If you find it difficult to get about, then the internet can be a great source of friendship and chat. Gransnet is a prime example and is excellent for older people who have even a smattering of computer or Ipad ability, particularly if they live alone or are less mobile than they used to be. If you are hesitant to learn how, here at last is a good reason for becoming computer and internet literate. There is usually someone online chatting all day and a lot of the night.
Last year, after 49 years of marriage, I lost my dear husband. I don’t need to tell you what that was like, it is an experience shared with many people of our age. My family were wonderfully supportive, as were my friends and neighbours, and I began to rebuild a new life.
I shopped on my own with a wheeled trolley instead of a car (I don’t drive) and I used my bus pass to travel around on my own. I kept hospital appointments on my own and waited, on my own, for test results. I met friends for meals and coffee, cooked for my family when they could visit, ate with them when I could visit them. They work hard and have their own commitments and responsibilities, and are scattered about, but they keep in touch and include me in many things.
But when you live alone, the evenings are very long, and you can’t keep phoning the same busy people to keep you company. However, I had a lifeline. I had joined Gransnet while my husband was terminally ill, and had made some good online friends. When I could not sleep I could go online and check in, and there was usually someone sitting up late or awake early to chat to. After he died, there were many messages of love and support from others who had travelled the same road and knew how it felt.
Then four of us decided to meet in person and get lunch out in Edinburgh. That was such fun that we have met again several times, joined by a few more online friends. I can truthfully say that I have dozens of friends on Gransnet, some of whom I have met, some are just penpals, all of them are excellent company.
What do we talk about online? Everything you would talk about over a cup of tea or across the garden fence. Well, yes, everyone likes to talk about their grandchildren, that is why it is called Gransnet, but we talk about far more than that, conversations have included such topics as divergent as universal benefits, to how to un-stick a sticker!
The national Gransnet site has been going for about two years now, as a social networking website for older people, and has over 500,000 page views a month. Now local pages have been launched for about 20 areas, from Southwest England to Edinburgh. So far Edinburgh is the only Scottish site but others are planned, and other Scots are welcomed there.
Oh, I nearly forgot an important feature – several meetings are being planned by people who live in the same area (or even far away from each other – invitations are not exclusive) The next Edinburgh one will be on 11th May at the Cafe in the National Gallery on the Mound, and will be a very informal coffee and cake session, for existing members and those thinking of joining. These meetings are usually very lively and fun affairs, with much chat and consumption of tea and coffee and cakes, and sometimes other beverages.
Gransnet Local Editor – Edinburgh