’s just like the TV remote control; the thermostat on the radiator; the mobile phone. It is technology that makes the quality of his life better.

So the next time someone asks you; “what did the Greeks ever do for us”, tell them about Bob. He is the reason for LaterLife.

Jennifer Land

Meath Partnership

1) European e-Skills 2006 Conference, Thessaloniki: Jouni Kangasniemi, Ministry of Education Finland