Isolation is a social problem that affects nearly one in five older Americans. But technology may be a way to combat isolation among older adults. AARP Foundation selected Sioux Falls as a pilot community to put ipads to in the hands of local seniors to help them connect with their community and increase social engagement.
The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society will implement the pilot program this fall at four of its Sioux Falls locations including Creekside Apartments, Meadowstone Apartments, Gardenstone Apartments and Crescent Villa. The already-selected 55 participants will receive iPad tablets, Internet service, volunteer-led instruction, training and support for six months.
The Good Samaritan Society has collaborated with University of South Dakota (USD) social work and occupational therapy faculty to recruit students to serve as volunteers to teach the participants how to use an iPad, social media and online apps. Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), an organization that provides technology trainings to seniors, has trained and will support the volunteers.
“We’re thrilled Sioux Falls was selected as a pilot community for this effort,” said Sarah Jennings, state director for AARP South Dakota. “We all want to live in our homes and communities as a long as we’re able. Keeping people connected to their families, their faith communities and others has the potential to ensure someone can live where they choose, as long as they choose. This has tremendous potential especially in some of our state’s even more rural areas.”
“Our collaboration with AARP Foundation, Older Adults Technology Services, and University of South Dakota is an exciting first step and an amazing way to explore how technology and training for older adults can help stem the problem of social isolation,” said Bill Anderson, Vice President for Quality, Innovation, and Change Engineering at the Good Samaritan Society. “AARP Foundation’s Connecting to Community pilot — and the Society’s foundational relationship with them on this work — is sure to be a success for those we serve and the organizations and institutions participating.”
How are you using technology to stay connected to family, friends, or the larger community? Do you know an older adult who is using technology to stave off isolation? We want to hear about your experiences!