The Digital Seniors – Interactive eHealth Service Development with Old Citizens

Isabella Scandurra* Marie Sjölinder*
Isabella Scandurra*, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Marie Sjölinder*, Swedish ICT - SICS, Stockholm, Sweden

Track: Practice
Presentation Topic: Building virtual communities and social networking applications for patients and consumers
Presentation Type: Rapid-Fire Presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: Mermaid
Room: Room 1 - Newgate
Date: 2013-09-23 11:45 AM – 01:00 PM
Last modified: 2013-09-25
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Background: There is an increasing social isolation among elderly today. This will be an even larger issue in the future with growing numbers of elderly and less resources. Loneliness and social isolation could be addressed in several ways using different interactive eHealth services.

Objective: This case study aimed to, together with old citizens, investigate novel e-health services for seniors using an interactive device designed for seniors. The work also placed a large focus on the context around the users.

Materials: This study used an innovative mobile communication device connected to the TV, which worked as an interactive large screen remotely controlled. Services as communication via messages (sms/MMS/email), games, photo albums were provided. Here the TV was used for the interaction, but other Android platforms could be used as well. Eight members of a senior centre volunteered to test the services. They were between 65 and 80 years of age and lived in their own homes.

Method: The seniors installed the device at home by themselves and started using it. Throughout the 1.5 year long project, 10 evaluation workshops were held with the seniors and the staff at the centre. The formative qualitative evaluations contained two topics: to evaluate existing services and to get user contributions for the design of new meaningful services. In each workshop the participants used questionnaires to describe daily usage of the provided services.

Results: Regarding daily usage, the seniors reported that they mainly used the service for receiving information from the senior centre and for communication with the study participants or with younger relatives. They also read information about events at the senior centre and played games such as Memory and Sudoku. Finally, the seniors liked to perform a weekly sent out gymnastic exercise, and to answer quizzes, services that were introduced and tested during the project.

The design of new future services resulted in improvements of three categories of services: cognitive, social and physical activities. The participants also invented a new category “Information and news”. A cognitive activity service found meaningful to develop was a game for practicing working memory. In the social activities category the seniors wanted different quizzes and multi-user games. For physical activities they desired more gymnastic exercises and suggestions for guided walking routes. The new category “information and news” was suggested since they lacked services like senior-customized global and local news, and municipality information about local events.

Conclusions: The work provided input to development of different social services and it
showed increased social contacts, especially with grandchildren. Besides input to designing new services, for example providing local information and support for physical activity, this work showed the importance of a social context around such study. The seniors were very engaged throughout the project. The amount of input from the seniors could be explained in terms of social inclusion; they belonged to a group and each member was considered important for the work. The friendly workshop atmosphere facilitated ideas and services to be redesigned by the old users themselves.

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