Friday, 22 June 2012 01:27

Technology reducing social isolation for elderly

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Researchers at the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, in collaboration with not-for-profit aged care service provider, Benetas, have found that tablet technologies can alleviate feelings of social isolation for older people increasing their wellbeing. 

The team built an iPad application that allows participants to create and share photographs and messages with each other and, the research undertaken by the two organisations found that communications technologies were effective in alleviating social isolation, but could not achieve this alone, with face-to-face engagement an essential part of developing connections.

The findings were published in the Mobile and broadband technologies for ameliorating social isolation in older people  white paper released yesterday, and the Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Frank Vetere from the Department of Computing and Information Systems, said the technology “allowed participants from older age groups who were socially isolated to connect with each other through a specially designed iPad application, Enmesh, facilitated the communication between participants.”

Professor Vetere said the purpose built application was built with older users in mind, allowing them to effectively transmit photos and messages to fellow participants.

The white paper summarises the impact of technology for ameliorating social isolation, and the Australian Research Council is supporting a larger trial of the technology which is due to commence later this year.

Image courtesy of Bigstockphoto

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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