When you think of older adults and the younger generation, you may picture a generation gap that can’t be bridged, but you’d be wrong. The younger generation is interacting with seniors in new ways, and studying those interactions, with today’s cutting edge technology.
Isolation in Seniors is a Worldwide Issue
No matter where senior lives, they face the possibility of isolation and loneliness. Too often, a senior finds themselves in a situation where their family lives many miles away and their network of friends has dwindled until they have no one to spend time with. This level of isolation can lead to health issues, depression, and even early death.
That’s why countries around the world have started to address this issue. In the United Kingdom, there is a new national campaign aimed at ending the cycle of isolation. The program looks at loneliness as a public health issue and deals with it as such.
This means using government resources to combat isolation as well as using volunteers to visit seniors or give them a call to help make their day a little better. In addition, the program provides activities for seniors to help them get involved and reduce the loneliness they feel.
In Canada, a private organization, the St. Elizabeth Agency, provides visits to seniors across the country. In addition, the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto has volunteers make phone calls to seniors weekly.
Combating Loneliness in Seniors in the United States
Not to be outdone, a group of three college students in Michigan has taken up residence at a senior citizen retirement community as part of a research project. The three Western Michigan University students will live with eighty seniors for nineteen months.
This research project is looking at the effects of loneliness and isolation as well as the stereotypes younger people tend to have about older adults as well as the other way around.
The end goal of the project is to find ways that the younger generation can connect with the older generation to help combat isolation and loneliness. Another similar program is being conducted by the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Arts. While these programs are not research based, their goal is the same.
Using Modern Technology to Reduce Isolation in Seniors
Meanwhile, in Fremont, Ohio, Ross High School students are working with seniors in their community to teach them how to use the latest technology. This includes working with smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
The school’s Teen Leadership Corps host a monthly event called Coffee with Giants. This event brings in seniors over the age of sixty and helps them learn all the new technology.
From learning how to upload and use the newest phone apps to learning how to send digital photos to a drugstore to be printed at a later time and even texting and email, seniors are learning ways to stay connected to the world and their extended families.
Staying connected and fighting isolation is important for every age group, and for seniors, it is doubly important. With today’s technology and support from private and public organizations, there is help available for a senior in your life, so don’t allow loneliness to creep in and take over.
Do you know of seniors who have benefitted from technology to conquer isolation? Have you helped any seniors get a better understanding of programs, apps, and more that’s out there? Let us know in the comments below.