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How technology helps overcome the loneliness of older people

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According to a study conducted by the University of Stirling in Scotland, the blockade of Covid-19 has prompted many older people to embrace technology, reconnect with friends, and build new relationships with their neighbors. Understanding the coping mechanisms adopted by people over the age of 60 during a pandemic plays an important role in developing interventions to address loneliness, isolation, and future well-being.

The study, led by the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sports, surveyed 1,429 participants, 84% (1,198) of whom were 60 or older, and many used video conferencing technology to interact with existing social networks. Increased contact and discovered that other participants had reconnected to their previous network. .. Participants reported that the blockade was the first to interact with neighbors and other members of the community, but by emphasizing that social distance was important to them, it added additional meaning to life. Some said it was. It was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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Preliminary findings of this study, funded under the rapid study of the COVID-19 program at the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, reported that social distance increased the loneliness of older people. This study, conducted between May and July 2020, investigated the impact of social distance during pandemics on social activities, including loneliness, well-being, and social support for older people in Scotland.

“In our study, the blockade of Covid-19 caused loneliness in older people, and many did not experience much social contact or support,” said Anna Whittaker, a professor of behavioral medicine who led the study. However, the study also highlighted positive results. For example, due to the blockade, some older people have adopted technologies such as Zoom, Whatsapp, and FaceTime to get involved and contact their loved ones. I started to compete and participate in athletic classes and religious groups. “

People engaged in such activities were able to prevent high levels of loneliness, which helped older people improve their digital literacy. The use of remote social interactions can be a really important tool for dealing with loneliness, the study says. “Participants also reported that they were actively looking for new social contacts while the restrictions were in place. For example, contact with friends who hadn’t talked for years, neighbors and communities. For example, increased interaction with other members. Importantly, many of the participants reported that they were socially distant. In fact, they began to find new sources of satisfaction in life. “It was,” said Whittaker.

“Our research also encourages safe social contact through physical activity and engaging with local people is effective in reducing loneliness, improving well-being, increasing social activity and improving social support. I emphasized that it might be the way to go, “added Whittaker.

Participants were asked about the strategies they adopted to increase social interaction during this period and reported that their friends, family, beliefs, and, to a lesser extent, their employers and colleagues had changed. Over 300 participants mentioned “zoom” (video conferencing tool) in their responses.

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More than 150 participants reported that religious gatherings have moved online and have replaced face-to-face gatherings. Meanwhile, 91 said the social gathering with family and friends changed in favor of the online “Game Night.” New activities include Bingo and Quiz Nights, and other activities such as Bridge Nights, Reading Clubs, Choir Rehearsals, Dance and Exercise Classes have moved online.

The role of the community, especially its neighbors, was mentioned by more than 300 participants, some of whom met previously unknown neighbors and interacted with others in the community at local shops and parks. Reported the general experience of increasing. A pleasant Scottish summer also supported such an interaction, some said.

At least 100 people say that social interactions are related to physical activity, such as walking for exercise, walking dogs, and spending time outdoors while commuting actively. I did.

Professor Whittaker said: “Our study emphasizes the importance of addressing loneliness and social support in older people, especially in situations where there is a high risk of isolation. Although unique to pandemics, this study has implications. It has a broader meaning of helping to understand the impact of social distance and social isolation on the elderly.

“The findings may apply in the future, both inside and outside the pandemic situation. In Scotland, recommendations for improvement encourage older people to get to know their neighbors better and local. Participating in the buddy system and community initiatives of. Digital means engaging in physical activity such as daily walks in the community. “

Age Scotland CEO Brian Sloan may find it difficult to think of every aspect of the pandemic that way, but that taught us both about ourselves and society, and what we need to do. He said it was important and valuable to look back. A tool for tackling the rising levels of loneliness and isolation in Scotland. “For example, we’ve seen first-hand how important community response is in helping older people in blockades, and how people across the country intervene to help people in need. And it was exciting to see if we made progress. We hope that this sense of community spirit will continue even if the restrictions are relaxed. ”

The continued impact of Covid-19 also shows how important the increase in digital inclusion is, Sloan added. “But it’s just as important for people who can’t or don’t want to use the Internet to stay connected to the community and have alternative ways to support the network,” he pointed out.

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