Platform to Enhance the Communication of Elderly Persons – Differences of Rural and Urban Regions

Madeleine Berger* Madeleine Berger*, Furtwangen University, Furtwangen, Germany
Christophe Kunze, Furtwangen University, Furtwangen, Germany
Jennifer Müller, Furtwangen University, Furtwangen, Germany
Alexander Bejan, Furtwangen University, Furtwangen, Germany

Track: Research
Presentation Topic: Building virtual communities and social networking applications for patients and consumers
Presentation Type: Poster presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Last modified: 2014-05-20

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Background: The social-demographic change in Germany is signed by a shift in the age pattern to higher age groups, increasing expectancy of life and coming with that a higher enquiry for preventive-, healthcare-, caring and nursing services. Due to the paradigm “ambulant over stationary” the question how older people can form their life and living environment more independently and more senior-friendly gains importance.
Objective: The main goal of the SONIA project is to determine what simple, suitable for daily use and technical assisted communication offer can be used in real living environments to support elderly people.
Methods: The study design is a mixed method. Several workshops and interviews were conducted in rural and urban areas to determine the needs of elderly people. Parallel to that a literature and market research was done to find out what kind of technologies are suitable for the aim of the project. Due to that, a flexible platform running on Android 10” tablet devices was picked for the field tests. The field tests take place in one urban and two rural test regions in Baden-Württemberg. An ethical review committee approved the concept of the project. The data acquisition of the field tests will be conducted in the form of interviews before, during and after the field test, as well as in two online-assessments.
Results: Due to the early stage of the project, field tests so far only started in the urban test region. Tablets have been handed out to 25 elderly persons early in the year 2014. Training courses, how to use a tablet and apps like the mail program, ChatON, or Skype have been conducted. Since April 2014 a simple platform was installed on all devices to enhance the communication of the test persons among themselves and to build a community. This platform contains features like a notice board and an event calendar. Important to note is, that the moderation of the community is supervised by the quarters manager of the urban test region. The field tests of the rural test regions will start in June and September 2014.
Conclusions: So far, it seems more important what kind of affection elderly persons have to technology and how their knowledge base concerning the usage of technology is, than where they live. Although the analysis of needs showed that clubs have a greater importance in rural areas than in the city, to preserve their social groups is important for both regions. Barrier-free environments are as important in urban regions as in rural regions. To build a regional community for elderly it is important to identify the local social groups and to find moderators to keep communication living.

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