An example of social isolation prevention
The issue of social isolation among elderly people is a great worry and needs to be addressed. Statistics show that a quarter of 70 to 85 year-olds stay at home all day throughout the whole week except for short outings to the shop or for a walk. The corresponding figure in the younger group of 55 to 69 year-olds, is fourteen percent. The high degree of social isolation is often due to their own and their friends’ reduced mobility. Internet has become a natural way of staying in touch with old friends and connecting with new ones for most younger people but the uptake of interactive web offers among elderly is very small. This is largely due to the fact that most of what is offered is designed for experienced web users and pay little attention to the needs of the elderly who therefore feel confused and unable to cope.
One of the European Community’s great initiatives is the project Silvergame – a multimedia platform stimulating elderly to play and interact with each other and get in contact both virtually and in reality. The project is under development and technological advances in ICT are utilised to create an interactive platform. It is developed during a 26 months period in close collaboration with end users, psychologists and sociologists to enable the creation of a platform that takes into consideration the learning process and needs of older users. The project will be designed in a way that allows people that share the same hobbies and passions; such as singing, driving or dancing to connect with each other. Some examples of different applications on the platform are “The multimedia driving simulator for cognitive training”, ” a virtual silver song club”, “dance and fitness training”. Additionally, there are information services and contacts, such as travelling or dating services integrated on the platform. There are also offerings of real events such as concerts, song clubs or dance groups in a near location. All interaction includes videoconferencing and the thought is that friends and family shall exchange their experience before and after gaming.
By bringing web-based information services to the elderly people’s homes, social isolation is prevented and an active and social daily life is fostered.
B. Seewald, M. John, J. Senger, A. N. Belbachir: Silvergame – A project aimed at social integration and multimedia interaction for the elderly