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AT&T Teaches Southern Colorado Seniors How To Use Cell Phones

By: Jason Aubry Email
By: Jason Aubry Email

As technology continues to advance, we all could use a little help keeping up from time to time. Seniors are especially prone to falling behind as lifestyles, financial limitations, and personal choices can keep the ever changing devices out of their hands. But when they do get a new cell phone many of them just want to be able to use its basic functions. "I just want to call out on the phone and answer the phone and and that's it. I don't need the rest of this stuff," says Pat Spaeth, a Pueblo resident.

Spaeth has had the same basic cell phone for about a year and a half, and had no idea how to answer a call, check her voicemail, or even set it up. She says, at times, it was frustrating. "I punch the buttons and I do everything I am supposed to do and I stand there and just wait. And when nothing happens, I just shake my head and most of the time I just shut the phone and forget it," says Spaeth.

She isn't the only one who used to give up when technology wouldn't cooperate. "I know people with phones that just don't use them because they just can't figure them out," says Spaeth. It's a trend Timi Aguilar, a representative of AT&T has seen a lot. "Their kids have sent them phones to be on their plans, well this is a fancy, awesome phone, but [they] can't use it," Aguilar explains.

That's why Aguilar and a handful of AT&T employees volunteered their time to teach seniors at the SRDA in Pueblo, Wednesday. Seniors met with an AT&T representative for a one-on-one class to answer any and all questions they had. Some were basic, like how do they turn the phone on and off; others were complex, such as how do they store numbers in the phone’s address book.

The face-to-face help, was a smash hit with the seniors who say one of their biggest cell phone problems is the operation manuals. "I have this phone and I have this book, but the book is this typical Chinese, it just makes no sense to me," says Spaeth. By the end of her 20-minute session Spaeth was already looking forward to her next upgrade. "I found out I had things on the phone I didn't even know I had. If I get good enough on this, I'll get a better fancier one," says Spaeth.

As a new generation of baby-boomers begin to gain senior status, more and more seniors are seeking out ways to stay connected to the world around them. Today's seniors witnessed the evolution of telephones from party-lines and giant crank operated boxes on their kitchen walls to the slim, ultra-lightweight pieces of plastic and computer chips we carry in our pockets. So it's no surprise that when Wednesday's class was announced, it filled up almost immediately. The waiting list was so long, and the class went so well, they are already talking about how and when another can be arranged.

Until then, here is an easy stop we can all take in case of an emergency:

Take the number for who should be called in the case of an emergency (ie. your injured or unconscious) and program it into your cellphone address book or contact list under the name "ICE". If you need help, first responders are trained to look for this exact entry in your phone.


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