Not sure how technology can help people feel less lonely?
Here are a few ideas…
As traditional communities are eroded and families become more dispersed, loneliness and isolation are becoming a major public health challenge. At Digital Communities Wales, we understand how getting online can be transformational for people who would otherwise suffer from loneliness.
Helping someone get online is not a quick process. It can be scary and challenging for someone. But here are ten ways that technology could help them feel more connected.
- Text and instant messaging are a good way to have frequent communication with someone living on their own. Often free or very low cost, messaging can be used to maintain a flow of conversation throughout the day, even when one of you is on the move.
- Video call services such as Facetime and Skype provide a much more engaging experience than a phone call for the elderly, enabling communication between families and friends no matter the distance. They are often free so you can chat for hours and across continents.
- Social media can be a source of contact and communication for young people and the elderly. On social media sites people can view photos of family members, keep up with family news and activities, or join groups of people who share their hobbies and interests.
- Technology can also help people re-connect with friends they’ve lost touch with over the years. Whatever happened to that old school friend? Where is a former work colleague working now? What became of Cousin Jean who moved to Canada? Use social media to get back in touch and stay in touch.
- It may be unhealthy to turn to the internet as a substitute for actual encounters, but if websites are used to organise a football game, a community meet-up, a night out or a conversation, they can be a healthy way to maintain and build social ties.
- Virtual Reality (VR) headsets can re-create scenes from the past, holiday locations and experiences such as walking on the moon. The technology is a great way to help people connect and share their experiences with their friends and families.
- With a tablet, people can use a variety of different apps to stay connected, whether it’s playing Candy Crush with a grandchild or challenging a friend to a game of Scrabble. Apps such as Crosswords or Sudoku can keep the mind active and many of these games enable people to compete online with family and friends.
- Smart controls already have many uses in homes for the elderly and can improve safety, security and comfort. However, they can also be used to minimise loneliness and social isolation. If there haven’t been any visitors for the whole day, a text message can be sent to a relative or carer, suggesting that they give the elderly person a call, or pop in for a chat.
- Visiting a library or community centre to take part in a digital class or drop-in session is another way to connect with people. Everyone there faces the same challenges in getting online and it’s a great way to meet people and try out new technologies together.
- Technology can also provide a route to becoming less lonely by enabling someone to become a digital volunteer. Instead of using technology alone and becoming increasingly isolated, why not volunteer to help other people get online. You’ll not only be sharing your skills, but also meet more people face-to-face.
Digital Communities Wales has helped organisations implement all these ideas, so they can reduce loneliness and isolation amongst their clients, tenants and beneficiaries. Get in touch to find out how we can help your organisation.