Utilizing Digital Technology to Address Loneliness and Isolation in Older Adults through a Community-Based Connection Model: Responding to a Pandemic
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
School of Nursing and Health Professions
Family Nurse Practitioner
Problem: Loneliness and social isolation, both of which can have serious detrimental effects on health and well-being, have become more prevalent during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the older adult population. During part of the past year, older adults were strongly encouraged to follow strict quarantine measures because of their vulnerability to the virus. This forced isolation exacerbated the already existing issue of loneliness and social isolation in this population.
Interventions: Older adults who are members of a local non-profit community organization, focused on increasing independence and social vitality, were invited to participate in a virtual, interactive social engagement program encompassing meaningful conversations and story-sharing with the aim to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation in older adult participants. The program was implemented over a 12-week period with a total of six, one-hour sessions every other week.
Measures: The evaluation included data from the Zoom poll results after each session, which incorporated the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Personal experience feedback from a final Survey Monkey poll distributed to participants following completion of the 12-week program was used to collect additional data.
Results: The Zoom polls demonstrated that the majority of participants felt less isolated and more connected with other people during the sessions and that the program was beneficial in building meaningful relationships and improving their overall health and well-being. The final survey results were less conclusive that the program adequately addressed loneliness and isolation in older adults outside of the community setting.
Conclusions: The individual sessions potentially reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation in the short term, but the intergenerational program overall did not adequately address loneliness and isolation in the older adult participants longer term. Recommendations for future intergenerational programs include longer, in-person or hybrid sessions, consistency and commitment from volunteers, and smaller breakout groups for more intimate conversations.
Nagel, Melissa A., "Utilizing Digital Technology to Address Loneliness and Isolation in Older Adults through a Community-Based Connection Model: Responding to a Pandemic" (2021). Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Projects. 264.