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Elderly person using Macbook
Photo by KimSanDiego

Reducing social isolation

Lesley Brook —

Step by step instructions will help isolated older people to stay connected online.

Nearly half of the people living on their own in Dunedin are aged 65 or older. With advancing age, many older people may develop problems with mobility or have difficulty accessing transport, which can contribute to their social isolation and loneliness. It is well known that loneliness has a detrimental effect on both physical and mental health.

A team of our Nursing students partnered with Age Concern to understand this issue. Members of the team were Eden Hall, Gemma Hardie, Tayla Moodie, Samantha Nicholls, Pop Nilmart, Emily Paine, Hannah Pamment, Juliet Pattison, Paulina Scholze and Sumit Bakshi. They identified that technology is very important, to help isolated older people stay connected online. However, many of these people do not have strong digital literacy skills.

The students developed pamphlets to help educate older people in the use of technology. They chose basic tasks that would be useful for people to know how to do online: banking, online grocery shopping, and using Messenger and Facebook. Each pamphlet sets out simple step by step instructions about how to do one of the tasks. They also designed a fridge magnet with the message "Don't get left behind, get online". These resources have been given to Age Concern for distribution.