When the joint Los Altos/Los Altos Hills Senior Commission officially formed little more than a year ago, it was charged with serving the interests of one of Los Altos’ largest population groups.
According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Los Altos’ overall population comprises roughly 20 percent seniors 65 and older.
Senior Commission Vice Chairwoman K. Gabrielle Tiemann said one of the group’s greatest challenges during its inaugural year was distributing information about local resources to seniors who aren’t Internet savvy.
To that end, the commission has made headway, creating a senior resource handbook specific to Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, “Resource Information for Seniors.”
“One of the things we felt was that there was so much information out there for seniors, but it encompassed the whole county,” said Tiemann, noting the mobility challenges for some seniors in the community. “We really wanted to make a Los Altos-specific (handbook).”
The handbook provides listings for an array of senior services, including education, food and health services, and social participation opportunities.
Nearly every resource listed, Tiemann noted, can be found in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills or neighboring cities like Mountain View.
For instance, the handbook lists educational opportunities offered through the Senior Center, the Los Altos Hills Parks and Recreation Department, Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education and more. When listing services, the commission was also conscious of the fact that many seniors rely on a fixed income, she said.
Each entry, Tiemann added, includes a complete address and phone number so that seniors don’t have to search online for the information they need.
Physical copies of the handbook are available at the Los Altos Senior Center, the city’s main library and within the city hall offices of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.
“Not everyone in the senior community feels comfortable going online, even though many of our seniors have taken courses on how to use the Internet,” Tiemann said. “For many of them, their comfort is still using print (publications).”
According to a 2009 Pew Research Center study, residents 64 and older make up 11 percent of the adult Internet population in the U.S.
Tiemann cautioned that while some seniors may prefer more traditional ways of researching local services, the desire “to keep current” runs strong among the group.
The Pew Research Center’s study also reported that 73 percent of seniors 64 and older communicate via email. In addition, the study noted that online use for seniors ages 70-75 increased 19 percent over a five-year span – from 26 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2009.
With seniors’ burgeoning use of the Internet in mind, Tiemann said the Los Altos Senior Center is a good local starting point for a crash course in online know-how.
The center regularly schedules low-cost classes on basic Internet use, including courses on Facebook, Skype and Twitter. In addition, course offerings include photo editing and online shopping.
“The Internet can be overwhelming and frustrating for some,” Tiemann said. “On the other hand, we also see many seniors in Los Altos with tablets, iPads and smartphones in hand.”
For more information, call the Los Altos Senior Center at 947-2797 or visit www.losaltosrecreation.org. To access an online version of the resource handbook, visit the Senior Commission page of the city’s website www.losaltosca.gov.