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Good broadband means good health for older Mainers

AARP Maine says reliable broadband is a necessity for older Mainers.

MAINE, USA — We've spent the better part of the last three years connecting with loved ones over screens. For many older people, apart from their phones, those screens were their only connection to the outside world.

But for some in rural areas, their internet connection isn't sustainable.

"It's horrible up here," Paul Armstrong, 63, of Palermo said.

He said that he has a hard time doing just about everything online.

"I'm surprised now because a lot of times people say it sounds like I'm speaking with helium with the connection I get on Zoom," Armstrong said.

And he's not alone. AARP leaders say only 63 percent of people who live in rural areas have internet, and older people are more likely to live in rural communities than in larger cities or towns.

Noel Bonam is the Maine state director at AARP and said Maine has work to do in the broadband department.

"[In] making sure that as we plan for the future with broadband that we are addressing these inequities," Bonam said.

He added broadband is used by older Mainers for a variety of reasons, like shopping online and telehealth, so they don't have to leave the house. 

"The pandemic has made it very clear that people need good [sounding], strong broadband," Bonam said.

And of course, to connect with loved ones to try and fight the isolation of being home alone.

"We know that when older adults, or anyone for that matter, connect with loved ones on a regular basis, it really helps with their quality of life," Bonam added.

He said we all need broadband, and encouraged everyone to pressure their state and federal leaders to support a stronger, faster, more reliable internet.

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