This summer Dr. Coppola and I are working with the Carter Burden Network (CBN) to study the impact of technology on the quality of life among older adults (individuals above sixty-years-old). In doing so, we will help CBN create a structured technology program that will give older adults the ability to learn more about specific areas of technology. This will include everything from basic computer literacy, to mobile banking and tele-health services. The purpose of this research is to identify the most efficient ways in which older adults can learn and retain information about technology, while also better understanding how these findings can improve and individual’s overall quality of life. Once we have identified the most practical and effective ways teach older adults, we will utilize this information and implement it into the foundation of our technology program.
Through this project we expect to achieve a better understanding of the best practices and procedures for interacting with older adults and technology. We also hope to better understand the technical skills that are most important to older adults. Is it basic computer skills? The ability to fully interact with an online registration portal? Essentially, we want to identify which concepts are most important to teach older adults so that their quality of life is improved. We want to give them the skills and knowledge to be more independent and confident in a society that is heavily focused around technology. Once we have been able to identify these concepts, we will apply this information into the creation of a structured technology program that can be implemented at CDN and other senior living and recreational centers.
To answer our research questions, we will use a number of methods over the course of our project. First, we will research ways in which other senior centers are already teaching about technology. It is important to have an understanding of what others are already doing, and to use this information as a springboard for our research. Additionally, we will hold focus groups with the adults at CDN. These focus groups will provide us with baseline information in regards to the skills and knowledge that the adults already possess about technology. During these focus groups we will also survey the adult’s feelings on their quality of life and use this information to see if our program can help to increase their overall feelings of happiness. Another method that we will use is to test different teaching techniques. For example: do older adults learn best in groups or one-on-one? Is it best to have classes once or twice a week? Are paper instructions more effective than using an iPad? These are all questions that we hope to answer and that will give us the ability to create the best program that we can. We will test different teaching styles and practices to better understand which methods are most applicable to teaching older adults of varying ages, backgrounds, skill levels.
The potential significance of this research could serve as a tool to increase the quality of life for older adults. If we find that the program we will establish can lower an older adult’s feelings of social isolation, we can build upon our research and begin to implement these programs in a number of other senior centers. The long-term implementation could result in higher rates of happiness among future participants.