Communication Technology – Minimizing Isolation for the Mobility Challenged

Mobility losses are life changing. A loss in mobility often makes it difficult to live life as normal, potentially making it painful or stressful to leave one’s home. The inability to move freely can unfortunately lead to social isolation and loneliness, which can have notable negative health effects. Chronic loneliness is quoted as having the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity. 

However, tech developers striving to change that, starting with the elderly. The elderly are one of the largest groups susceptible to these effects because, according to AARP Foundation’s website Connect2Affect

  • 51% of people 75 and older live alone
  • 6 million adults 65 and older have a disability that prevents them from leaving their homes without help
  • Research from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 43% of older adults report feelings of loneliness.

Technology has the power to connect us. Whether it’s through video calls such as Facetime and Skype, sharing pictures and videos, or even a simple text message or email, helping seniors learn to use technology with confidence can start to counteract some of these effects. 

Many nonprofits and eldery-oriented service organizations such as AARP have begun to organize technology training programs designed to help seniors overcome their fears of technology, and discover ways to reduce their feelings of isolation via digital communication. 

These classes have been met with success, allowing seniors to connect with their loved ones, peers, and the world from the comfort of their own homes. Hopefully, we can begin to fight loneliness through digital connection not only for seniors, but for all who face any form of social isolation or mobility difficulties.

Author: Michele Currenti

Michele is a creative content intern in Educational Activities at IEEE. She is currently pursing her masters in Voice & Opera at the University of Maryland, College Park. She also completed a Bachelor of Science in Brain & Cognitive Science at the University of Rochester and a Bachelor of Music at the Eastman School of Music. She is interested in finding the various intersections of science and the arts to better humanity.