Sylvie Anderson, 72, poses in this undated handout photo. Sylvie Anderson, 72, says she didn’t know what a podcast was before learning how to record them and stay connected during the pandemic as part of a senior’s centre project in Vancouver. (Ying Xiao photo)

Senior podcasters take on tech to stay connected with each other and the world

City of Vancouver providing some of the funding this year to the 411 Seniors Centre Society for podcast project

Podcasting seemed like a frightening technological venture for Sylvie Anderson before she “gave it a whirl” with a group trying to stay connected during the pandemic through shared stories.

“I barely knew what it was,” she says. ”I had heard the term, but I certainly hadn’t listened to one.”

Anderson, 72, is among a group of seniors eager to learn how to participate in the ”Powered by Age” podcast, with the city of Vancouver providing some of the funding this year to the 411 Seniors Centre Society.

Charlotte Ferrell, co-ordinator of podcasting for the centre, says planned podcasts follow a four-part series produced last year as part of a pilot project.

Ferrell, 73, jokingly calls the current project ”podcasts on steroids” and says each episode will feature three, eight-minute segments on topics ranging from managing diabetes, surviving cancer as well as lighter fare involving arts and culture.

One participant is planning to interview centenarians and has lined up a chat with a 100-year-old woman who is still a choir director at her church, Ferrell says, adding the podcasts will be available on nine platforms.

“Some of the things people want to talk about are non-traditional relationships,” she says, including an upcoming segment involving a woman who will discuss the struggles she faced as a lesbian when her partner died.

The centre reached out to four other seniors’ centres in the Vancouver area to recruit potential podcasters and now has 44 people ready to learn, she says.

“Part of our purpose is to share this model we’re working through with other cities,” says Ferrell, who was a health promotion officer for Toronto Public Health during the HIV crisis.

Some of the latest recruits to podcasting weren’t too tech savvy but those with some experience have taught others to use various online sites like Facebook and Zoom so they can stay connected while remaining apart from each other as well as friends and family, Ferrell says.

The group had scheduled a second meeting Thursday via Zoom to discuss some podcast segments while the centre and a recording studio in the same building are closed due to physical distancing measures.

Aspiring podcasters have learned to use recorders on their phones to practise their podcasting voices so they can record stories and poems.

“There’s this voice recording app thing that’s now on my phone,” Anderson says. “And I had not encountered Zoom till last Thursday.”

Hearing her voice was the toughest part for Anderson when she went into the recording studio in February.

“I found that terrifying, absolutely terrifying, but in a good way. I was screeching into the microphone,” she says with a laugh.

She hopes to explore social issues and neighbourhood happenings as part of her contribution to the podcast.

“When you’ve grown up in a generation and you’ve experienced certain things in your lifetime there is a sense of community that exists there, and to talk about things that inspire us, things that interest us, things that piss us off.”

Emily Hsu started some educational sessions on podcasting at the 411 Seniors Centre at the same time that Anderson joined in but was already an avid fan of podcasts, especially those involving health.

She plans to record podcasts about mindful eating and says staying at home is a great time to learn about slowing down and learning to taste food for good health.

“With social distancing there’s no meeting or gathering so podcasting, I think, is a channel to reach out to people and give them comfort,” says Hsu, who is a life coach.

Andrew Sixsmith, director of the Science and Technology for Aging Research Institute at Simon Fraser University, visited the 411 Seniors Centre last year to learn about the podcasting project.

The unique initiative shows seniors are a resilient group that is not only vulnerable to COVID-19, says Sixsmith, who is also scientific director of Age Well, Canada’s technology and aging network.

“Yes, the majority of deaths have been for people over 65, but the over-65 population is very, very heterogeneous, both in terms of their susceptibility to COVID-19 but also everything else — their situations, their abilities and their education,” he says.

“We often think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but actually a lot of seniors are able to use technology and they’re stepping up to the challenge.”

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province buys Paul’s Motor Inn to house Victoria’s homeless population

Inn is the second hotel the province has purchased to support vulnerable community

Fire at Victoria hotel contained to one room, leaves 20 suites in need of remediation

Fire crews extinguished the blaze at the Comfort Inn in 12 minutes

Telus headquarters to come to Victoria in ‘landmark building’ development

City sells land on coroner of Douglas and Humboldt streets for $8.1 million

Victoria man identified as victim in Thunder Bay murder

Police investigating after Paul Vivier, 29, discovered in hotel

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit arrived as whale broke free from prawn trap line

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Most Read