YWCA Houston

At YWCA Houston, Tech Donations Help Seniors Manage Their Health Online

The YWCA Houston is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting freedom and dignity for all. The YWCA recognizes that not only must it work on these issues but it must also include health, fitness, and wellness as strategic initiatives in all activities of the organization. Thanks to Microsoft donations provided through TechSoup, the YWCA Houston has been able to use technology in innovative ways that have enabled new services and enhanced the quality of existing services.

One great example is how the YWCA Houston helped low-income seniors use technology. The organization provides meals to 1,000 seniors in the Houston area daily and helps them with other support services. In recent years, there has been a large growth in the amount of online health information for older adults. However many of the older adults that need this information have unique physical and motor difficulties or cognitive impairments that impact their ability to use technology.

A health communication program named Partnering with Seniors for Better Health was created to help bridge this digital divide. It offered a five-week education program to teach low-income seniors about computers and also to determine what factors contribute to the divide. Of the137 seniors who participated in the study 64 percent of their annual family incomes were below the $10,000 poverty line. About 70 percent had never used a computer before, and more than 80 percent had never had access to the Internet. When asked why they had not used a computer, 43 percent stated that they didn't have the opportunity to learn.

At the end of the test program, 95 percent of the seniors said that they felt more confident in exploring health information online. These same seniors also planned to use the health information they found on the Internet to manage their illnesses and get information about their prescriptions and Medicare benefits.