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85-year-old grandmother encourages older Americans to use technology during coronavirus outbreak: ‘If I can do it, anyone can’

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Emily Filer, 85, lives in a Virginia Beach retirement community and is encouraging older Americans to use technology to keep their spirits up and stay connected with their families.

“If I can learn it, anyone can learn it,” Filer told Fox News. “The greatest thing is to be able to connect with your family and friends over video, and I try to teach my neighbors here to not be intimidated by technology.”

Filer has been using the Birdsong tablet and interface, a technology originally developed for bedside-use in senior living communities. The company’s CEO, Ben Unkle, has made a free web version of Birdsong available to all seniors to help keep them connected and engaged since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

“When we see an unmet human need, we should try and fill it -- that's just how I was raised,” Unkle told Fox News. “Having earned a living serving seniors, I saw more clearly the gaps in our system and the ways people fall through the cracks. I simply seek to fill as many needs and gaps as I can for as many people as I can serve. Technology has the potential to meet the needs of many in a way we can afford.”

Nursing homes and assisted living facility residents are particularly susceptible to the coronavirus and, in turn, the facilities have ramped up health and safety protocols. That means older Americans like Filer cannot leave the premises or have outside visitors.

“On the one hand, I am not afraid of the coronavirus, but on the other hand, I respect it very much,” said Filer. “Unfortunately, our age group are the ones being hit the hardest, I’m doing all I can do to stay safe. I wear a mask in the hall and I don’t go out.”

Technology like Birdsong has become more important than ever in keeping Filer occupied, entertained, and connected. She uses the company’s word games, virtual learning and spirituality resources to “keep her mind sharp and fend off boredom.”

The highlight for Filer, however, has been having the ability to speak with her grandchildren.

“The most exciting part of my day is speaking with my grandchildren,” said Filer. “I have talked to two out of three of them within the last few days, including my great-granddaughter, whom I have never met.”

For more on Emily Filer and why she’s encouraging older Americans to stay connected, watch the full video above.

Emily DeCiccio is a reporter and video producer for Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio.