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By Jim Gerland and Mark Winer

Check out our bi-weekly Net perspective. Our goal is to make these columns useful for our readers whether they be novice or pro, while still offering a fun to read column. Feel free to let us know what Internet resources you find useful in your personal, educational, or business life - it might just end up in one of our columns!


Seniors on the 'Net
November 4, 1998

Two years ago we wrote an article about senior citizens using the Internet. At that time older people were just beginning to find out some of the benefits the World Wide Web had to offer them. Although we mentioned over 20 web sites related to seniors the major use by seniors at that time was simply sending email to communicate with their friends or to stay in touch with their families. A lot has changed during the last two years. International Communications has an excellent web site, www.headcount.com, which provides a wealth of demographic information about who is using the web. They house a report from IDC/Relevant Knowledge, www.idcresearch.com, from May 1998 that claims that 14% of all web home users are over 50 years of age. We have a big suspicion that number is much higher though.

As we mentioned, there are many Internet sites targeted specifically for seniors-line. These sites provide a information about government programs, non-profit organizations, and other programs available to seniors. There are also on-line shopping, legal and financial services, health and fitness areas, and retirement services for those enjoying their golden years. Many of the sites we mentioned in out November 1996 column, internet-guys.com/ig-26.html, have been redesigned so we thought we'd take another look at some of them and also mention a few of the new sites dedicated to seniors.

The first stop for local information is the Senior Center at the Buffalo Free-Net, bfn.org/senior . This area is maintained by Neil Yerkey, senior@bfn.org, the president of the Buffalo Free-Net. Included in this site are links to local bulletin boards and discussion groups as well as links to national, state and local agencies with information geared towards seniors.

Over at the Erie County Senior Services Department, www.erie.gov/depts/senidept.phtml , you can find a listing of the services they offer. However, they have not yet developed that web page to include additional pointers to more information about any of those areas. A search of their site on the word senior only returned a list of Civil Service Opportunities (it found the word seniority). In a future column we'll talk about how to do use certain search engines more effectively to find the information you're looking for.

The New York State Office for the Aging's home page, www.aging.state.ny.us/nysofa/, is designed to assist older New Yorkers and their families and those concerned about providing opportunities and services to enrich the lives of older people and support their independence. This site has links to over 100 places of interest to seniors, care givers, professionals and students, in areas ranging from active older adults to caregiving to law. They're added a new area called Aging Well, agingwell.state.ny.us, which has an emphasis on the health and wellness of mature adults.

Not to be out done, the Federal government has two good sites for seniors. At the Special Committee on Aging's home page, www.senate.gov/~aging, you can find information about the Committee Members, look up Committee publications, or find out what the Committee is doing. You can also email the Committee at mailbox@aging.senate.gov. The Administration on Aging, www.aoa.dhhs.gov, also has a good home page with pointers to information for the families of older persons, practitioners and other professionals, and a link to the Aging Network Resources page of links. Of course, the one government web site of interest to all taxpayers, young and old, is Social Security Online, www.ssa.gov, the official Web site of the Social Security Administration.

We found the Yahoo! Seniors' Guide, seniors.yahoo.com, to be another good site where seniors searching for information might begin their electronic journey. They've done a great job of finding and organizing web accessible information into categories such as books, computers, finance, genealogy, health, and travel.

We found a number of web sites devoted to issues that seniors or those caring for them might find useful. AdultCare Inc., www.adultcare.com, has a library of their previous articles and a link to their soon to be available CareAdvisor area. The Proto Care home page, quickcare.org, also has a Med Care Advisory area coming soon. Must be a sign of where online senior care information is heading. For those of you who might be dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's, you may be interested in visiting the Alzheimer's Association, www.alz.org, site for information about this disease.

As you might expect many of the more prominent seniors related organizations have Internet resources available. The American Association of Retired Persons, www.aarp.org, has a wonderful web site. The AARP Webplace has areas for Care Givers, Computers and Technology, and even an area devoted to helping mature drivers improve their driving skills. The National Council on the Aging, www.ncoa.org, is one the world's leading organization representing agencies and individuals committed to the well-being of  our increasing older population. Their web site has an area devoted to their public advocacy and policies work on behalf of older Americans. They also have an area for members only where we were pleasantly surprised to learn that they have reduced membership rates for students and retirees.

There are so many sites devoted specifically to the needs and interests of those aged 50 and over that we couldn't possibly list them all in this column. We recommend that you visit Yahoo!, www.yahoo.com, or AltaVista, altavista.com, and so a search on "+seniors +care" or "+seniors +health". Remember not to include the quotes when you do your search. The plus sign (+) in front of each search term help you narrow down your results and increase the chances that what you find is what you're looking for.

In addition to the resources we've mentioned above you may want to visit SeniorCom, www.senior.com. This site has a chat room where seniors can interact with each other in real time. They also offer the ability for you to build your own eHouse and have your own home page on the web. Senior-Citizen.Com, www.senior-citizen.com, is another good place to find links to senior-related sites dealing with health, travel, money, and leisure.

Finally, we want to continue to help you utilize the Internet in your life. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll check it out. You can email us, ig@internet-guys.com, or fax us, (716) 853-1350 and let us know what's happening on the Internet in WNY or any computing related activities you're involved with.