Technology helps the over 70s stay in touch with their relatives

Mary Walklate Mary Walklate

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
10:37 PM

A pilot scheme to bring social media to the technology-shy is putting elderly people in touch with their relatives.

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The scheme has been tested to improve the quality of life of older people with a test group of over 70s .

It is hoped the project can be used to help people stay in regular contact with their families, increase confidence and reduce feelings of loneliness – at a time when national surveys say the older generation are feeling more isolated than ever.

The Mindings App, created by entrepreneur Stuart Arnott, gives users a way to communicate with friends and relatives anywhere across the globe through a simplified Facebook-style approach.

Funded by NHS Midlands and East, it involved giving the app to 30 people over 70 years old and who are not confident with using IT.

Mr Arnott, creator of Mindings said: “In the UK there are 10 million people over the age of 65 and two million of those people have less than weekly contact with a friend or family member.

“Even worse, one million would describe themselves as chronically lonely’. One man who took part in the trial told me he had regular contact with his family. Regular turned out to be once every three weeks.

“Mindings was borne out of this problem. Grandchildren seeing their grandparents regularly is much less common nowadays, and although as a generation we’re all connected through social media, this often doesn’t stretch to our older family members who don’t always use digital technology.

“If the family member lives alone or is in poor health, then lack of regular family contact can make them feel lonely, vulnerable, or even ignored.”

Cecilia Tredget from the East of England Local Government Association added: “What is particularly interesting to us is that 81 per cent of participants reported a very positive reaction to having technology, such as an iPad, made available to them.

“There is evidence that participating in the trial has ‘demystified’ technology, by introducing it in a ‘gentle’ way.”

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