Benefits of Social Engagement using Video Technology for Economically Disadvantaged Older Adults

Raksha A. Mudar, Speech and Hearing Science, UIUC
Wendy A. Rogers, Kinesiology and Community Health, UIUC

Industry Partners: Potluck LLC

Community Partners: CJE Senior Life 

This project supports the development of an interdisciplinary university-community-industry partnership to examine social engagement opportunities through technology for economically disadvantaged older adults. Social engagement, or lack thereof, has well-established effects on health and quality of life outcomes, including mortality and the development and onset of dementia. Older adults, especially those who are economically disadvantaged, are at higher risk of social isolation, and therefore, negative health outcomes. Internet-based social engagement through video technologies offers a novel opportunity to socially connect and engage older adults as technology becomes cheaper and more accessible. However, the unique socialization needs, interests, capabilities, and limitations of economically disadvantaged older adults for successful adoption of such technology-based social engagement opportunities are unknown apart from the affordability barrier.

In this pilot project, in association with our community partner CJE Senior Life and industry partner Potluck LLC, we will identify facilitators and barriers to the adoption of our internet-based social engagement tool,, developed by Potluck LLC, when free access to technology is provided. We will conduct an experiential field trial by adapting the social engagement intervention to suit the needs, interests, preferences, and capabilities of these older adults to obtain feasibility data on benefits of such opportunities. The learnings from this proposal will allow us to conduct larger field trials and identify mechanisms for the accelerated transition of our results through community and industry partnerships for a greater public health impact.