The Social Media for All Elderly People research project clarifies how with the help of social media services it would be possible to enhance the quality of life of elderly people. Ideally it would be possible to keep active those senior citizens living alone, help with home services and prevent loneliness.
At present, it is mainly young people and young adults who make use of the social media. In Finland they are used most by the 16–34 year old age group and least by those over 65. Internet usage is nevertheless increasing among older people and VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland), who are coordinating the project, believe that the use of social media among the elderly would increase if more services were directed towards them.
The international Social Media for All Elderly People project examines what sort of social media services benefit and interest elderly people living at home as well as what could be done to improve their quality of life. The project is developing a prototype social media service and service platform directed towards the elderly. In planning the service, attention is being paid to the specific characteristics of this target group including such issues as changes in the senses, in learning behaviour and in the ease of use of the services. The researchers have already determined the aspirations of elderly people with regard to social media in both Italy and Finland.
Social stimuli enhance the quality of life of elderly people living at home and could prevent, for example, loss of memory and feelings of loneliness. Elderly people living alone could become more secure for example through contact with home help via social media services.
Taking part in the project alongside VTT are the Miina Sillanpää trust, the Conga Group and MediaMill Oy from Finland, Aldia and National Inter-University Consortium for Telecommunications from Italy and Mediasoft from Slovenia. The project is being funded by Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation), the Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Universita e della Ricerca from Italy and the Ministrstvo Za Visoko Solstvo Zannost in Tehnologijo from Slovenia.
Social media to combat loneliness among the elderly
LEHTIKUVA/ HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA