“Facebook Light” For Elderly, Dementia Patients

"Facebook Light" for Dementia Patients

Astrid Næsgård is 79 years and is familiar with the Internet as a communication channel. To the left SINTEF researcher Kristine Holbø. (Photo: Thor Nielsen). From: http://www.forskning.no/artikler/2011/september/297432

Quoted from: “Facebook Light” For Elderly, Dementia Patients in Works (emaxhealth.com)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg probably never had this in mind when he came up with the phenomenally popular social network, but researchers are developing a type of “Facebook Light” for the elderly and people who have dementia. This approach will provide these individuals with a new way to maintain social contact and a better quality of life.

Social contact is critical for mental well-being

“For many people, staying in touch with friends, colleagues, and relatives via cell phone, email, and Facebook along with other social media is a normal way of life. But for the elderly and individuals who have dementia—people for whom social contact and interaction is critical for mental and emotional well-being—these means of communication, particularly social media, can be too complicated to navigate.

“Tone Øderud, a research scientist at SINTEF (the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia), asked “Why should elderly people be excluded from the social media, which are the communication platform of the future?” and then set out to help change it. She and her research team are developing a web-based communications application that will be easy enough for the elderly and even people with dementia to use.

Communication for health

“The researchers believe social media like Facebook can be an effective tool to help improve the quality of life not only for the elderly and people with dementia, but for their caregivers as well. Right now, however, “the user interface is too advanced for many people,” noted Øderud.

“So far, Øderud and her group have conducted some practical testing, including “a ‘digital diary’ and a ‘scrapbook’ containing personal photos, newspaper cuttings and information found online,” Øderud explained. These experiments showed that constant, simple contact between relatives and community care services improved communication and everyone’s security, and also reduced the time caregivers needed to follow up with their relatives.

“For now, Facebook Light hasn’t hit cyberspace. Øderud and her team are currently testing a prototype in the city of Drammen in southern Norway. She noted that ‘the tests have shown us that there is great potential for all in the fields of care-giving and digital communication.’ (SOURCE: SINTEF)”

My interest in this matter arose since I am currently working with a group proposing a research project for the FP7 EU Research Framework. The project is entitled “Social Innovation & Active, Healthy Aging–Applying Technology and Social Media Wisely for Dignified Aging.”

Do you know of other novel and interesting uses of Social Media?

About Hellmuth Broda

Independent Information and Communications Technology Strategist with an interest in the construction sites between business, society and technology. http://www.hellmuthbroda.com
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