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More Seniors Wising Up to the Web

Internet: Millions of older adults are using computers to tap into information on such topics as travel, health and finances.

May 01, 2000|From Hartford Courant

People older than 50 make up the fastest-growing group of Internet users, says the American Assn. of Retired Persons, whose surveys show that millions of older adults have computers and use them regularly.

As cyber-seniors have increased in numbers, so have the number of Web sites and electronic newsletters featuring information on aging. These days, computer-savvy older adults have the latest information on everything from health issues and travel to finances and entertainment as close as their keyboards.

Here are a few of the newest:

As of this month, Social Security recipients can keep up with the latest changes in benefits and rules through a new electronic newsletter from the government.

Subscribers customize the information they receive in free monthly updates from the Social Security Administration. Retirees, for example, can choose to get news about benefits, including announcements of Social Security's annual cost-of-living raises.

The newsletter also includes topics of interest to employees, such as pilot programs to test easier ways of reporting workers' wages to Social Security.

"We hope that beneficiaries, workers, employers and professionals who handle Social Security issues will find Social Security E-News useful and timely," said William Halter, Social Security deputy commissioner.

An e-mail address is all that is needed to receive the newsletter. Those interested can subscribe at the Social Security Administration's Internet site at

The Internet can also be valuable to the millions of Americans who are losing their vision to macular degeneration, the leading cause of legal blindness in Americans older than 55. It affects more older adults than cataracts and glaucoma combined.

The Macular Degeneration Help Center,, contains details on tools and resources on age-related macular degeneration for patients, their families and older adults.

The site is updated frequently with the latest information on research, clinical trials and experimental treatments. A monthly newsletter contains interviews with leading professionals, stories from patients and the "AMD Alert," a column highlighting news as it happens.

The accessible site is designed with the vision-impaired in mind: Colors are high contrast, and print size can be enlarged for easier reading.

As our population ages, estimates are that as many as 1 in 4 adults will provide ongoing care for a family member at some point. Currently, 25 million Americans, most of them women and many of them isolated, are caretakers, and these numbers are increasing.

A new Web site,, offers practical information, animated caretaking demonstrations and online support groups designed to help the needs of home caregivers.

In addition,'s "Ask the Expert" service provides access to medical professionals who respond to individual questions within 48 hours.

Many senior centers and libraries have computers available for public use and offer introductory courses on computer and the Internet.

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