Week 3: Additional Research

Mar 20, 2019

This week was dedicated to learning all about how loneliness affects the elderly. This research is important because it will help me form questions for my interviews. I learned that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 million people age 65 or older are living alone. That is about 29% of the total population age 65 and older. That means that 11 million older Americans are at risk for suffering from loneliness and social isolation. When 29% of a group is impacted that is no longer a problem but an epidemic. My research shows that human connection is essential for our emotional well-being. We are social by nature and we thrive in collaborative systems in our work and family life.  As people age, our networks begin to dwindle and the loss of human connection can have negative consequences. Some studies show that loneliness and social isolation have similar mortality rates as high blood pressure obesity or smoking. This just highlights the severity of this problem. Why is loneliness and isolation more common in the over 65 population?

One common factor that keeps coming up in my research is the impact of technology. The elderly are generally not comfortable with technology and this is a barrier to being able to connect.  Young people use technology as a primary way of connecting, through social media, texting, or email. If the over 65 population doesn’t know how to use technology or their use if limited, then there is a lost opportunity for connection. This is may be a factor in creating intergenerational connections.

When I have interviewed roommate pairs, I always ask how they got connected. So far, there have been no connections made through technology.  Connections are made through personal reference, a neighbor, or a friend asking for a friend. One met through her job. Another met through her church. If one generation doesn’t use technology and the other almost exclusively uses technology to connect, how do we bridge the gap? The internet has amazing untapped potential to connect elderly to young people in the same way dating, job hunting, real estate, or even ordering dinner has become more accessible.  But because technology is a barrier for the elderly, the mode of connection must be carefully considered. A website creating a meeting place to create intergenerational connections probably won’t be as effective as person to person promotion.

2 Replies to “Week 3: Additional Research”

  1. Shikha H. says:

    Hey Cole!

    I love your project idea! It’s great that your research this week was centered around loneliness affects the elderly. It’s also great that you found common factors leading to loneliness in the elderly. Good luck with the rest of your interviews!

  2. Timothy C. says:

    I think this project is heading in the right direction, as it describes a social issue that I think is worth studying. I hope you get meaningful results in your interviews.

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