Can Digital Technology Enhance Social Connectedness Among Older Adults? A Feasibility Study
Journal of Applied Gerontology
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2019
Pages: 49 - 72
Source ID: shanti-sources-113886
Collection: Social Connection and Well-being
Abstract: This study examined the feasibility of a novel communication technology to enhance social connectedness among older adults in residential care. Research suggests that technology can create opportunities for social connectedness, helping alleviate social isolation and loneliness. Studies on implementation and feasibility of such technological interventions, particularly among frail and institutionalized older adults, are scant. Data were gathered in a 3-month deployment with 12 older adults, including semistructured interviews with participants and relatives/friends, psychometric scales, field observations, and usability tests. Data were analyzed with qualitative profiling, thematic analysis, and Friedman tests. The technology was a feasible communication tool, although requiring an adaptation period. Use increased perceived social interaction with ties, but increased social connectedness (meaningful social interaction) was only reported by participants with geographically distant relatives. Sense of well-being and confidence with technology was enhanced, but negative effects were also observed. Findings are useful for researchers and practitioners interested in technological interventions.