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Online Platform Helps Older Michiganders Get Connected, Socialize

Relaxing Asian Senior Couple having fun with laptop computer.
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Nearly 40% of Michigan households include at least one member over age 60. ent.

More than 40% of older Michiganders live alone, and studies show the pandemic has exacerbated loneliness for many.

The State of Michigan has renewed a partnership with GetSetUp, an online learning platform, which can help seniors learn how to stay social and connected from home.

Kayla Smith, health promotion and wellness coordinator for the Michigan Bureau of Aging, Community Living and Supports, said the program has supported many older people in getting the hang of Zoom in a safe environment, and from there, all kinds of classes become available.

"There are a lot of classes that focus on health and wellness, and other topics," Smith explained. "Like the Detroit Hustle, which is a Michigan favorite. There are various morning fitness classes, and even a class on decluttering your home."

Smith added Michiganders who want to join the platform can go online to getsetup.io/michigan. If anyone wants to help a family member or friend start their own account, they can visit the website getsetupfriend.com to walk them through the process. The platform can also be accessed at any library, where library staff can answer questions.

Lawrence Kosik, co-founder and president of GetSetUp, started the platform to empower older adults with online learning and virtual education. He noted since the program started, Michigan learners have become educators themselves, teaching other classes on the platform. And in the first year of the partnership with the state, more than 108,000 people signed up.

"That whole peer-to-peer live interactive piece has been really wonderful," Kosik remarked. "And you not only learn the things that you want and need to learn, but you make friends, and you form groups, and you come back and take classes with those friends. So, we like to say that people come for the learning, but often times, they stay for the socialization."

He added GetSetUp was started before the pandemic, but met a key need during those long months of isolation, helping people learn how to do things from ordering groceries and medicines online, to doing their banking and using telehealth.

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