206274 “Getting turned on”: How technology training can promote the social connectedness and engagement in life of older adults

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paula J. Gardner, PhD , Division of Health Policy, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Rationale: Preserving and improving the health and well-being of older people is a significant public health issue of the 21st century. “Engagement in life” has been identified as a key predictor of healthy aging, and health promoters, programmers, policy makers and community groups are seeking ways to enhance engagement in life for the older adults they serve. Lack of technological literacy among older adults has been identified as a potential barrier to engagement in life – i.e., that without the skills and knowledge to effectively use computers and access the internet, it is becoming impossible to negotiate the myriad of resources and information required (and available) to be fully engaged members of society. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess how participation in a senior's technology training program impacts the health (engagement in life) of older New Yorkers. Methods: The study employed a mixed-method design. Quantitative data were collected using telephone surveys (pre and post training) and analyzed using SPSS software. Qualitative data (observations and narratives) were collected using a case study approach and analyzed using NVivo software and principles of grounded theory. Engagement in life was measured by assessing changes in a) social support networks and b) social participation (eg., did participants report the technology training supported them to find and/or participate in new social events and activities). Results: Findings demonstrate technology training programs can promote engagement in life for community-dwelling older adults by increasing social connectedness and improving opportunities for social and civic engagement.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the relationship between technological literacy and health for older adults 2. Identify 3 ways in which participation in a technology training program can affect engagement in life for older adults. 3. Discuss why technology training programs are an effective health promotion strategy for community organizations, policy-makers and program planners seeking to enhance the health and well-being of older people.

Keywords: Technology, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a PhD in Public Health and I am the primary investigator on this project
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Technology and Aging
See more of: Gerontological Health