Technological advancements to address elderly loneliness: Practical considerations and community resilience implications for COVID-19 pandemic
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CitationConroy, Kristina, Srikripa Krishnan, Stacy Mittelstaedt, and Sonny S. Patel. Technological advancements to address elderly loneliness: Practical considerations and community resilience implications for COVID-19 pandemic (2020).
AbstractPurpose: Loneliness has been a known severe public health concern among the elderly population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this paper is to discuss the practicalities of using emerging technologies to address elderly loneliness and its implications and adaptations to the outbreak of coronavirus disease–2019.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw on examples from the literature and their own observations from working with older adults, to provide an overview of possible ways technology could help this population in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Findings: Technological advancements have offered remarkable opportunities to deliver care and maintain connections despite the need to stay physically separated. These tools can be integrated into crisis communications, public health responses, and care programs to address loneliness among the elderly. However, it must be done strategically and informed by the type of loneliness at play, environmental factors, socioeconomics, and technological literacy.
Originality: Technological advancements can be a valuable tool in addressing known public health concerns, such as loneliness among the elderly populations. However, the use of this tool should be governed by the specific situation at hand, taking into consideration individual needs and environmental factors, especially the compounded effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Different technological programs and approaches are appropriate for different types of loneliness. For example, online therapy such as internet-based cognitive behavior therapy may mitigate loneliness caused by fear; online interaction such as videoconferencing may relieve loneliness caused by lack of social engagement.
Practical implications: Care-providing organizations and policy makers should consider the risk of loneliness while responding to COVID-19 outbreak, particularly within elderly populations. As part of a broader plan, technological solutions as well as low-tech approaches can make a difference in mitigating loneliness. Solutions should be accessible to and usable by older adults. Provision of equipment, training, and guidance may be necessary to execute a technology-centric plan; for some communities and individuals, approaches that do not rely on advanced technology may be more effective.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364389
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